The Button

Sometimes what you find surprises you. Look what turned up in my basement!

Decluttering my basement has been a multi-year task, but necessary, as at some point we will downsize. I hate the thought, but realize the inevitability – at some point my arthritic knees may reject the stairs. Which means, on a regular basis, I have been sorting and tossing stuff kept in the basement storage area.

My parents never got around to doing that. When they moved to a retirement residence there wasn’t much time for sorting, and some of what I am going through these days comes from their old house. Deciding not to keep their stuff is a lot easier than memorabilia from my youth.

There are a couple of dozen plastic storage containers. The easiest thing to do would be to just throw everything out, without looking at what’s inside. Which would mean arbitrarily tossing out memories. I’m not ready to do that yet, though I can feel the day coming.

Still, over the years I have made some progress, and I continue to pick away at it. Some things though I can’t decide upon. Like this political campaign button from 1972.

I don’t remember where or when I picked this up. It may have been fifty years ago. Certainly not long afterward. I do remember why though – I figured it to be a rarity.

I probably don’t have any other American political memorabilia. I have tossed much of my Canadian stuff – I had a lot, not surprising after a life in politics. But this may be it for US ephemera.

I do know what the attraction was though. The McGovern/Eagleton ticket was the shortest lasting president/vice president pairing in American history. Eagleton was removed from the ticket after nineteen days, replaced by Sergeant Shriver, and the pair then suffered the worst defeat in American presidential campaign history, winning only Massachusetts in the electoral college

Eagleton was dumped when it was revealed he had previously been hospitalized for depression. These days that isn’t as big a deal as it was in 1972. Back then we didn’t talk about any sort of mental illness, and people kept such diagnoses hidden. Initially Initially McGovern backed Eagleton, but after consulting with medical experts decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to have someone in a fragile mental state that close to the nuclear button.

The short-lived vice-presidential run didn’t affect the rest of Eagleton’s political career though. A Senator at the time of his VP nomination, Eagleton served in that house until 1987, when he left for a career in academia.

These days we are far more open to discussing mental illness. There is the realization that many of us have similar issues. Even now though, I’m not sure we would want someone dealing with mental challenges as president or vice president of the USA.

I heard that thought. You just mentally asked, “but what about Donald Trump?” Good question. Wish I had an answer. Is narcissism the same as other mental illnesses?



  1. Neil Remington Abramson · · Reply

    If you sported a McGovern/Eagleton button back in the early ‘70s, your politics must have been over to the other side of the road back when you were a kid. Lucky you never ran. They’d have accused you of flip-flopping, if your past could be found without the internet. For normal people, flip-flopping is known as learning, or simply growing up. All this could be said of me as well, and probably everyone that used to be known as a “thinking man”, or as I would prefer – a “thinking wo/man” to include both male & female.

    1. I’ve never tried to hide my leftist past. I still hold to many of those beliefs, though not the new wokism. The real difference now is that with age has come the realization that socialist ideals, nice as they are, are not only fiscally unworkable but probably also theologically untenable.

      Mind you, I’m pretty sure I bought the button as a curiosity. As a Canadian I wouldn’t have been supporting US candidates.

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