New Perspectives on Political Advertising

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Dan Nimmo et al. | Go to book overview

♦ I ♦

THE EVOLUTION OF
POLITICAL ADVERTISING
IN AMERICA

Kathleen Hall Jamieson

BEFORE THE ADVENT of the mass media made it possible to situate political advertising between the comics and the obituaries, between Fibber McGee and Molly, between the trenches of "Winds of War" and the clenches of "Dallas," those aspiring to public office were faced with the need either to make multiple copies of their message to transmit to individual voters or to assemble voters in order to deliver the campaign's appeals to them. Accordingly "treats" and torchparades drew voters to political messages; partisan newspapers and pamphlets infiltrated voters' homes; banners, broadsides, and billboards insinuated their messages into the public forum; buttons, badges, kerchiefs, and bandannas transformed the supporter into an advertisement; and existing channels such as postcards and envelopes were suborned for political purposes.

Although we tend to recast our forebearers as dour, starched, other‐ worldly Puritans motivated to civic involvement by an oppressive sense of obligation, from our earliest elections, food and fun were used to motivate political participation. So, for example, as a candidate for the House of Burgesses in Virginia, George Washington "treated" the electors in his district to rum, punch, wine, cider, and beer (Chambers,

-i-

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