To Know Where You’re Going, It Helps to Know Where You’ve Been

The recently published Presidential Campaign Posters: Two Hundred Years of Election Art highlights the imagery that has helped to shape American political opinion for the past couple hundred years.

1856: James Buchanan (Democrat) v. James Fremont (Republican) v. Millard Fillmore (American)

1864: Abraham Lincoln (Republican) v. George B. McClellan (Democrat)

1872: Ulysses S. Grant (Republican) v. Horace Greeley (Liberal Republican)


1924: Calvin Coolidge (Republican) v. John Davis (Democrat) v. Robert La Follette (Progressive)

1928: Herbert Hoover (Republican) v. Al Smith (Democrat)


1968: Richard M. Nixon (Republican) v. Hubert Humphrey (Democrat) v. George Wallace (Independent)

1972: Richard M. Nixon (Republican) v. George McGovern (Democrat)

1980: Ronald Reagan (Republican) v. Jimmy Carter (Democrat) v. John Anderson (Independent)

2008: Barack Obama (Democrat) v. John McCain (Republican)

NPR media reporter Brooke Gladstone lends her voice to the book’s introduction and offers “Political art is nothing less than an illustration of the skirmishes and stalemates that created and continue to animate the American experiment. As you look at each poster and read about each campaign, it becomes increasingly clear that the tug of war over taxes and trade, the distribution of wealth and power, and the role of government itself, will never end.”

All old will again be made new. And while our war of ideologies may continue to define the American way for the foreseeable future, it does not mean that we should dismiss efforts to make this country better – no matter how many years that endeavor takes. Because growth is a constant process, not one we can absolve ourselves from as we try to stall in neutral.

May we embrace the changes that lay ahead, and may we continue to learn from past stumblings.