The political conventions have come to an end for 2012. The speeches have been made. The cheering is over and the balloons have all dropped. Political conventions today are so well-scripted that there is rarely any real excitement. Conventions open and the nominations for president and vice president are foregone conclusions.
It hasn’t always been that way. Take 1912 for example.
For the Republicans, winning the election of 1912 should not have been that difficult. The nation was at peace and had been so for 14 years. The country was prosperous. A relatively popular Republican, William Howard Taft, was the incumbent president. He had been the hand-chosen successor by Theodore Roosevelt, who left office in 1909 as an extremely popular chief executive.
In fact, when Election Day in November was over, Democrats won only 42 percent of the votes. Problem was, the Republicans won only 23 percent. In fact, things ended up so bad for the GOP that Taft, the incumbent, came in third in the election. Second place was taken by Roosevelt, who didn’t care for Taft’s policies after all and jumped into the race in the summer as a third-party candidate when he lost the GOP nomination to Taft.
Although Roosevelt had won the overwhelming majority of the primaries in the spring, convention delegates were not bound to a candidate. Backroom deals gave the nomination to Taft. Roosevelt and supporters stormed out of the convention, reconvening weeks later in the same Chicago hall to form the Progressive Party, otherwise known as the Bull Moose Party. The Progressives took 27 percent of the vote in November. Put their votes with the GOP and it totaled 50 percent, and a defeat for Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
This three-way race for president is a bonanza for us political collectors. It’s in the midst of the Golden Age of Political Buttons. The designs and colors of buttons remain unprecedented. There is a great array of buttons for Wilson, Taft and Roosevelt – word pins and photo pins.
Jugate pins (two-photo pins) for Wilson/Marshall and Taft/Sherman come in various designs and are popular with collectors, but the true dream come true for a political collector is to find a Roosevelt/Johnson jugate. These pins for the Progressive Party candidates that year demand at least $1,000 each if in excellent condition.
Having just one TR/Johnson in a collection would make most collectors very, very happy.