To be taken seriously as a political candidate, there seems to be a pretty strict formula for the look of your campaign materials– equal parts red, white and blue and add a few stars in there for good measure. Looking through the Button Museum archives, though, we’ve got a nice little collection of political buttons that are a bit outside the box. Taking risks may not have always pay off in votes, but it sure makes for more interesting buttons.
We don’t have a lot of info on this button or why it features that crazy explosion, but the rim text says that it was for James C. Devitt from Greenfield Wisconsin who, according to the Wisconsin State Historical Society, was a state senator back in the 60s and 70s. Who knew that state polititians were thinking that creatively about their campaign materials? Not sure if the button is implying that he’s pro-nuclear or just the life of the party, but it certainly makes for a memorable design.
Though we can’t totally be sure, it’s a good bet that this button was for Senator Jacob Javits from New York who served from 1957-1981. The design seem pretty mid-century and it’s a nice change to see such bold colors on a campaign button. Interestingly, Javits’ name was floated as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney‘s father, Michigan governor George Romney, had Romney won the Republican nomination for president back in 1968.
George McGovern, who passed away last week, was a liberal president candidate that a lot of counter culture folks were hopeful would beat Nixon in the 1972 election. Even this friendly rainbow button couldn’t keep him from losing, though. When I was asking about this button, Christen (BB owner and button expert extraordinaire) told a story she’d heard about John Lennon being so upset about McGovern’s defeat on election night that he did some unfortunate acting out with a woman at a party and was launched into his infamous two-year Lost Weekend. Doh. Poor McGovern.
Though this Ted Kennedy 1980 presidential campaign button isn’t completely outside the box (he’s got the classic colors and stars), the pop of yellow gives it a slightly more interesting design than a normal ho-hum presidential picture button. Didn’t seem to work to get him elected, though, either… Maybe there’s a trend here?
This Jimmy Carter button from the 1976 campaign isn’t the most ambitious, but finally we’ve got an example from a guy who actually won the election. The rectangle shape is a bit unusual, and it’s got an overall 70s feel to it with the bright colors and very Bicentennial vibe. The banner is a nice touch, though. Why not the best, America?