Politicians are missing their chance for posterity | Editor's Column

Many political candidates during the present depression are shortchanging history by not ordering campaign buttons, which is usually their sole, lasting contribution to politics.

A lot of people collect campaign buttons. I don’t, but I’ve accrued a few through the years and every time I see one, I’m reminded of the person it represents. I think of Brett Wilhelm, Mark Norton, Rick Bart, Dean Enell, Doug Roulstone, Bruce Guthrie, Linda Haddon, Ann McDonald, Sue Karahalios, Tim Knue, Patricia Terry, Nancy Conard and Reece Rose quite a lot because I see their buttons daily on my bulletin board. The fact they all lost the particular races they were running for is irrelevant because their names will live on at least until I’m tossed out of this office and my bulletin board made of old-fashioned cork is left in the dumpster. But even if my buttons disappear, I know that other, identical buttons are squirreled away in any number of drawers and shoe boxes across Island County.

Purchasing a gross of metal campaign buttons with sharp pins on the back is no guarantee of success in politics, but it will keep your name alive for many years to come. Of course, I also have winners’ buttons distributed by the likes of Mark Brown, John Dean, Dave Mattens, Helen Price Johnson and Greg Banks, all presently serving in county offices.

My main concern is that the only new button I’ve seen this campaign season is a Dave Mattens button. You can tell he’s an astute politician because his button doesn’t say what he’s running for. That way, he can use the same buttons year after year, as long as he doesn’t change his name. Greg Banks, whose buttons says “Re-Elect Banks, Prosecutor-D,” is pretty much stuck running for prosecutor the rest of his life unless he wants to order a bunch of new buttons.

My biggest button is the size of a small Frisbee, distributed by Jim Palmer, an Oak Harbor councilman. I like the size but dislike the fact it’s got a plastic cover over a non-metallic surface. Politicians should stick with the traditional metal buttons which go all the way back to the days of .... Google it yourself, I’m busy.

One of the things I like best about traditional campaign buttons is the sharp metal pin in back, which can be stuck into fabric, plywood, sheet rock or human skin. It’s the only dangerous item that, so far, no lawyer has sued anyone over. It’s probably because all lawyers secretly want to hold an elective office and figure they might need a button of their own someday. I’d like the piercing crowd we see at the mall to get more politically active by sticking political buttons through their ears, noses and belly buttons, instead of meaningless metal bars.

A lot of politicians don’t bother with buttons. Barbara Bailey, for example, hands out round stickers that look like buttons, but they’re paper and don’t have pins on the back. It’s a safe-and-sane political button and cheaper than the metal kind. But she’s been in office long enough to finally buy some real buttons to assure that her name too will live forever on bulletin boards and in drawers and shoe boxes.

For the sake of history and their own posterity, all politicians should order some campaign buttons today.

Just make sure they’re not made in China.

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