Keep-Calm.jpg

Keep Calm And Win This Thing

In 1939, grim days were upon England. As the Nazi menace crept across Europe, England stood practically alone against the rising darkness. It seemed only a matter of time before Hitler’s unstoppable war machine would leap the Channel, and invade.

Winston Churchill, in his 1939 “A Hush Falls Over Europe” speech, described the moment:

“It is the hush of suspense, and in many lands it is the hush of fear. Listen! No, listen carefully; I think I hear something-yes, there it was quite clear. Don’t you hear it? It is the tramp of armies crunching the gravel of the parade-grounds, splashing through rain-soaked fields, the tramp of two million German soldiers and more than a million Italians.”

England mobilized (a vastly longer story than can be covered here), and in the process of that mobilization, three cultural artifacts emerged that are, in a strangely perfect way, right for the moment we are in as the finish line of the 2012 election heaves into view.

What are these artifacts? Three starkly beautiful propaganda posters. Oh, there are many, many more, but these three are on my mind tonight.

You’ve all seen the most famous one: a singular image, the Tudor crown over four simple words. The moment we see it today, it evokes an image of British courage in the darkest hours of World War II.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

So British. So steady. So counter to the Teutonic excesses of Herr Hitler and his war machine. It speaks to the character of an England ready to face Germany on her own soil. Designed to be used after the inevitable invasion came, one can imagine seeing them by the thousands, plastered on walls and kiosks, on Tube platforms, on pub walls and village signboards.

We have trouble grappling today with the impact of advertising and propaganda posters. While fascinating, they seem deeply anachronistic. However, in a world where radio and print were the mass communication vectors that mattered, Keep Calm and Carry on would have been a touchstone to England’s self-image in the darkest hours…and the Ministry of Information had 2.5 million printed for just that purpose.

But the iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was never widely distributed. Endless remixes and mashups have made it famous, but the poster was reserved for an invasion that never came, and was nearly lost to history.

When my son and I were in the Imperial War Museum in London over Christmas two years ago, there was the un-issued “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster…but next to it were the two posters that were used during the run-up to and during World War II. I was deeply moved by both of them, more so than by Keep Calm and Carry On, which although I liked, always seemed a bit fatalistic to me as an American.

Today, as the campaign grinds into its final, brutal days, it’s important to remember the other two in this series, and to take them to heart in the coming long hours.

The first, and most widely distributed was this:

Courage.jpg

Your Courage. Your Cheerfulness. Your Resolution. Will Bring Us Victory.

They weren’t pitching a draw. They were after victory. There were unashamed of the word, as we should be unashamed of it now.

It came to mind today because we are at the end a long, tough campaign against Barack Obama, his toadies, enablers, cheerleaders and media hagiographers. It’s been brutal, ugly, and exhausting. But victory is in sight.

The Eeyores among us are now catching the vapors with every up and down in the news coverage. They are possessed with a fearful sense that we are so close, but that somehow, some way Barack Obama will pull off a miracle. They’re overthinking the small stuff and falling prey to the con game on the other side. They see the rise and fall of the entire effort in the stochastic noise of a hundred polls. Some of our own are still under the sway of Baghdad Nate.

But friends, remember this in the next four days as you knock those last doors, and make those last calls and as you cast that ballot on Tuesday: your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us victory.

Remember it when the inevitable last-weekend opposition research attacks hit tonight or Saturday. Remember it when your last, stubborn, low-engagement friends need convincing. Remember it when the advocacy faction of the media tries to tweak some gaffe into “Mitt Romney: History’s Greatest Villain” all weekend.

Remember it when the egregious, almost comical lies about absolutely every aspect of Romney’s record, character, and history are treated as breathless, cosmic revelations that rock the race to its very core. Remember it as the press tries one last time to restore the only thing Obama had had going for him in this race: the illusion of inevitability.

Go into this last weekend as happy warriors.

Your Courage. Your Cheerfulness. Your Resolution. Will Bring Us Victory.

And if you’re tired or disheartened or burned out or done with the screaming and just want to quit in the final days, I hope you’ll remember the third poster in the series. I like to think if I were in London in 1939, it would be the one that kept me going, and I hope it will for you:

Defend.jpg

Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might.

Now, get to work, knock doors, make calls, talk to your friends and go vote on Tuesday.

Note: No, Barack Obama isn’t Hitler and the Democrats aren’t the Nazis. That I must add this caveat is a tiresome reminder that the political correctness police have their hissy-fit settings turned up to 11 in these final days.

  1. with me where I am

    I can accept these posters as appropriate for Americans only if the crown represents the sovereignty of the American people. That sovereignty is what I’m fighting for. Only we citizens can give up our rights, and sadly we have already given up many of them.

    Thank you very much for sharing, Rick. I don’t think I’d ever seen the bottom two posters.

  2. ChuckMenoFalls

    Who amongst us has the applicable graphic artist skills to re-brand these with the Romney Ryan double R logo to replace the crown, substituting “carry on” with the titled “win this thing” ?

  3. Trink

    You, sir – are a patriot.

    I needed this.

  4. Keith Doherty

    keepcalm.png

    How about this?

  5. Rick Wilson
    C

    Asked and answered:

    YourCourage.jpg

    ChuckMenoFalls: Who amongst us has the applicable graphic artist skills to re-brand these with the Romney Ryan double R logo to replace the crown, substituting “carry on” with the titled “win this thing” ? · 15 minutes ago

  6. Jimmy Carter

    I’m not worried. Barry will meet the same fate of all snake-oil salesmen who over promise and under deliver.

    It’s the American Way.

  7. Leslie Watkins

    Political correctness—as your moving essay shows—wants to make history the worst possible thing, boring.

  8. ConservativeWanderer

    I’m sorry, every time I see “Keep Calm,” I can’t help but think of Ivar’s seafood restaurants, based out of Seattle, and their founder’s slogan:

    ivar.jpg

  9. Nick Stuart
    Rick Wilson: Note: No, Barack Obama isn’t Hitler and the Democrats aren’t the Nazis.  · 1 hour ago

    The totalitarian impulse is there however.

    Just because our new overlords will wear casual earth tones with smiley face buttons instead of black uniforms with death’s head insignia, it will be no less oppressive.

    Whether you’re arrested for a hate crime, or a thought crime, you’re in jail just the same. The Soviet regime used criminal convicts to terrorize the political prisoners. There will be no need to create a separate Gulag, just use the one we already have.

    We can only be thankful that we haven’t got to the point were we can be dragged out of our houses in the middle of the night to come down to police headquarters for a voluntary interview about some impolitic tidbit we posted on the Internet, for which we then get arrested and held incommunicado and without bail . . .

  10. ConservativeWanderer
    Leslie Watkins: Political correctness—as your moving essay shows—wants to make history the worst possible thing, boring. · 5 minutes ago

    True story.

    I hated history in school, even flunking 2nd semester American History in my senior year (though I think the fact that I had Reagan stickers on my notebook and the teacher was a hard-line Democrat might have had something to do with that), until I went to the local junior college and took the “equivalent” course in order to get my diploma, and met Professor Kenneth Bruce.

    Prof. Bruce made it interesting… he made it a story. And I’ve loved history ever since.

    Oh, almost forgot… I aced Prof. Bruce’s classes… yes, I went back for more. He was that fun and interesting.

  11. Melanie Graham
    C

    Thanks Rick. Need a pick-me-up every now and then! (And another cup of coffee).

  12. James Of England
    Nevada seems likely to be the tipping point state. The early voting figures, assuming Ds vote O, Rs vote R, and independents vote 60/40 R/O, mean we need to win by 7% on election day. Given Johnson’s strength in Nevada, we may need an 8% lead on the day.

    That’s very close to what we’d expect (in 2008, we won on the day, but not by that margin; polls are better for us this time).

    Crude extrapolations put us at a tie, the sort of result that could easily be shifted by a few hundred votes. A single caller working through the weekend could easily turn out a hundred votes with a few thousand calls. A single family could easily turn the result in Nevada.

    If we win Nevada and Colorado, and avoid an Obama upset in a red state we don’t need Ohio; any state other than New Hampshire would do it.

    Tonight, and this weekend, you hold the future of your country, your church, and your family in your hands.

    If you choose to spend it playing golf, you increase the chances of getting a President who shares those values.

  13. James Of England

    I understand that some of you want to send a message of non-support. If you care about the outcome, but feel a strong urge to vote a statement on drugs, sex, or pacifism, go ahead and vote your ego, but make calls for Romney.

    Voting is important. Calling is vastly more important, even if you live in a swing state. Your educated, passionate, vote is worth less than a percent of the hundred plus stupid votes you persuade to get to the polls.

  14. madpoet

    Love those posters, and the encouragement, Rick. 

    To quote something a little more recent – “You’re all clear, kid. Now let’s blow this thing and go home!”

  15. GirlWithAPearl

    FANTASTIC, Rick.

    To tell the truth, I’ve been avoiding Ricochet recently because of the excessive doom factor.

    My husband and I are on the same wavelength. We’ve been watching British WWII stuff almost non-stop for weeks. If you have Netflix streaming, we highly recommend the series Foyle’s War. Each episode is a totally engrossing feature length film and always includes a murder mystery plus several plot lines that pull you into the daily lives of Brits fighting on the home front. Another great series on Netflix is titled Wish Me Luck – about the British civilians (mostly women) who went into France undercover to gather intel and work with French Resistance. The bonus in both is the gorgeous scenery and geography, mainly southern England (Hastings area) and northern France (Normandy). One episode of Foyle contains a nice omen, centering on a stretch of coastline named “Romney’s Cove.” And of course there’s the hands down, all-time greatest British war propaganda film ever made: Mrs. Miniver, which holds up magnificently to this day and still has unique power to stir the soul and steel the spine – starring Greer Garson, Walter Pigeon and Teresa Wright.

    FoyleMiniver.jpg

  16. Western Chauvinist

    James of England,

    I never got the call to drive anyone to early voting, but I did get a call yesterday asking me to drive a van load of canvassers (from Oklahoma?). Apparently the GOP is enlisting help from surrounding states to come into the swing states to canvass. This is going on today, through the weekend, right up to voting day. If you don’t want to knock on doors, you can volunteer to drive the rental van carrying those who will. My shift is Monday. Can’t wait to be with a pack of cheerful Romney supporters!

    And yes, stay cheerful. We’re unlikely to sway anyone with doom and gloom (she says while trying not to wet herself out of fear). We’re at the pinnacle of the roller coaster, folks. You can either tighten your grip or throw up your hands and scream with delight. Either way, the ride is almost over.

    Clear Eyes

    Full Hearts

    Can’t Lose

  17. Susan in Seattle

    Excellent post; thank you very much for this!

    And, Ivar Haglund.  He was much loved in this neck of the woods.  There’s a campaign going to have the next Washington State ferry named for him.  I, too think of “Keep Clam” whenever I see the “Keep Calm and Carry On” sign.

    ConservativeWanderer: I’m sorry, every time I see “Keep Calm,” I can’t help but think of Ivar’s seafood restaurants, based out of Seattle, and their founder’s slogan: · 3 hours ago

  18. Trink

    Sis! You are a patriot !!  I’ve worked up the nerve to put my Romney Ryan sign out tonight.  And even as I type . . . I’m wearing my red,white, and blue Ann Romney “Clear Eyes” . . “Full Hearts” . . ‘America Can’t Lose” bracelets :)

    Western Chauvinist: James of England,

     If you don’t want to knock on doors, you can volunteer to drive the rental van carrying those who will. My shift is Monday. 

    And yes, stay cheerful.  Either way, the ride is almost over.

    Clear Eyes

    Full Hearts

    Can’t Lose · 1 hour ago

  19. KaneCountyFarmboy

    If you are still fatalistic, think Kris Kristofferson in Amerika…  like Red Dawn but without the epilogue.

  20. James Of England
    Western Chauvinist: James of England,

    I never got the call to drive anyone to early voting, but I did get a call yesterday asking me to drive a van load of canvassers (from Oklahoma?). Apparently the GOP is enlisting help from surrounding states to come into the swing states to canvass. This is going on today, through the weekend, right up to voting day. If you don’t want to knock on doors, you can volunteer to drive the rental van carrying those who will. My shift is Monday. Can’t wait to be with a pack of cheerful Romney supporters!

    And yes, stay cheerful…..

    Clear Eyes

    Full Hearts

    Can’t Lose · 18 hours ago

    Thank you. It’s helpful to be reassured that the baleful consequences of the conservative mindset (leading us to volunteer far too late in the game) are being mitigated by the positive side (we do eventually volunteer.) 

    This weekend is the last opportunity for people who are not taking time off work to put in some serious hours to calling. Lets hope decent numbers of folks, like your Oklahomans, start turning out.