Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2006 Issue

On Voting

Wilkie

Feelings matter


By Bruce McKinney

Voting has a mysterious power. Those who didn't have it have stormed barricades to get it. The American south felt it was so important they passed laws to keep it beyond the reach of blacks and other minorities. Chicago became famous as the city where voting was so important even dead people did it. In totalitarian regimes 99% of the population vote and they vote 100% of the time for their esteemed leader. To some it obviously matters a great deal; to others not so much.

Voting, we learned in school, is essentially an intellectual process. Know the candidates, know the issues, vote. It turns out there is and always has been an emotional component. FDR was more appealing than Wendell Wilkie. I recall my Mother, a Republican, speaking of Jack Kennedy, a Democrat, "as interesting." She was looking at the man, not the party, as she was a life-long Republican.

Over the past fifty years those who sell products and services have, in the course of learning to market detergents and toothpaste, also learned a great deal about human behavior. We would like to think we buy "logically" but it turns out we frequently buy "emotionally." "It's appealing" is not a factual statement.

Increasingly we have seen the lessons of selling soap used to sell other things and for about 25 years there's been increasing use of direct emotional appeals in politics both to encourage support for one candidate and/or discourage support for another. LBJ's presidential campaign in 1964 ushered in the new era with a Christina's world scene and an atomic bomb voice over. Since then it has been down hill all the way.

At the heart of current political advertising is the negative message that induces fear and revulsion but can not be rebutted in the same fifteen seconds it takes to scare you. The impression is made. Such advertising is employed by the unethical on behalf of the dishonest who believe winning is the only thing that matters. You're human and they mistake this for stupidity. It's easy for anyone, me included, to be swept away by advertising created by professionals, market tested, and scientifically aimed at our vulnerabilities. They plan it for months and lob it in at the opportune moment, hand grenades tossed into the baby nursery. It's well thought out and absolutely unethical.

That they do this is their crime: that we accept it ours. If we give them our vote we reward them. If we stay away, disgusted, we also reward them. The only way we render judgment is with our votes against them.

As we approach this election please be prepared. There are no wrong answers in the voting booth and few people can vote intelligently for every initiative and race. I vote for what I understand and stop there but vote knowing my vote has never changed the outcome of an election.

We live in an interdependent world. The police and fire departments protect me. Teachers taught me and teach my children today. Mechanics at a local dealership maintain my car. My wife and I provide services to book dealers and book collectors in every state and many countries. I call my neighbor if I notice they have forgotten to close their garage door. I support local schools and I vote. It's a privilege to be an American and I repay my debt in a small way on election days. I hope on November 7th you too will acknowledge your debt and cast your vote. It's important.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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