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Pinback Buttons Are the Original Twitter | Make Your Own Election Pins

Twitter, as we all know very well now, is the place where lots of folks talk politics and make political statements. But before Twitter, how did people stake their political claims? Buttons of course. 

We have noted many times on this blog the role that buttons have had in the history of elections, but let's look at some campaigns from the past that used buttons to really change the way conversations happen in election, much like how Twitter, and social media in general, have changed the modern political discourse. 

In the 1940s, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt was running for his third term against Republican candidate Wendell Willkie. Willkie was a long shot to win, but he was aggressive with his election campaign merchandise. His use of buttons, as seen in this Life article, for election were a highlight. 

Willkies vintage campaign buttons

Here are a few of his button designs that ditched campaign slogans and were made to respond to election stories as they happened. Not as instant as Twitter, maybe, but the intention was the same. 

Clever Election Button DesignPins for Political Campaigns

Campaign buttons have been around since 1790, but this is the election that changed the course of election campaigns with its new focus on catchy slogans and commentary. And now Twitter plays a heavy hand in political commentary, but buttons still remain as vehicles to push a political message and candidate's name and party in a tangible, very visible way.

And buttons continue to be one of the most affordable election products out there. 

To read more about Willkie's buttons, you can check out some of the great coverage from 1940 here:

Willkie's Buttons (New Yorker)

Willkie is Way Ahead in the Battle of Buttons (LIFE)

Article first published by People Power Press, check out also their comprehensive Guide to Election Buttons.


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