Friday, October 23, 2020


Did I ever tell you about the time I……….

Yes, Grandpa you did, many times.


Well, I was seven years old during the campaign of 1940. I remember the beanie cap I wore covered with FDR buttons. Henry Wallace was his running mate and Wendell Willkie, the bad guy.

Roosevelt was not only my hero; he was God incarnate. He spoke with patrician authority as if from on high with his fireside chats. I even imagined the fire.

Of course, Willkie turned out to be one of the best bad guys in political history. He and Roosevelt were on the same page in so far as recognizing the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazi war machine. The isolationist Republicans disowned him as he got trounced 449-82 in the electoral vote of 1940.

After the election FDR asked him to serve as a roving ambassador and he traveled abroad pleading the internationalist cause. In his book, One World, he not only advocated for a world order but also denounced Colonialism. Sadly, he died before the war was over.

Willkie deserved a special place he was never accorded on my beanie. Of course, my beanie is long gone but I do have a political button collection going back to Abraham Lincoln. Skip a few decades and I see Grover Cleveland’s face on one along with his running mate and there are William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson and I even have a Roosevelt/Cox button from his unsuccessful bid in 1920.  

George McGovern must have put all his meager resources into buttons. I have about forty of them. By the time Clinton ran, buttons started getting larger. An Obama button is ten times the size of some of FDR’s. I have one button showing the faces of nineteen ex-Presidents. 

Maybe that was a sign of their demise. I don’t see buttons anymore. Instead they’ve been replaced first by bumper stickers, then T-shirts and lawn signs and now by red caps and unmasked faces. We are walking billboards.

No button is large enough to contain Trump’s egomania. The only button needed for the first Presidential debate was the one Trump should have had on his lip. His behavior was so maniacal it called for a muzzle or mute button in last night’s debate though I don’t think it was used. In spite of his rambling bluster he did a fine impersonation of a grown-up.

I wonder if he has a Russian-American dictionary in his desk along with a one-way ticket to Moscow. The thought of his finger on the button to launch the nukes for another term is a prospect devoutly to be dreaded.



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