Wednesday, November 3, 2010
An incident in an Illinois polling station today gave a small indication of Reagan's perseverance as a partisan icon in American politics when Mary Jo Tenuto was asked to cover up her Reagan Centennial t-shirt before she could vote. She complied, but wasn't happy: "I felt like this is an infringement on my rights. I’m putting on a T-shirt. It wasn’t endorsing a party. . . . Ronald Reagan is dead. He is not on the ballot." The shirt is certainly one of the more inocuous examples of Reagan-wear, but the extent to which Republicans, particularly in this election, have aligned themselves with his image and memory, the response is not that surprising. A Lincoln t-shirt - presumably abundant in Illinois - would probably be fine, but it will be a while before Reagan ascends above the partisan fray to a bland national iconography.