6 Reasons Why Politicians Wear Lapel Pins
Lapel pins are an accessory that feature a metal pin with a molded design on them, and they are suitable for various occasions and events. Moreover, they are also worn by people to reflect something special or important, such as a cause or a movement. More commonly known as enamel pins, lapel pins are also used by brands and companies for their promotions, as well as to reward employees for their hard work.
Although you may not have noticed it, but politicians and world leaders are also known to sport a lapel pin every now and then. Generally, they have the design of their country’s flag on the lapel pin, but there are also other types of lapel pins that they wear, either as a show of support or to reflect their ideology and beliefs.
This article covers all the reasons why you see lapel pins worn by politicians, and also the different kinds of lapel pins that they are seen wearing.
Presidential Flag Pins
Usually, world leaders wear presidential flag pins, which are enameled with their country flag and also have golden or silver borders. They are very elegant and can be identified from a distance. The purpose of wearing such lapel pins by politicians is to show that they are patriotic and true to their country, and would always uphold its sanctity and respect.
These pins are usually seen when these politicians visit delegations from other nations, or visit another country for agreements and discussions on key matters. In 1972, in the movie The Candidate, Robert Redford played a presidential candidate and sported an American flag pin on his suit ,which was later on adopted by President Richard Nixon on the advice of his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman. The lapel pin looked very regal on the President’s suit, and it became a symbol that is still used today.
Congressional pins are specially issued to members of the United States Congress, and they began being used in 1975. The purpose of these pins is for easy identification of Congress members by the press teams and security details, since there are hundreds of Congress members and hordes of other people in the building before the session begins.
Every session of Congress requires the issuance of a new Congressional pin, which also has a new design. The administrative wing of the House is responsible for choosing the design and issuing the pin to each member.
Post 9/11 Flag Pins
Although President Nixon started wearing the Presidential flag pin, not all politicians or presidential candidates followed the movement right away. In the 90s, most politicians started wearing the flag pin to support the US troops who were deployed to fight in the Gulf War, but it wasn’t until the fateful 9/11 terrorist attack when the then-President George Bush started wearing one.
It is famously reported that before the incident, the President didn’t have a lapel pin on him but when he addressed the nation following the attack, he and his top supporters were wearing the flag pin and as he asked his fellow Americans to stay united, the flag pin became a symbol of unity and was soon adopted by many people, including some politicians and members of Congress.
Lapel pins are also an integral part of the campaigns for the Presidential elections, as well as for other by-elections in the country. As mentioned above, the idea of wearing the pin came from The Candidate, where a Presidential candidate is seen wearing one. Although the movie came in the 70s, the first use of lapel pins for campaigns was done by William McKinley in 1896, who contested the election against William Jennings Bryan.
In recent times, lapel pins have been a major component of each and every election campaign, and all candidates wear them to show how patriotic and true they are to their roots. Lapel pins have become so ingrained in the political campaigning scenario that not wearing one can actually send the wrong message to your supporters, or give the opponents a chance to fling mud on your integrity.
This happened with President Barack Obama, who didn’t wear a lapel pin during his Presidential campaign. He was falsely quoted as saying that he would never wear the American flag on his lapel, although his sentiments were that he gave more value to what was in a person’s heart, and not what they wore on their lapel. His stance was that the lapel pin isn’t a true representation of patriotism, but it is determined by how a person treats their fellow American.
Apart from President Obama, all Presidential candidates before and after him have been known to sport a flag pin on their lapel, and judging by the bad press President Obama got because of this decision, it is highly unlikely that any future Presidential candidate would take such a bold step.
Making a Political Statement
One of the major reasons why any politician would wear a lapel pin, aside from a Presidential pin or a flag pin, is to make a strong political statement, one that is usually directed towards their opponents or people who don’t think too highly of them.
Many politicians have also made use of certain lapel pins to subtly throw shade at others. A popular example is of former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who was the female to hold this position. She is a lapel pin enthusiast and has even wrote a book on the topic. She is famous for using her lapel pin collection to give many of the US’ adversaries a piece of her mind.
For instance, she wore a lapel pin in the shape of a snake to a meeting on Iraq, just because the Iraqi media started calling her a serpent for echoing her views on Saddam Hussein. In another story, when she found out that the Russians had planted a listening device near her office, she wore a ‘bug’ shaped lapel pin to subtly imply that she knew about it. Moreover, she wore a missile-shaped lapel pin to antimissile treaty negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister of the time, and the pin certainly ‘disarmed’ him.
Another politician who used lapel pins to make a political statement is Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who is known to wear neon lapel pins in the shape of a bicycle. He is also the founder of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, and is also known to spearhead the Bike to Work Act, which bolstered the use of bicycles for work commute by more than 50%. The Congressmen is said to have roughly 10,000 bicycle lapel pins, and he also gives them out to his staff and guests.
Commemoration and Awareness
Just like normal people and celebrities, politicians are also known to wear lapel pins to commemorate something, or to raise awareness for a global cause or movement. One politician who did this recently is Senator Tim Kaine, who wore a Blue Star Service Flag pin during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
The Senator wore the lapel pin in honor of his son, who is a deployed Marine. However, the Republican Party in North Carolina tweeted about it and mistook the flag to be that of Honduras. Soon after, they realized their mistake and took down the tweet, but many users took a screenshot and posted it with the clarification regarding the flag.
Similarly, most politicians also wear lapel pins to raise awareness for global warming. These lapel pins have warming stripes on them, which were designed by climate scientist Ed Hawkins to represent the increase in global temperature from 1850 to 2018.
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