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“Maps are a powerful, expressive, and widely recognized form of graphic metaphor, and the contrasting use of maps in recent American political discourse and rhetoric is emblematic of the divergence of priorities among political groups in American society.”
Robert Edsall, “Iconic Maps in American Political Discourse,” Cartographica 42.4 (2007): 345.
The map motif has been popular in political culture since at least the 1920s, represented here with a Coolidge/Dawes campaign button. Otherwise, this display focuses on fifteen presidential campaigns over a sixty-year period beginning with an “Ike” button from the 1952 Eisenhower/Stevenson campaign and ending with the 2008 McCain/Obama campaign.
While the United States map motif appears more often in conservative republican paraphernalia, with liberal democrats also favoring global imagery, this display presents an equal number of buttons from candidates of both major political parties as well as from a few independent candidates:
Reagan Country (ca. 1980). Poster. 57 x 72 cm.
Richard Nixon. Autographed photograph (November, 1972). 29 x 36 cm.
America Needs McGovern: He can put it together (ca. 1972). Collage, 75 x 58 cm.
The Art Press, Inc. LBJ for the USA (Chicago: 1964). Poster, 52 x 33 cm.
Convention Time U.S.A.: Crossroads at the Stockyards. Cover of Time 60, no. 32 (14 July 1952). 34 x 26 cm.
Wear A Button: Help Keep U.S. out of War, Stay Neutral (1939). 28 x 22 cm.
These buttons promoting the isolationist cause — shown here on the original display plaque — were withdrawn from distribution shortly after December 7, 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbor forced the U.S.A. to enter World War II. The buttons reappeared on the market, although now as “collectibles,” when a cache was discovered in 1975.