I’m guessing that 21st century kids don’t obsess over accumulating stuff as much as the ones which grew up in the pre-smart phone era. Hockey/baseball cards, comic books, stamps, coins, marbles, matchbox cars etc. used to be commodities aspiring capitalists like me amassed and openly traded in imaginary markets based on dreams and trends. One of my odd pursuits with the thought of aspiring wealth was hoarding political campaign buttons. Not the American ones you see above but Canadian political buttons. So in the 1980’s I found out that if you mailed letters to politicians asking for campaign buttons chances were very likely that their staff were more than happy to use their stationary and postal benefits to accommodate my requests. An added bonus was the fact that if you were mailing letters to MPs you didn’t have to affix postage stamps – just pop the letters in the mail to proper addresses in Ottawa or Queen’s Park and watch the bubble packages pour in. Eventually, Parliamentary officials got wind of my postage dodging scheme and a letter arrived from the Speaker of the House of Commons demanding I cease taking advantage of the stamp amnesty. Cool! By then, I had accumulated hundreds of buttons from lowly backbenchers to cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney himself.
After that button acquisition continued to be a bit of an obsession and it extended to provincial premiers like the ones shown to left, and U.S. politicians. The buttons were posted on cork boards through my teens until my parents moved the same year I went off to University when they all went into boxes and stored in various basements for the next 20 years.
When my wife’s war on hoarding began in the mid 00s it was time to unload those one thousand plus buttons from politicians, many of whom had gone on to humiliating defeats, purgatory, or faded glories where they were enjoying their golden pensions at taxpayer expense. Still, I couldn’t bear the thought of taking them curb side so I began an ambitious undertaking to post them in batches of 20 on ebay. The proceeds of those transactions allowed me to empty two large plastic Tupperware tubs in exchange for the tiny US buttons you see above which were individually won in ebay auctions before fitting quite nicely in a small shadowbox. My oldest one is of President William McKinley, though I’m quite happy I’ve got a not so easy to find Theodore Roosevelt button, and there is one Canadian relic from 1942 celebrating Confederation’s diamond jubilee.
Now with a federal election ticking away with just less than 2 months to go I thought I’d blend my fascination with political buttons and my day job as an editorial cartoonist, to come up with some gag buttons – available at the Mackaycartoons Boutique at Redbubble on various accessories. My inspiration is Margaret Atwood’s piece in the National Post last Friday on the topic of hair in the election campaign, which set off a bit of a scandal after the article disappeared on the Post’s website bringing on howls from social media accusing the newspaper of censorship. It became better known as #hairgate. Anyway, the headline asked if hair is crucial to the question of your vote, which I answered in a most definite affirmative, and motivated me to do these buttons of the four main national leaders. Unlike the 3 men running, not much has been said of Elizabeth May’s hair in the 10 years she’s been kicking around as a veteran leader of the Green Party. However, I do bring up a question of May’s leadership longevity no one bothers to even ask about. I suppose it comes down to the same problem the withered Bloc Quebecois has having Gilles Duceppe as it’s only leader-for-life-if-its-party-has-any-chance-to-grow. Needless to say, I won’t even bother doing a Duceppe button.