Chronicles of American Politics: The Posters of the Chamomile Tea Party, 2010-2020

Part 5: Post-Truth: The Contentious 2016 Election

Beware of Politicians Who Cough (2016-09-13) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Part 5: Post-Truth, the Contentious 2016 Election

The posters in this exhibition often focus on the Right's efforts to remake our country into a decentralized union with limited government interference. Like the Right, the Left is not immune to pressures to shape political and social reform from donors, ideologues, and their bases. Yet, the Republican and Democrat governing strategies are quite different.

Flawed Candidate: Hillary (2016-08-11) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

In 1960, historian and political scientist Clinton Rossiter began his book, Parties and Politics in America, by stating, "No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no parties without compromise and moderation."


While the Democrat Party has remained one of compromise and moderation, in 1995, the GOP moved away from this centrist position, focusing on "winning" at any cost. Rather than representing a breadth of conservative thought, they began casting their votes as a united bloc (often forced by such schemes as Newt Gingrich's Contract with America and Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge). They also used parliamentary rules, such as the filibuster, to oppose almost all legislation put forth by the Democrats.

Not having much of a policy agenda to counter the Democrats, the Republicans became known as "The Party of No." And, as we saw in 1996, 2013, and 2019, they were willing to shut down the government to get their way. In 2010, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the GOP's goals clear when he said, "Our top political priority in the next two years is to deny President Obama a second term."

When debating public policy, emotions replaced facts leading to what many refer to as the Post-Truth era. Long before Donald Trump's rise to power, politicians began making outlandish assertions, devoid of any evidence, about issues such as rape and abortion. Most prominent was the 2012 statement by Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO). When asked whether rape would justify abortion, he replied that pregnancy from rape was rare, and "if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

Prepare for the Worst: Political Ads are Coming! (2014-05-21) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Prepare for the Worst: Political Ads are Coming!, 2014

As the 2016 presidential campaign began, voters steeled themselves against the onslaught of political ads, not just from the candidates, but from the GOP and Democrats, as well as political action committees. As expected, viewers were bombarded by a constant barrage of accusations, devoid of any real substance. Sadly, voters gained little insight about the issues from these advertisements.

Forward to Victory (circa 1939-1945) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Forward to Victory, circa 1939-1945, Artist Unknown, United Kingdom

Don't Be a Dunce! (2015-02-08) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Simple Sam The Wasting Fool... Every Day He Breaks a Tool! (1942) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Simple Sam the Wasting Fool... : Every Day He Breaks a Tool!; 1942; Artist Unknown; RCA Manufacturing Company, Inc; Source: University of North Texas Digital Library

I Just Wanna Win! (2016-02-28) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

I Just Wanna Win!, 2016

During the 2016 presidential election, in an ABC interview, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP would support Donald Trump if he were the Republican nominee. Then he stated, "Winning is the antidote to a lot of things." At the time, part of his statement was spin. Many Republicans were trying to find any way they could to stop Trump.

But Priebus' statement also reveals what was most important to the GOP (and to a lesser extent, the Democrats): winning at any cost. Voters were angry that both parties had ignored issues critical to them for years, like immigration reform, health care, and the fair distribution of wealth.

Avenge December 7 (1942) by Bernard PerlinChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Avenge December 7, Bernard Perlin, 1942, United States Office of War Information, Source: Northwestern University Library

The GOP's Cirque Désolé (2015-12-28) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

The War in the Air (1914) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

The War In the Air, Russian poster, Artist Unknown, 1914

Demonize for Political Gain (2015-11-29) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Zip It : No More Narcissists (2015-07-26) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Zipp It : Carless Talk Costs Lives (Post-1940) by RadcliffChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Zipp It : Careless Talk Costs Lives, post-1940, Radcliff, Source: The National Archives (United Kingdom)

Red State Titanic : You Poor People Must Go Down With the Ship (2015-04-19) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Red State Titanic : You Poor People Must Go Down With the Ship, 2015

Political affiliation has now become more divisive than race. Winning elections has become more important than governance. These schisms are hurting the poor, the sick, and those who have fallen through any safety nets left in our society.

These groups have become targets by the right. In 2015, Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed "The Hope Act," which reduced subsidies to the poor and banned welfare recipients from using government funds to take cruises (as if any people have done that).

Missouri Republicans wanted to ban those on welfare from buying steak and seafood. And states’ attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act were putting people in jeopardy. As Vox's Ezra Klein wrote, the fight over "Obamacare" is making red states sicker and poorer.

White Star Line : R.M.S. Titantic (1912) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Titanic, 1912, Advertising poster for maiden voyage of the Titanic, White Star Line

Ceci N'est Pas un Juif Ni un Musulman. (This is neither a Jew nor a Muslim.) (2015-02-25) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Ceci n'est pas un Juif, ni un Muselman. (This is neither a Jew nor a Muslim.), 2015

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise in the United States.

In 2015, a 14-year-old Texas teenager, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. Despite telling his teachers it wasn't a bomb, the police arrested him anyway.

Fox News commentator, Ann Coulter, has no problem disparaging Jews. She referred to them as the "f---ing Jews" in a tweet.

And in November 2017, Donald Trump tweeted links to incendiary videos allegedly showing violent Muslims. He consistently portrayed Islam as dangerous, both with his words ("Islam hates us") and his deeds (the Muslim ban).

By 2021, anti-Semitic incidents were at a decade-long high. Tribalism is the antithesis of America’s “melting pot.”

[The title of this piece comes from René Magritte's painting, Ceci n'est pas une pipe.]

De Eeuwige Jood (The Eternal Jew) (1940) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

De Eeuwige Jood (The Eternal Jew), 1940, Dutch film poster of a German anti-Semitic propaganda film called "The Eternal Jew".

Translation of text at the bottom of the above poster:

The film was really spearheaded by Joseph Göbbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda.

False Prophet (2015-12-15) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

False Profit (2017-12-10) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

All Marxist Roads Lead to Moscow! Therefore CDU (1953) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

All Marxist paths lead to Moscow! Therefore CDU, campaign poster, originally created for the 1953 West German federal elections. The CDU was the Christian Democrats Party, led by Konrad Adenauer. This poster was meant to convey the leftist leanings of the CDU’s rival party,

Convenient Bullshit (2015-08-08) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Starting February 21 All Goods at Leningradodezhda (Leningrad Clothing Dept. Store) Are on Sale (1927) by Dmitry BulanovChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Dmitry Bulanov, 1927, Leningrad, Soviet Department store advertisement. The text is Russian and says: "Starting February 21 all goods at Leningradodezhda (Leningrad Clothing Dept. Store) are on sale." Source: Soviet Art, USSR Culture

America's Not a Used Car (2016-02-03) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Both the Republican and Democrat primaries revealed the divisions within each party.

History Is Filtered with Smoke and Mirrors (2013-02-16) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Isle of Anger and Unmet Promises (2016-03-20) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Flawed Candidate: Hillary (2016-08-11) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Flawed Presidential Candidates: Clinton, 2016

After decades, Americans were tired of voting for the "lesser of two evils." They were tired of flawed candidates. With our political system in such desperate need of an overhaul, they wanted real change no matter what it was. Surprising pundits, voters rejected "the known" for something revolutionary.

Hillary should have been concerned. Had she been elected, she would have found herself in a precarious political position. Progressives would have demanded she support Bernie Sanders's ideas of universal health care and free college education. Some believed she would continue along the path our military industrial complex has forged since the end of World War II. New York Times writer Maureen Dowd said, "Hillary will keep the establishment safe."

Clinton represented a past many wanted to leave far behind. Some questioned her morals. Others believed the hype about her role in Benghazi and her use of a private email server. The American people were tired of political subterfuge. Yet, to many, neither candidate possessed much integrity.

Flawed Candidate: Donald (2016-08-11) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Flawed Political Candidates: Trump, 2016

After Donald Trump announced his campaign for president in 2015, the post-truth era reached new pinnacles that have yet to abate. At first, the media didn't take Trump's claims seriously. But they resonated with his initial base: poor whites who felt left out of our country's economic gains and ignored by our politicians and the rest of society.

Trump's popularity was a reflection of citizens' desperation for change—so desperate, they were willing accept his mistruths because his populist rhetoric focused on their concerns and insecurities. At first, the Republican establishment rejected Trump. But, as the groundswell grew, they eventually embraced his candidacy in order to retain power.

Looking for Something Else (2015-05-25) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Looking for Something Else, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had controversial pasts, and many questioned how effective Bernie Sanders would be in the toxic atmosphere of Washington. Both parties are to blame for often putting forth lackluster candidates.

Governance has been impeded by "asymmetrical polarization." The GOP has moved much further to the extremes than the Democrats. And this makes it very hard for any compromise.

The Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements, to say nothing of progressives and blue-collar workers, were demanding significant changes: more job creation, racial and income equality, and a country where our tax dollars go to enrich our society instead of funding misguided wars and oligarchs.

The voters were sick of politics as usual. They were looking for something else: something the establishment was reticent to give us.

Wear Your Goggles (1942) by Pat KeelyChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Wear Your Goggles; 1942; Pat Keely; Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Ministry of Labour and National Service; United Kingdom

My Way Is the American Way (2016-08-26) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

MY WAY is the American Way, 2016

Over the last 60 years, the political divide has only widened, as seen in the infographic video below. People who populate the ends of our political spectrum, such as those from the Tea Party and alt-right groups on one end and progressives and the Antifa on the other, made themselves heard this election.

People are angry and voicing it. And each has their version of "the American Way." But no one is winning. We don't talk to each other. We yell. Instead, we should enlarge our notion of the American way—of what we want this country to be. It's not just MY WAY. It's OUR WAY.

Video: This animation shows how divided Congress has become in the last 60 years. 2016

Herkules-Bier (Hercules Beer) (1926) by Ludwig HohlweinChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Advertisement for Herkules Bier, circa 1926, Ludwig Hohlwein. Source: Print Magazine

Beware of Politicians Who Cough (2016-09-13) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Beware of Politicians Who Cough, 2016

In September 2016, at a political rally in Cleveland, Hillary Clinton had a coughing attack as she spoke. She joked, “Every time I think about Trump I get allergic.” Trump seized on her coughing and accused the media of ignoring her health and stamina to be president. He tweeted, “Mainstream media never covered Hillary’s massive ‘hacking’ or coughing attack, yet it is #1 trending.”

Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases (circa 1960) by British Ministry of HealthChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases : He's a public enemy, trap your germs in a handkerchief, circa 1960, British Ministry of Health, Source: British Museum

Trump Learns to Act Presidential (2016-10-02) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Trump Learns to Act Presidential, 2016

After the GOP embraced the Trump campaign, many felt once he became president his campaign rhetoric would soften as he grew into the job as “President for all the people.” We know now, that didn’t happen. But many Americans couldn’t understand why he was so impervious to serious scrutiny in light of reports about his not paying taxes and his body-shaming and misogynistic attitudes.

Why were so many Americans enamored with him? The divide was great. And there was anger and mistrust on both sides. This article from October 2, 2016 edition of The Washington Post offers some clues. And since the election, there have been others who are trying to understand.

Kellar (1894) by Strobridge & Co. LithChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Kellar, 1894, Strobridge & Co. Lith., Source: Library of Congress

What!! You're Voting for Who? (2016-07-31) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

What!! You're Voting for Who?, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were not universally loved. During the election, each had a disapproval rating of over 50%. Some Bernie supporters were so incensed by the Democratic Party's nominating procedures and their perception of Hillary's record, many refused to vote for her, even if it meant a Trump victory. Instead, we heard, "I must vote my conscience." This enraged many Democrats.

The GOP is not the only party with a serious ideological split.

Project Engineer Strong (1929)Chamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Soviet poster for the film Project Engineer Strong, 1929

When Politicians Act Bad (2016-09-11) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Don't Clean the Cylinders While They Are in Motion (1920s) by UnknownChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Soviet safety poster. It says in Russian, "Don't Clean The Cylinder While It's Moving," circa 1920s. Source: io9

A Total Breakdown of the American Ethos (2016-09-22) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

A Total Breakdown of the American Ethos, 2016

Americans are confused, angry, and fractured. And the 2016 presidential election was a reflection of this. We can no longer rely on the traditional left/right political spectrum to define our world. It no longer reflects our political and social processes. If you're interested in a better charting of our political belief systems (and one that acknowledges its complicated and overlapping structure, take a look at the Asplund Chart).

If we can just wait it out, clarity will rise with our new world order (whether we like that new order or not). But, for now, I'm calling to report a total breakdown in the American ethos. Don't put me on hold!

Western Electric Magazine Ad (1952)Chamomile Tea Party

Source Advertisement

This is the original 1952 Western Electric print ad which featured the image used in this poster.

The first paragraph of the ad states:

"One of the most valuable defense weapons this country has is known to all the world. It's the biggest and most dependable telephone network on earth!—ready day and night to carry the calls that speed production and coordinate defense."

GOP: We'll Remember... (2016-06-22) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

The Circus Procession (1888) by McLoughlin Bros, N.Y.Chamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

This illustration is the front page of the 1888 children's book, The Circus Procession, Source: Library of Congress

I've Had Enough of This Damn Election! (2016-10-31) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

I've Had Enough of This Damn Election!, 2016

The 2016 presidential election seemed to go on forever. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump announced their candidacies in the first half of 2015. For well over a year, the American people suffered the antics, subterfuge, and sexual and email revelations from this campaign. The media played a large role in this mess.

While there were reputable journalists who wrote insightful analyses of the issues, there were other media outlets who profited by sensationalizing this election. This often brought out the worst in the American people. It couldn't end soon enough—sad, considering what's at stake for this country.

I Tú Que Hos Fet Per La Victoria? (And You? What have you done for victory? ) (1938) by Unified Socialist Party / General Union of Workers, Catalonia, SpainChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

I Tú Que Hos Fet Per La Victoria? (And You? What have you done for victory? ), Unified Socialist Party / General Union of Workers, Catalonia, Spain, 1938

Waiting (2016-01-27) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

Hungry! Spoiled work feeds the vulture of wast. STARVE HIM! (1929) by Willard Frederick Elmes, Mather & CompanyChamomile Tea Party

Source Poster

Hungry! Spoiled work feeds the vulture of waste. Starve Him!, 1929, Willard Frederick Elmes, Mather & Company. Source: Library of Congress

Massacre Repeat Massacre Repeat Massacre Repeat (2017-10-13) by Jeff GatesChamomile Tea Party

You have reached the end of Part 5: Post Truth: The Contentious 2016 Election. Use the table of contents below to view Part 6: Post Election: Post Truth Reaches New Heights or to return to any other section of this series.

Chronicles of American Politics: The Posters of the Chamomile Tea Party

Table of Contents

Credits: Story

Next, Part 6: Post Election: Post-Truth Reaches New Heights

Jeff Gates is an artist and writer. He formed the Chamomile Tea Party in 2010 to comment on the sad state of American political dialogue. Compromise, which, at the time, seemed merely difficult to obtain, now seems impossible. These posters reflect our political conflicts during this turbulent period and are meant to encourage exploration of our society’s cultural minefield.

Gates has a BA in political science from Michigan State and an MFA in graphic design and photography from UCLA. He’s the recipient of two Photography Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is in museum collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the International Center for Photography. He has written for publications such as The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and National Public Radio.

These posters are free to download and distribute with attribution, providing they are unaltered and for non-commercial purposes only.

Contact the artist.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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