Part 2: The Electorate
Work on a farm... this Summer : Join the U.S. Crop Corps; 1943; Spencer Douglass Crockwell; United States, Office of War Information, Division of Public Inquiries; Source: University of North Texas Digital Library
Look to Your Right, 2010
This poster was a response to an article by Thomas Sowel, which suggested American democracy was being dismantled by the Obama administration. He compared the president to Hitler and Lenin, both of whom cultivated "useful idiots" (citizens who normally are not politically engaged) to support their radical aims. Sarah Palin asked her followers to read this article. And, its sentiments made their way to a billboard in Mason City, Iowa, showing Hitler, Obama, and Lenin over the headline: Radical Leaders Pray on the Fearful and Naive. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote an opinion piece about Sowel's article in the July 18, 2010 edition of the paper.
This is the second ad Jeff Gates placed in the Washington, DC Metro in the month leading up to the 2012 presidential election.
In 2015, anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller, submitted a proposal to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for an ad featuring the winner of a "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest. The ad was rejected after WMATA banned all "issue-oriented" ads in its system.
In March 2017, a former Egyptian political prisoner's ad campaign set to run during Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi's April visit to Washington was also rejected on the same grounds. Citing free speech, the ACLU filed a suit a few months later, but the ban remains in effect.
Support the Radical Center, 2010
In his New York Times op-ed, journalist Thomas Friedman suggested the 2012 Presidential election might be the right time for a viable third party, one that "will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies."
Citizens are losing confidence in our government's ability to run the country and we are losing ground on the international stage, both economically and politically. According to Friedman, "There is a revolution brewing in the country, and it is not just on the right wing but in the radical center."
We're Bleeding Liberals, 2012
This poster, along with its companion, I'm a Die-Hard Conservative (next poster), remind us there are shades of gray in our society. The issues are not simple, and voters' opinions are often a mix of party affiliation, class, and personal experience. Often, it's difficult to classify people's positions into simple black and white terms. At the very least, we should be curious enough to question our leaders’ biases and to acknowledge our own.
Make This Pledge: I pay no more than top legal prices; I accept no rationed goods without giving up ration stamps, 1943, Office of Price Administration, U.S. G.P.O., Source: World War II Poster Collection at Northwestern University Library
Enough is Enough! You're Not Listening., 2012
"Sometimes an institution becomes too sick to fix itself…Sometimes an institution, like an individual, needs an intervention, from people, from friends, from outside."
— Lawrence Lessig, Republic, Lost
You Can't Shut Us up by Turning off the Internet, 2011
When the Egyptian government turned off the internet during their Arab Spring protests, it was a reminder that we can't always assume the free flow of information is a given. This poster isn't just about Egypt. It's about everyone's right to inform and be informed. It's also about our responsibility to understand how information is used and misused.
Your right to vote is your opportunity to protect, over here the freedoms for which Americans fight over there., Chester Raymond Miller, circa 1943, Part of the Think America Institute's World War II poster campaign. Source: Library of Congress
Chronicles of American Politics: The Posters of the Chamomile Tea Party
Part 1: Partisanship on Overdrive
Part 2: The Electorate
Part 3: Politicians and Our Political Process
Part 4: The Issues
Download a brief bibliography of topics covered in these exhibits.
Next, Part 3: Politicians and Our Political Process
All Chamomile Tea Party posters are published under a Creative Commons license. You are free to distribute these posters with attribution, providing the purpose is non-commercial and they are not altered. High resolution posters are free and can be downloaded via chamomileteaparty.com.
The Chamomile Tea Party was formed to comment on the bluster of the Tea Party, which began in 2009 as a protest against Barack Obama's social and fiscal agendas. In the intervening eight years, the political landscape has morphed. Tranquility and compromise, which, at the time, seemed merely difficult to obtain, now seems impossible. These posters reflect the conflicts the American political system has been experiencing during this turbulent period. They are meant to encourage an exploration and a dialogue about the cultural minefield we now find ourselves in. The Chamomile Tea Party is affiliated with Artists for a Better Image, Inc.
Jeff Gates is an artist and writer. He has a B.A. in political science from Michigan State University and an M.F.A. in graphic design and photography from UCLA. He is the recipient of two Artist Fellowships for his photographs from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the founder of Artists for a Better Image, where he studies stereotypes of artists in contemporary culture. His art is in the collections of museums such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Huntington Library, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the International Center for Photography. He has written for publications such as The Washington Post, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and Smithsonian Magazine.