What can we learn from election-day art?

November 8, 2016

Interesting contrasts, at least.

I love the “County Election” painting of George Caleb Bingham, showing an election in 1852, the year incumbent President Millard Fillmore could not get even the nomination of his party. I love the tension of Norman Rockwell’s painting of the 1944 election in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with tensions we see only in retrospect. (That post also shows real tensions in a family, in the election of 1948, in another Rockwell painting).

What else does the world of art show about elections in America? What do you think?

Illustration from Harper's Weekly, showing election persuasion at the polls. Library of Congress collection

Illustration from Harper’s Weekly, November 7, 1857, showing election persuasion at the polls – politicians trying to buy votes. Library of Congress collection

If bribery didn’t work, there was always plain old fisticuffs.

Fighting at the polls. Illustration from Harper's Weekly, November 7, 1857. Library of Congress collections

Fighting at the polls. Illustration from Harper’s Weekly, November 7, 1857. Library of Congress collections

Here’s an unusual ritual, portrayed about the 1892 contest between William Henry Harrison and Grover Cleveland. Did this really happen? Did the loser pull the winner on a cart through the city?

 

“Lost Bet,” by John Klir, Library of Congress. Pearson’s education materials say this was common in the 19th century.

Louis Dalrymple noted a twist on the tradition four years later.

Puck Magazine, November 11, 1896.

Puck Magazine, November 11, 1896. “Print shows a bloated businessman holding an American flag labeled ‘Victory,’ riding in a wheelbarrow being pushed by another man; in the background, a young boy is telling a stranger that his Dad had a bet with the other man regarding the outcome of the presidential election. The stranger is uncertain who lost the bet.” Drawing by Louis Dalrymple for Puck. Library of Congress collections

Not sure how long that tradition of the loser pushing or pulling the winner hung on, but by 1904 election night was an occasion to walk about, socialize, and watch fireworks, if this print from the William Randolph Hearst organization is accurate. Teddy Roosevelt won the presidency on his own that year.

“Election night illumination at the Flatiron Building [New York City].” New York Sunday American & Journal, a Hearst newspaper. Library of Congress collections

“Politics in the Oyster House,” 1848 by Richard Caton Woodville. Image found at Wikiwand

George Caleb Bingham's

George Caleb Bingham’s “Stump Speaking,” 1853-54. Image from Wikiwand

Not all election work involves a crowd.

George Caleb Bingham,

George Caleb Bingham, “Canvassing the Vote”

George Caleb Bingham,

George Caleb Bingham, “The Verdict of the People,” 1854-55. Wikiwand image

This looks more like the campaign party of a victorious candidate in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, though I’m not really sure this tradition survived much past the 2000 election.

John Sloan,

John Sloan, “Election Night,” 1907, an image from a New York drinking establishment. Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

Janie Price’s Evolution of American Painting said:

Here is the scene of Election Night written in Sloan’s Journal:

“Took a walk in the afternoon and saw boys in droves, foraging for fuel for their election fires this evening. . . . after dinner . . . out again and saw the noisy trumpet blowers, confetti throwers and the “ticklers” in use—a small feather duster on a stick which is pushed in the face of each girl by the men, and in the face of men by the girls. A good humorous crowd, so dense in places that it is impossible to control one’s movement.” (John French Sloan)

Women voted for the first time nationwide in 1920, after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. J. F. Kernan’s painting for The Country Gentleman magazine in 1922 shows some of the tensions that remained after the national amendment.

J. F. Kernan in Country Gentleman magazine, November 4, 1922

J. F. Kernan in Country Gentleman magazine, November 4, 1922. Wikimedia image

Rockwall made great use of his time and photographs in Cedar Rapids. In addition to the painting there, he used the setting for his famous “Undecided,” which became the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. 1944 was the last time prior to 2016 that both major candidates came from New York.

“Undecided,” Norman Rockwell, 1944. Copyright Curtis Publications

 

One might wonder if Rockwell considered himself undecided, when one sees this “son” of the painting, from 1960, featuring Rockwell in the same voting booth.

“Norman Rockwell at the Voting Booth” painted in 1960, based on his 1944 studies in Cedar Rapids, it seems to me. Image from The Easel

“Norman Rockwell at the Voting Booth” painted in 1960, based on his 1944 studies in Cedar Rapids, it seems to me. Image from The Easel

One last Rockwell to close out, one of my favorites, showing the happy candidate Casey, after having gotten the news that the voters were not so happy with him.

Norman Rockwall,

Norman Rockwall, “Elect Casey,” or “Before and After,” November 1958 for the Saturday Evening Post.

Legendary election jokester Dick Tuck once ran for the state legislature in California, on the slogan, “The job needs Tuck, and Tuck needs the job.” He lost, and he said what I can imagine the fictional Casey saying, “The people have spoken. The bastards!”

What are your favorite election day images? What are your memories of elections past?


Issues you haven’t heard discussed in the campaign, 3: Clinton on national service

November 5, 2016

Part 3 of a series, listing policy issues we’ve heard too little about during this presidential campaign.

This is borrowed wholesale from the campaign website for Hillary Clinton (unless otherwise noted), just to try to get a little discussion going on the real issues of the campaign.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is working on a series of issues not yet discussed, less than a week before the vote. Consider it public service, in the spirit of Fillmore, who remained ever conversant in public affairs and anxious to take a role to push for policies to improve America, as he saw it — and who, supported by his wives, founded the White House Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and the University of Buffalo (now SUNY-Buffalo) to further knowledge.

Beyond a military draft, which few people want in an era of a very successful all-volunteer military, should we ask more of our young people, ask them to serve the nation? How would such a scheme work?

Clinton’s policy paper introduction on national service:

There aren’t many places where people of all ages, all races, all backgrounds, all beliefs come together in common cause. But service is one of them, and that’s one of the reasons I think it’s so valuable, because in addition to the good work it does, it helps us reconnect with each other to feel more a part of our shared American life. I believe that one of the jobs of president is to encourage more service … .

Hillary, September 30, 2016

The generation of Americans coming of age today has changed our politics and our country. From racial justice and marriage equality to economic opportunity and climate change, they have put key issues at the top of the national agenda. Hillary Clinton believes we must do more to support activism and create pathways for Americans to serve and to lead.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Expand national service. Hillary will create more opportunities for Americans to participate in national service, creating economic and educational opportunities while improving communities. She will significantly expand AmeriCorps to allow hundreds of thousands of more Americans to serve their communities through organizations such as City Year, YouthBuild, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and other community organizations. To achieve this, Hillary will grow AmeriCorps to 250,000 members annually, fulfilling the goals of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. And she will create a National Service Reserve to enable millions of Americans across the country to engage in part-time volunteer service to their communities, taking on the most pressing challenges identified by state and local leaders and earning recognition for their contributions. Read more here.
  • Increase access to higher education. Hillary believes that if you serve your country through national and community service, you should be able to earn meaningful educational benefits. Her New College Compact will build on the current AmeriCorps Segal Education Award, on top of her plans to make debt-free college available to all by doubling the Segal Award and making it tax-free so that AmeriCorps members can earn more than $10,000 for college for every year of full-time service.
  • Strengthen international service. As secretary of state, Hillary saw firsthand the impact that Peace Corps Volunteers have around the world. That’s why, as president, she will continue to be a strong advocate for the Peace Corps. She will strengthen the program to provide more opportunities to send Americans abroad to work side by side with local leaders and address our most pressing global challenges.
  • Bring Americans together. Hillary strongly believes in the power of service to break down barriers by bringing together Americans from all backgrounds and uniting them in common purpose. She will ensure that national service remains at the top of her agenda as a broad-based solution to expand opportunity for people across America and strengthen our communities and our country.

Hillary has a strong record of supporting national service:

  • As first lady, Hillary advocated for Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps so that tens of thousands more Americans would have opportunities to learn “how much more we get when we give.”
  • As senator, Hillary fought to protect AmeriCorps from budget cuts, and in 2003 stood alongside 150 mayors and governors in requesting funding to secure and grow the program. She also co-sponsored a bill to base AmeriCorps Education Award on the average public college tuition as a way to reduce student debt and allow more Americans to attend college in a time of rising costs.
  • As secretary of state, Hillary re-established the Peace Corps’s relationship with Indonesia after a 45-year hiatus. The first program in 2010 sent 19 volunteers, and now that number has grown to more than 100. Also under her leadership, the State Department provided $1 million to the Peace Corps to advance renewable energy efforts.

Read the fact sheet

Related:

I must confess a bias. In my time in Washington I met many former Peace Corps volunteers, and others who volunteered for VISTA and other programs. I found them without exception to be great leaders of people, and committed workers (in and out of government) who put service to the nation before their own welfare, often — and almost always to the great benefit of American people.

I liked them. Service to America had made them better people, and easier to befriend and respect.

Programs that train such leaders are priceless, in my estimation.

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Issues you haven’t heard discussed in the campaign, 2: Clinton, on gun violence, with mothers of gun violence victims

November 4, 2016

Part 2 of a series, listing policy issues we’ve heard little about during this presidential campaign.

This is borrowed wholesale from the campaign website for Hillary Clinton (unless otherwise noted), just to try to get a little discussion going on the real issues of the campaign.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub may do an entire series on issues not yet discussed, less than a week before the vote. Consider it public service, in the spirit of Fillmore, who remained ever conversant in public affairs and anxious to take a role to push for policies to improve America, as he saw it — and who, supported by his wives, founded the White House Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and the University of Buffalo (now SUNY-Buffalo) to further knowledge.

What about gun violence?

Gun violence prevention

From the right: Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, Sec. Hillary Clinton, Sybrina Fulton (mother of Trayvon Martin),

I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets. We may have our disagreements on gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few things. If the FBI is watching you for suspected terrorist links, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked. You shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show. And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.

Hillary, June 13, 2016

Too many families in America have suffered—and continue to suffer—from gun violence. It’s the leading cause of death among young African American men—more than the following nine causes combined. America cannot go on like this.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Expand background checks to more gun sales—including by closing the gun show and internet sales loopholes—and strengthen the background check system by getting rid of the so-called “Charleston Loophole.”
  • Take on the gun lobby by removing the industry’s sweeping legal protection for illegal and irresponsible actions (which makes it almost impossible for people to hold them accountable), and revoking licenses from dealers who break the law.
  • Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill by supporting laws that stop domestic abusers from buying and owning guns, making it a federal crime for someone to intentionally buy a gun for a person prohibited from owning one, and closing the loopholes that allow people suffering from severe mental illness to purchase and own guns. She will also support work to keep military-style weapons off our streets.

Hillary has a record of advocating for commonsense approaches to reduce gun violence:

  • As first lady, she co-convened a White House Summit on School Violence after the Columbine tragedy, and strongly defended the Brady Bill, which instituted federal background checks on some gun sales.
  • As senator, she co-sponsored and voted for legislation that would close the gun show loophole, voted against the dangerous immunity protections for gun dealers and manufacturers, and co-sponsored legislation to extend and reinstate the assault weapons ban.
  • As a candidate, she is honored to have the endorsement of many groups working to take on the epidemic of violence, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its Million Mom March chapters, the Newtown Action Alliance, and Everytown for Gun Safety—including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Read the fact sheet

Related:

What do you think? Why didn’t we hear more about this in debates, and in news coverage of the campaign?


Issues you haven’t heard discussed in the campaign, 1: Clinton, on fair taxes

November 3, 2016

presidential-taxes-13-638

Slide from the Motley Fool on Clinton’s tax plan; slide is from 2015, Clinton’s position isn’t changed much. She knows what needs to be done.

With an assist from Warren Buffet.

This is wholly purloined from the campaign website for Hillary Clinton (unless otherwise noted), just to try to get a little discussion going on the real issues of the campaign.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub may do an entire series on issues not yet discussed, less than a week before the vote. Consider it public service, in the spirit of Fillmore, who remained ever conversant in public affairs and anxious to take a role to push for policies to improve America, as he saw it — and who, supported by his wives, founded the White House Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and the University of Buffalo (now SUNY-Buffalo) to further knowledge.

It’s outrageous that multi-millionaires and billionaires are allowed to play by a different set of rules than hardworking families, especially when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes.

Hillary, January 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton believes that we need an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. But when it comes to taxes, too often the wealthiest and the largest corporations are playing by a different set of rules than hardworking families.

Hillary is committed to restoring basic fairness in our tax code and ensuring that the wealthiest Americans and large corporations pay their fair share, while providing tax relief to working families. That’s not only fair, it’s good for economic growth, because she will use the proceeds to create good-paying jobs here in America—and make bold investments that leave our economy more competitive over the long run.

As president, Hillary will:

  • Restore basic fairness to our tax code. Hillary will implement a “fair share surcharge” on multi-millionaires and billionaires and fight for measures like the Buffett Rule to ensure the wealthiest Americans do not pay a lower tax rate than hardworking middle-class families. She’ll close loopholes that create a private tax system for the most fortunate, and she’ll ensure multi-million-dollar estates are paying their fair share of taxes. Read the fact sheet
  • Close corporate and Wall Street tax loopholes and invest in America. Hillary will close tax loopholes like inversions that reward companies for shifting profits and jobs overseas. She will charge an “exit tax” for companies leaving the U.S. to settle up on their untaxed foreign earnings. She will close tax loopholes that let Wall Street money managers pay lower rates than some middle-class families. And she’ll reward businesses that invest in good-paying jobs here in the United States. Read the fact sheet
  • Simplify and cut taxes for small businesses so they can hire and grow. The smallest businesses, with one to five employees, spend 150 hours and $1,100 per employee on federal tax compliance. That’s more than 20 times higher than the average for far larger firms. We’ve got to fix that.
  • Provide tax relief to working families from the rising costs they face. For too many years, middle-class families have been squeezed by rising costs for everything from child care to health care to affording college. Hillary will offer relief from these rising costs, including tax relief for Americans facing excessive out-of-pocket health care costs and for those caring for an ill or elderly family member.
  • Pay for ambitious investments in a fiscally responsible way. Hillary believes that we can afford to pay for ambitious, progressive investments in good-paying jobs, debt-free college, and other measures to strengthen growth, broaden opportunity, and reduce inequality. Hillary will use the proceeds from ensuring the wealthiest and the largest corporations pay their fair share to pay for these investments without adding to the debt.

Read the fact sheet

Related:

What do you think? What do your numbers show?

More, not from Clinton’s campaign:


Barack Obama: “Every vote matters.” Especially yours

October 21, 2016

You may have seen this one before. It probably came with a note you may want to have tissues handy. Good advice.

Better advice: Vote!

At I Agree to See, Andrew Cullen wrote:

The ad, “Progress is on the Ballot” is a two-minute mini-documentary of the Obama years. We hear the president sum up his administration nicely: “We know the progress we’ve made despite the forces of opposition,” he says in the ad – a not-so subtle dig to Republicans in Congress. “Despite the forces of discrimination, despite the politics of backlash. That doesn’t stop with my presidency. We’re just getting started.”

The ad ends with a shot of Clinton and Obama walking on stage together.
At the last White House Correspondents dinner, President Obama was introduced to Anna Kendrick’s song “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone.”

That seems about right.

president barack obama hillary clinton we miss obama progress is on the ballot barack obama

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House.


Michelle Obama lays it on the line in New Hampshire – listen

October 13, 2016

First Lady Michelle Obama. DCCC image

First Lady Michelle Obama. DCCC image

President Barack Obama maybe told us. We need to listen to first Lady Michelle Obama.

Some wag said back at the convention, think about it this way: How would you like to be Barack Obama, and realize you’re not even the best orator in your own home?

Listen to what Michelle Obama said about the election, today, October 13, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here I start just over five minutes in, at the serious stuff that goes for about 9:30 minutes:

Mrs. Obama had some good things to say about the future for girls, and women, in the first five minutes, too, you may want to see. Full 24-minute speech here:

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Word of the 2016 elections: Mumpsimus

September 30, 2016

Wikipedia said: The humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam may have coined the word. Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543, Wikipedia Image

Wikipedia said: The humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam may have coined the word. Painting by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543, Wikipedia Image

Mumpsimus. A description of the malady that plagues U.S. politics in 2016.

Odd word, but even Wikipedia has very descriptive entry.

A mumpsimus is an action by a person who adheres to a routine, idea, custom, set of beliefs, or a certain use of language that has been shown to be unreasonable or incorrect. For example, a person may continue to say all intents and purposes as all intensive purposes,[1] even after being corrected. The term mumpsimus may also refer to the person who performs the action.

Definition

Mumpsimus has been defined as a “traditional custom obstinately adhered to however unreasonable it may be”,[2] as well as “someone who obstinately clings to an error, bad habit or prejudice, even after the foible has been exposed and the person humiliated; also, any error, bad habit, or prejudice clung to in this fashion”.[3] In other words, mumpsimus can describe the behavior, as well as the person doing it. Garner’s Modern American Usage says the word could describe George W. Bush because of his persistent habit of pronouncing “nuclear” as /noo-kyə-lər/ (“nucular”) instead of the standard /noo-klee-ər/, despite the error being widely reported.[4]

Mumpsimus became a hashtag on Twitter earlier this year, and you can see why.

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