Wednesday, October 13, 2010

13 October 1956 “It’s an election year here in 1956”

girlswithpolpin This year, 1956, was an election year. This year saw a repeat of 1952 in that both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson would be opponents in the Presidential race. This time around, however, Eisenhower had been running the country for the past four years. His victory was fairly plain to see. He had ended the Korean war and the country was booming in prosperity. Though issues such as the high cost of food remained concerns of American’s.
eisenhower56 Dwight D.Eisenhower and adlai Adlai Stevenson.
Eisenhower’s running mate would again be Richard Nixon (our current vice-president here in 1956) though privately Eisenhower did not want him. He felt Nixon was too partisan and controversial. Nixon had, since 1952, greatly changed the power and position of the office of the vice-president. He began to use the office as a platform to run and help elect Republican’s at state and local elections, a power never held nor demonstrated by the office before.
herter Eisenhower would have preferred Massachusetts Governor Christian Herter. I find this a very interesting choice, as Herter, today, would be seen as a liberal elite, though in fact he was a Republican from Massachusetts. But, he had been born in Paris to Artist parents, educated in NYC and Harvard. He was well versed in foreign affairs and honestly, as we were to find out, much more honest than Nixon.
So, in the Republican National Convention this year held in San Francisco, CA, there was no discussion, Eisenhower was elected to run for the Republican Party.
Adlai Stevenson, whose unique name was used in this tv ad
did not so easily get elected to run on the Democratic ticket. He was up against Tennessee Democrat Estes Kefauver. Their neck and neck campaign for the bid to run as Democratic Presidential hopeful resulted in another TV first this year: the first televised presidential debate. It occurred, of course, between these two democrats. The final result being that Stevenson was again to run for president and this time Kefauver would be his running mate.
Adlai Heralded from the Midwest, Illinois. What is interesting in the political world of 1956, is the south supported him and was mainly Democratic. What I did find interesting about Stevenson was that, though he was wealthy, as any Presidential candidate now had to be, he lived very modestly. He did not have a lavish home nor spend as a rich man. This thrift actually became a laughing point and was used against him (if you can believe it) in a campaign button for the Ike (Eisenhower) party.ikebuttons56There had been circulated a photograph of Stevenson being interviewed and when he crossed his leg, he had a hole in his shoe. This was somehow seen and used against him, in these buttons. I find it interesting that the ‘spin’ in this case was that you might end up with holes in your shoes if you vote for him. But not that he might be frugal and therefore care more about country and saving money than how he looks our sounds on tv. In fact, he did not like the idea of tv ads and was rather wooden in the tv spots he was required to perform during the election year.
In response to this, the Democratic Women used the image with pride in this button dembutton Of course, leave it to we homemakers to notice thrift for its good attributes. Even if you were an Ike supporter, and most of the country was, you had to acknowledge the silliness in seeing thrift as bad.
It is interesting that concern for the small farmer and the increasing growing corporate business (which really has signalled the end to the small business in our country) was topical then.
Here is a map of the results of this year’s election.56 electionresults You can see that the south farming states were strongly Democratic.
A very interesting thing happened at the Democratic Convention when Adlai Stevenson was chosen, he let the convention choose his running mate. This was never done before and the two leading contenders were Kefauver and a new young Senator, John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts. Adlai Stevenson privately wanted Kennedy, but in the end it was to be Kefauver. Of course we now that we would hear from Kennedy again come next election, when he became our president in 1960. Many changes are to occur from now to 1960.
I have often been shocked, in the modern world, by both political parties use of advertising to get elected. Their ‘subterfuge’ is really quite modern and savvy. Yet, I was surprised to see, this was happening here in 1950’s. In fact, the political arena has always been a platform of finding what the country cares about and play it up during the election year. What is different about this year, 1956, is we are really comfortably in the TV/Media age.
In 1952, when this pair ran against one another, there were less tv sets. And prior to that fewer still. In 1946 there were 6000 tv sets in America, by 1950 there were 12 million. That is a large increase. Yet, by 1956 more than half of Americans owned a TV set. It was not only here to stay, but it was a talking platform in our homes. Commercials and ads had become a normal part of the American evening. So, that platform was finally really utilized.
This was an ad against the current president Eisenhower. It is interesting how they use his words against him, much as is done in today’s political climate.
This cartoon ad also has similar rings to today, with mention of getting in or out of a war we may or may not have needed (in this case it was Korea, which we had been out of at this point). What is really interesting in the second ad is the mention of a possible invasion of Communist China. Imagine had we really a time machine and could go to 1956 and tell the people that Communist China is stronger than ever and that almost all the things in our homes and business are produced there. Frightening to think of for them, yet to we modern people, hardly ever mentioned.
Of course, on the Republican sides, such ads were also prevalent as this one here

The idea of running a campaign based on fear rather than simple facts was already becoming the norm. And in this ad we see, already, that one party wants to use simple buzz words such as family and religion, as if only one party truly cares about one’s families.
I have been accused of being political before on this blog, though I have never intended to be. In fact I hate politics in that it seems just another game to play and all it does is separate the majority of people and turn us against one another. When, really, we would be greatly helped if we put these things aside and just tried to actually make a world we could be proud of that was fair for all.
I might be considered political in saying things against the large corporation of today, but honestly, all that we love about the 1950’s and earlier are very counter-big corporation. The very demise of the small business and the American dream is due to their monopoly on our towns and wallets. Even the immigration problem that seems to worry so many is in fact due to the corporation, as they are working on large corporate run farms and not at the local privately owned drug store or mom and pop restaurant.
It is a sad side affect that my project has, along with creating my love of this time and respect for the people of that era, it has made me see, more clearly, our own current world. I have to say I am not happy with our current or even recently prior conditions of this country. I can see the writing on the wall, as they say, and as the digital world increases I think we will see more than just our manufacturing leaving our country for overseas. I believe what is left to the majority of us, our towns and small business the ability to care for ourselves and children and our land, is slowly vanishing. The sad this is the smoke screen of worry over the government controlling us hides that we are really very controlled now by the corporations and in fact the government is largely run by those involved in the big corporations. The idea of ‘two sides fighting it out’ is almost some great ruse to keep us separate, when really they all seem to be fighting for the same master, the Almighty Dollar over us. I wonder, then, when we are so quickly sold out to the large corporations for a fast buck, what shall we have left. And those who are left, what shall we care about? I am sorry if that seems political, but it is, quite honestly, how I now feel after two years of very detailed study of all facets of our country.
Who would have thought when I began looking through old magazines for recipes or dress styles, that I would find myself falling down the rabbit hole of discovery of our current American condition. I am sorry if this seems offensive to anyone, but it is in fact my LOVE of America and what it once meant that I feel saddened. You can call a duck what you like, slick it up, throw smoke screens or put it in an expensive three piece suit on TV, but if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, you can bet it IS a duck. And it seems rather Republican or Democrat, we have many fancy ducks these days.
I hope we gals and gents can make a little difference.
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