I know I said that I wanted to avoid stickers making a political statement during this experiment, but I felt like this was too perfect of an end not to use. It seems like all we have talked about since Obama got re-elected back in 2012 has been this election. We didn't even get Obama sworn in for his second term when the 24 hour news networks started to speculate who would be the likely candidates. Then 2015 happened and potential candidates poured out of the woodwork; it seemed like everyone was dipping a toe, testing the political waters. As the primaries started, there were 17 Republican candidates and 6 Democratic ones. They slowly began to drop out like flies but the ones that stuck around just made the election louder and often more intolerable.
As the noise of election grew, people started to express their disdain for the whole thing. One of those expressions was this sticker. What started off as a personal meme on the creator's Facebook page, turned into a small business for a different man so he could have a bumper sticker of his own, and became a bit of a phenomenon. I'm not entirely sure who created the candidate page for this meme on Facebook back in May but it's managed to get over 5,000 likes. And while the election was definitely divisive on many levels, it's clear a lot of people could get behind this sticker and it's message. According to a Reuter's article in the beginning of October, roughly one in four of the young voters polled would rather see the world get destroyed by a meteor than vote for either presidential candidate.
I think it's always good to find a bit of humor to get yourself through things, even if it would be considered a tad dark by many. The meteor's page is an impressive collection of apocalyptic and political humor, I really enjoy the "live" election results for the meteor's win. What really gets me about this sticker is how even though the election is over it still hasn't ended, making the meteor's arrival still a valid solution. I know there aren't many in my age group who are thrilled with the current result, I definitely am not a fan of it, but the fact that it's still going on is bordering on ridiculous. I was tired of the election when I took this photo weeks ago and at this point I would totally back a giant meteor's run for president.
Going through my collection of photos a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I was a couple of stickers short of making the theme for the entire month. So I ended up doing a quick search during my lunch break to see what I could find. While I did find quite a few interesting ones, I didn't find many more political ones. Luckily I did manage to come across this one near Market Square. I have to admit that I wasn't terribly thrilled with the idea of having two Clinton stickers during this experiment but I was intrigued by the group that was supporting her.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is a state group that was created and run by a variety of local, state, and federal unions. They meet every two years, alternating between Philly and Pittsburgh, to work on the various goals and policies that the collective unions hope to pursue. Reading up on the group, I was particularly captured by one line in their description on the website: "We shall combat resolutely the forces which seek to undermine democratic institutions and to enslave the human soul." I understand a goal of a group of unions to be the prevention of lost policies in the government but the enslavement of the human soul seems like a odd thing to work against. I get that it's a metaphor for terrible working conditions and why unions were created in the first place, it's just quite the inflammatory statement.
I know that unions have typically supported Democratic candidates, so I decided to do a little research into why this is. While many other countries have political parties that were based around the union, the US parties were not. Looking at a short blurb on the Scholars Strategy Network, it seems like after the New Deal happened unions were now given a reason to throw their support behind the Democrats. It became a beneficial give and take between the two groups, the unions providing the votes and the party creating new policies to help the workers. Even though the unions have shrunk in enrollment over the years, their support is still a crucial part in the Democratic campaign game plan. There is a much larger story here, especially considering the switch in Democratic ideals and party members over the years, but I know that would be better for others.
This week's political sticker is for a candidate I'm sure many recall but who never managed to get the traction he really wanted. Another Pittsburgh native, Ron Paul actually served his time in the House of Representatives as a representative for Texas. He relocated to Texas after getting his medical degree and serving time in the armed services. What makes him an interesting character is that while he was clearly a Republican, he is very closely tied to the Libertarian causes and groups. Granted this is partly because he ran as the Libertarian candidate in the 1988 election but he also took his chances as one of the Republican nominees for president in 2008 and 2012. He had a fair amount of support behind him when he ran for the office of President, just never enough to really get his Libertarian ideals through.
Paul has always been a vocal conservative and a strong advocate for limiting governmental power. He supports adjusting our financial system, bringing troops back from all of the posts around the world, and wants the Constitution to be a driving force for laws rather than something politicians adjust to fit their needs. A big supporter of groups like Campaign for Liberty, he goes around speaking at college campuses promoting these Libertarian hopes now that he's retired from political office. I can't say I completely support these ideas but I do think that we need to expand our political parties and how the system works.
Sorry I know this isn't a particularly interesting post, I'm just a little bored with the political stickers. I think the theme is definitely an interesting one, you could probably make an entire blog using just these political stickers, but it's not my forte. Finding these old stickers is always fascinating and discovering the campaigns behind them is rather intriguing, I just have problems coming up with ways to relate them in interesting posts. I could technically call it quits on these stickers, it is my blog after all, but I'm a rather stubborn thing so I'm going to see it through to the end. All I ask is that you bear with me for two more posts and then I'll move onto other, hopefully more interesting, topics.
There are always images that end up becoming iconic and serve to define aspects of decades later on. Dorothea Lange's photo "Migrant Mother" defines a big element of the Great Depression for many. John Travolta in a white suit on the dance floor is what a good portion of the population picture at the mention of the 70s. Rosie the Riveter and a sailor kissing a nurse in Time's Square is the 40s when you want to boil it down. Each of these images only show a small part of what actually took place during these points in history but are now iconic symbols of the age. I have a feeling that today's sticker is probably going to be another.
While this isn't what is typically defined as a campaign sticker, I'm pretty sure more people remember this image than Obama's logo during his run in 2008. His campaign poster was one of the most prolific parts of that election, bringing the artist behind it to the public eye more than his graffiti had. Shepard Fairey gave many Millennials, who were voting in their first major election, a way to express their support and excitement. And of course being the age of social media, there were plenty of copycats and memes using this same style. It felt like you couldn't go a week on Facebook without something in shades of blue and red appearing on your feed.
The simple style of the image and its message of Hope is what makes it so effective though. It caught your attention and was far more captivating than any of the other candidates. It made you feel like you were a part of a social movement, being about as effective in collecting supporters over social media as Obama was. While the poster originally had Progress as it's tagline and Obama's slogan was Change, both were changed to Hope to reflect the general attitude of his supporters. They were pushing boundaries and excited at the chance to make history with Obama. People's opinions of Obama may have changed over the years, including Fairey's, but doesn't change the iconic nature of his campaign.
For the post today I could go into Clinton's presidency, taking a look at the scandals and policies that defined him as a president. However, history and political science has never been my strong suite and any attempt to boil 8 years down into a logical concise look at him would be a disservice to all involved. So instead I thought I would write about what I recall from the 96 election. Granted it's not much, I was in second grade when it happened, but I think what I remember is fairly telling. Well probably more telling about me than anything else, but I'm rolling with it.
I don't really recall my parents discussing the election, though that's not terribly surprising considering I was eight at the time. I feel like politics became more of a discussion around us when we got old enough to actually start forming opinions but never to the point where they were clearly trying to influence us. What I do remember from the 96 election was the fact that I had to go with my dad to his polling place that day. I'm pretty sure he ended up dragging me along before taking me to school and driving to work himself, but that is up for debate. I can't recall what exactly I did while he voted but I'm pretty sure I showed some sign of interest in what he was doing since I was given a sample ballot to take to school with me. On the way back to the car I asked my dad who he voted for and he wouldn't tell me because voting was a private matter. The rest is rather foggy, I took the ballot to school and I'm pretty certain that we did do a short discussion of the election and voting. And even though the two main candidates were Dole and Clinton, the name that stuck with me was Perot.
Like I said before politics has never been a big element to my life. I have plenty of friends who are far more informed about these things than I have ever been, who would give a far more enthralling post about this. But for me I think it shows the big elements that defined my thought processes on politics. That being interested in politics is a good thing, but it should never be a defining element to who you are. I know my parents care about politics but I also know that they have never let it be a characteristic that their children would use to describe them. That when it comes down to it, your political opinion is ultimately a private matter.
I love this project because it gives me a chance to not only explore the city of Pittsburgh but also to find interesting elements that many tend to overlook. What I love about doing this blog is finding the stories and possible meanings behind these stickers. When I take my photographs I generally have no clue what the sticker is about, it just happens to be in an interesting location or one that I really haven't seen before. It's not until I go to post them on here that I start to delve into the story behind the sticker. A large portion of this is so I can give credit where it's due, linking to the creator's site when I can, but it also gives me a chance to see a little behind the curtain.
Continuing with my political theme for the month I have this campaign bumper sticker for John Heinz. Now I'm not originally from the Pittsburgh area, growing up in a small town on the other side of the state, but I was a frequent visitor since my dad is from West Mifflin. So I really didn't make any connection with this name, I just liked the worn aspect of the sticker. But doing some research it looks like this sticker has been on this pole since either 1976, 1982, or 1988, the three years Heinz ran for election and re-election in the Senate.
Beyond the impressive age of the sticker, considering there's a very good chance that it's older than I am, I feel like it's quite the poignant find. John Heinz is actually H. John Heinz III from the Heinz family that started the infamous corporation here in Pittsburgh. After working in the financial arena for a few years and a short stint teaching, he went into politics in 1971 as a member of the House of Representatives. He devoted his attention to three specialties (the elderly, international commerce, and the environment) and was truly active in getting his state's opinion. He continued to be an important influence in politics when he moved over to the Senate. His time in office was unfortunately cut short when he died in a plane accident in 1991. I realize that this is a very brief synopsis of his career, but check out the links for a more in depth look at him.
I feel like this sticker's story was an impressive case of perfect timing. After a divisive election and a political atmosphere that most people are tired of, it's nice to be reminded that politics isn't always the monster it seems to be. Heinz was the heir to the family's fortunate but felt that his time was better spent in a political career helping others. As a moderate Republican he worked hard to protect the rights of the elderly, promote trade laws that would help the declining steel industry and played a big role in protecting the environment by serving on multiple boards and committees. He made sure that he knew what the residents of Pennsylvania wanted out of him and was so popular here in Pittsburgh that he carried every ward in the city for his first Senate run. For me he shows that politics doesn't have to be a stalemate between the two parties, that there is a middle ground that can be worked in. We just need to remember that things really aren't black and white, that it's shades of grey.
Since I started with a sticker from Trump on Thursday, it's only appropriate that I do a Clinton sticker before this election is decided tomorrow. While you don't have her name on it, you know just by one look who it's for. Granted it's the same H that you would see on the signs in yards which have her name on them, but it's an interesting way to show the difference in how the two candidates are appealing to supporters. The sticker from Thursday and his own official campaign logo were clearly ones designed to be more of the traditional campaign, looking to fit the expected standard. Obviously nothing wrong with going with tactics that have worked in the past, it shows that they have a pretty clear understanding of their audience. Clinton's sticker on the other hand is much more of an modern take on the idea of campaigning. Using just the first initial of her name and an arrow signifying an idea of moving forward, her campaign logo is more of a brand symbol than a political statement. A simplistic design along the idea of Facebook's or even Apple's logo, and can be seen in that same capacity on her website. Which seems to work for her with appealing to a younger demographic. Now that's not to say that both sides don't have large range of supporters, but it is clear that they are using two very different tactics to get their name out there.
I also find this sticker interesting just for the fact that it's not the typical bumper sticker I usually see. This clearly was one of those stickers that survey people hand out after accosting you on the street or ones you'd be given for standing at an event. Since her logo is again more of a brand than full out campaign logo, it's definitely easy to see people proudly sporting this on their chest while they were out and about. I can also see this being used to decorate computers or even bikes, giving people the ability to show their support without being too in your face about it. But since this sticker wasn't designed to withstand the elements, it's started to fall apart up there on the stop sign. So while I always find this a fun aspect of a sticker's life, it's not exactly the best way to keep the awareness up for a political campaign.
While I don't want to distract too much from the general theme of the month, I do find it worth noting the placement of these particular stickers. Since they were placed on a stop sign, there is that chance that the person who put them up there are looking to say that they want to stop her from being elected. Although I am slightly more inclined to think that this person was using the arrow in the H to point to the rebel inc sticker right in the middle. Especially since they turned the second one upside down so that the arrow would be facing to the left. The band rebel inc. is a borderline heavy metal group, I would say, from the Detroit, MI area originally and now located in the MD area. Although the bio does compare them more to Rage Against the Machine, which I can easily see with the song they had posted on their home page. Either way I would be interested in whether the person who place these stickers knew that they were a band and just wanted to accentuate the group or if they were saying that Hillary is part of a rebel group.
For this month I thought I would try something a little different and have the posts focus around a theme. I know it's terribly cliché but since it is November, with a major election next week, I figured I would focus on politics. Now before I start to delve into this experiment, here are my self-imposed stipulations. I am going to do my best to avoid stickers that are making a political statement, like my previous posts Tiny political statements and Those cycling environmentalists. It's not that I don't appreciate them, I just feel like there are too many directions these stickers can take and I would be doing them a disservice randomly grouping ones together. So I will be sticking with actual political campaign stickers that are out there on the streets. I will do my best to remain unbiased with these posts, especially since I've never been big on politics, but I am a fairly liberal Democrat so I'm sure things will leak through. With those ground rules in place, let's get on with the show.
Since it's all anyone can talk about in this final week of the 2016 election season, I thought it would be appropriate to start with one of the candidates. When I was searching the Southside for stickers, I felt there was no way I could pass on this Trump sticker. There isn't anything special about it's design or it's placement, although I was a little surprised it was still undamaged sitting on East Carson, but I do think it is great example of the traditional campaign sticker. You have the candidates' names, the year of the election, a clean design, and of course one of Trump's campaign slogans. One brief look and you know exactly who the person sporting this sticker is supporting. While not as simplistic as previous campaigns, containing just the candidates' names and year on their stickers, the added slogan gives it that extra punch. Granted I'm not particularly moved with this slogan of "Rebuild America," but nothing really ever reaches the level of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" in my book ;).
What I find really interesting about this sticker is that it isn't actually the real campaign logo for Trump. When you go to the website at the bottom on the sticker it directs you to an online store where you can buy Trump gear and is supported by the Spalding Group. The group does say that they have been big supporters and official suppliers for the last 8 Republican Presidential candidates, but it isn't actually immediately tied to the campaign. They do give you a tab for the latest Trump news but that hasn't been updated since September. The site really is just to grab some Trump swag to show your support. The actual logo from his campaign site is definitely a tad more straight forward, although it does sport the slightly more inspirational "Make America Great Again!" slogan. I think that either sticker works in the hopes of getting Trump elected president, both being very clear and concise in the end. We will just have to wait and see what happens on Tuesday.