What Makes A Political Slogan Great? Dick Jokes And Witchcraft, Apparently.

It seems like politics is in the news non-stop these days. There are many reasons for that, good and bad. Mostly bad. But one thing everyone seems to be talking about is the next presidential election. 

You know how Christmas decorations start showing up in stores earlier and earlier every year? Well, the same can be said for presidential candidates. It used to be elections only started getting news coverage during the year they actually took place. But now we argue and obsess over political candidates for months leading up to the first primaries. What a joy. 

That gets me thinking about campaign slogans. You know, those pithy and horribly punny phases that candidates use to win public support? Some slogans celebrate the achievements of a candidate, while others attack the shortcomings of their opponents. 

Over the years, there have been some amazing ones, and some spectacularly bad ones. After all, nothing makes me want to perform my civic duty more than the thought of bushy testicles. 

The first official (and successful) campaign slogan was “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” which was created for William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, in 1840. “Tippecanoe” referenced a battle against Native Americans that Harrison helped lead. I guess launching your presidential campaign by touting your genocidal achievements was cutting edge back then. Now it’s standard operating procedure for Republicans.

Some of my favorite campaign slogans hinge on the fact that Americans are incredibly apathetic. In 1900, William McKinley went with “Let Well Enough Alone.” McKinley hoped that Americans were feeling okay enough not to care about changing things. I guess they did, because he won his race. However, he was assassinated the next year. So apparently there was one dude who didn’t, in fact, leave well enough alone. 

There’s also this slogan for Minnesota Senator Andrew Stephens. 

So inspiring!

There’s been a trend recently toward shorter and shorter slogans. My favorite has to be Jeb Bush’s for his failed 2016 campaign. Jeb was accused of being low-energy. So his campaign thought the perfect response was to create the slogan “Jeb!” 

Can’t you just feel the excitement in that exclamation point? Jeb sure couldn’t. He dropped out of the race shortly thereafter.

Campaign slogans love puns. But most of all they love dick jokes. Franklin Pierce’s 1852 slogan was “We Polked You in ’44, We Shall Pierce You in ’52!” Hot. New York Gov. Al Smith ran against Herbert Hoover in 1928 with this amazing tagline: 

His platform was “Wet” because he wanted to repeal Prohibition and bring back drinking. Sure, Al. Let’s go with that.

But it was Nixon who really embraced his dickness. His campaign had multiple dick-related puns, including “I Like Dick!” and “Dick, Now More Than Ever.” And my personal favorite:

Even prostitutes got in on the dick pun fun, although they refused to back a specific candidate:

But maybe my all time favorite political slogan came from Republican Christine O’Donnell, who campaigned for the Delaware Senate seat vacated by Joe Biden in 2010. In 1999 a video surfaced of O’Donnell talking about her experience as a witch. 

In the video, she claimed “I dabbled into witchcraft — I never joined a coven. But…I hung around people who were doing these things…One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s little blood there and stuff like that. We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.” 

As you can imagine, this caused a bit of cauldron stir. Which prompted the O’Donnell campaign to come up with a brilliant rebuttal, which then became her inevitable campaign slogan:

Personally, I would never vote for a Republican. But I will give serious thought to the first presidential candidate who throws caution to the wind and runs on a bold “I am a witch!’ campaign. Because that’s a slogan I would proudly wear as a button.

Pin It on Pinterest