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Home Vintage Political Cartoons Shady Politics, Keep Out!

Shady Politics, Keep Out!



Shady Politics, keep out!  Farmer Public put up a scarecrow in 1928 to keep trouble out of his presidential politics, but those old crows showed up anyway.   As best I can read, the crows are named "Dark Horse Politics" on the right arm, "Machine Politics" on the left, a "Politician" on top of the 'campaign scandals', and "Caucus", "Hotel Room Nomination", "Convention Deadlock Politics", and "Favorite Son Politics" digging around in the dirt.

Let's meet these crows:


  • "Favorite Son Politics" are to promote a candidate for president who is unlikely to ever get the nomination, but gets a special interest a lot of free publicity for their goals.  It mostly applies to states or regions trying to get a foothold on a national level, but by introducing more noise to the signal, favorite son politics can drown out the viable candidates.
  • A "Hotel Room Nomination" is when a candidate is backed by a silent minority, meeting behind closed doors, but throwing their power behind getting their favorite nominee into power.  A corruption of the democratic process, it makes it difficult to determine who has the backing of the people, and who has the backing of powerful friends.
  • "Dark Horse Politics" introduce a viable third party, which siphons voters away from the mainstream two parties; or, it can represent a schism with a more radial mainline party, which challenges the devotion of the party members to the candidate who fulfills the voter's ideology.
  • "Machine Politics" is politics for politics' sake, the rank-and-file organization of a political party that moves along entirely under its own power.  For the ideologically pure, this sounds like a good thing, but moving opposite the political machine can get original, creative, and progressive ideas crushed under the treads.
  • When you end up with a "Convention Deadlock", your party has problems: you're losing ground in getting into the two-party election promotion, and you've got a pretty clear proof that none of your candidates is particularly preferred over each other.   Political self-interest can cause such deadlocks, too, when you've got two candidates on opposite sides of issues within the same party.
  • "Campaign Scandals", well, those never work out well for the party or the candidates.
When you look at the 1928 presidential run, you've got candidates pushing populism to downplay big business connections, you're coming off oil-industry scandals, one candidate's religion brings doubt to his ability to lead, and one candidate's push for legalizing a controlled substance pretty much makes him unelectable.  The election itself was between Herbert Hoover and Al Smith.  Who's Al Smith you ask?  Well, he's the guy with the crazy Catholic religion that nobody trusts, and he was a "wet", opposed to alcohol Prohibition.   He recanted his "wet" support, but made an effort to downplay his devotion to the Pope in Rome.   You know how well that election went for Mr. Smith.  Hoover was Mr. Big-Business, but he managed to overcome anti-capitalist attitudes and get himself elected in time to witness a huge stock-market crash less than a year after his inauguration.  Hoover cut taxes and slowed government spending, thus acerbating the depression.