Back in the day, campaign posters were one of the few ways candidates could make their platform known. Without televisions and radios, these posters became an essential part of getting their names out there to advertise their campaign. As you can imagine, many of these vintage political campaign posters would never fly today. Disturbing, racist, and all kinds of shocking, you just have to check them out.
The Two Platforms
During an 1866 race for governor in Pennsylvania, this lovely work of art was posted up around town. It was created during a time when Republicans were fighting for black rights, which made them “radical” apparently. The poster was in support of Democratic candidate Hiester Clymer’s “platform for the White Man” aka the white supremacy platform. Clymer’s photo is of a clean-cut, young white professional, while his opponent, James White Geary, is shown as an extremely distorted black person. Geary was a white man, but in order to visually demonstrate his platform, they drew a black man with an oversized head, distorted features, and lips that put Jay-Z to shame. This blatant racism is nothing compared to the next political campaign poster though.
For The White Man
The same year, in 1866, this poster was used as well to further promote the Democratic party. This time, the image intended to be a black man is even more offensive, if possible. The eyes are drooping down his face, his lips come out further than his nose, a nose that no one could ever possibly breathe out of. All just a bunch of propaganda to prevent black men from voting.
Not all vintage political campaign posters were racists. This one, for example, used an anti-racist stance against the Ku-Klux-Klan to gain support. Thomas E. Dewey ran for president in the ’40s against Harry S. Truman, using Truman’s links to the KKK as a platform for his political campaign. While a slogan of “Kill The Klan” certainly would never fly today, the concept of making it illegal is probably something we should consider. Anyway, Dewey didn’t win and as we all know, the KKK somehow still exists to this day.
Opposing Woman’s Suffrage
Not everyone was so enthusiastic of the idea that women wanted to place their votes. God forbid anyone with a vagina should be allowed to have an opinion that matters! This anti-suffrage poster claims the appeal of womanhood is not wanting to vote, as if any man would know what being a woman is about. And this just one of many anti-suffrage posters aimed at women that were around during the time. Many of these sexist ideas of what a woman should be like are still around today. Women might be allowed to vote, but they’re hardly represented in our country’s government.
The Women’s Anti Suffrage Association
The Women’s Anti Suffrage Association was apparently a real thing, and back in the day, this was one of their posters addressed to Mr. Voter. They’re asking that men vote against women’s right to voting because it would appear that the ballot would never offer women a right that they didn’t already have. “The Ballot will secure a Woman no Right that she Needs and does not Possess.” Notice how certain words are capitalized to draw attention and emphasize the words that will still capture a person’s attention with just a glance.
Home Loving Women
Another anti-suffrage women’s poster mentions that the “home loving women” don’t want to vote. This is, of course, because women belong at home doing housework and voting would be far too confused by politics to make an educated decision on who they vote for. Yet, they feel the need to explain to the men where exactly they can find Amendment 8 on the ballot, in the fourth place.
Men For Congress
What a shock, Bill Clinton’s campaign poster for his run for Congress is extremely sexist. The quote he chose to use for the election reads, “We must elect MEN to Congress who are not afraid to take responsibility for the future of our country.” Ummm, what about the women running for Congress Bill? I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising considering how his career ended up. Numerous affairs. Sexual assault and rape allegations. Doesn’t exactly depict the kind of guy who would ever take women into consideration.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
These days, being gay is hard but certainly not as hard as it was decades ago. While being in the closet wasn’t uncommon, the military had a don’t ask don’t tell policy that could lead to someone’s discharge if it wasn’t followed. Even today, most of those in the military choose to follow this policy, and Donald Trump recently passed a law that transgender men and women can not serve. It’s almost as if we came so far, but not far enough.
Using Racial Slurs
While Donald Trump might make some of us think being racist is okay, half of us (the smarter half) know better. Using this racial slur on a poster might have been okay decades ago, but it certainly wouldn’t fly today. Or so you would hope. Wartime or not, this poster is just all sorts of wrong.
These Kinds Of Posters Still Exist Today
Racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia. You name it, and it still exists today. Not only that, but politicians will often use the public’s prejudices to get more votes. Most recently it was Donald Trump who used the people’s fear of terrorists and hatred toward immigrants to win over his supporters, ultimately earning him the presidency. Likely he didn’t intend for all these white supremacists to come out of the woodworks, but that’s exactly what Trump encouraged with his campaign. These posters were both found on and near several college campuses in the United States just last year.
Turning In Illegal Immigrants
Both of these signs seem to have been created by a group who fears that white people are going instinct, but this one actually calls on white people to rat out immigrants. This isn’t Nazi Germany people! Or, is it?