March in America’s quadrennial parade of presidential history. Feel the fun of campaign culture—
buttons and banners, cartoons and slogans, conventions, debates and stump speeches. With
magnification from the lens of history, see both the shining and soiled sides of candidates and their
strategies. Consider how campaigns have evolved to influence the 2020 election.
Wrestle with this year’s issues—from foreign interference to voter suppression, from climate change
to immigration. Consider third parties, slick ads and social media, big bucks and dirty tricks, and
the Electoral College. With special concentration on the elections of 1896, 1912, 1960, 2000 and, of
course, 2020, ask tough questions about our presidential election system. Does the American road
lead to the best candidates? Does our quadrennial parade produce the best presidents? And if not,
what reforms are possible?
Enjoy recommended readings and movies recounting past campaigns (and, if our calendar is
lucky, one live debate). Bring your own campaign memorabilia and campaign memories, your own
passions and respectful opinions. With history’s help, forecast the 2020 outcome. And by week’s
end, test Franklin Roosevelt’s words: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their
choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Steve Bruemmer is the retired Wright Family Distinguished Faculty Chair of the History Department
at the University School of Milwaukee. In the last 30 years, he has amassed one of the country’s most
impressive collections of original presidential campaign cartoons, dating from the 18th century to 2020.
Acknowledged as among the nation’s leading scholars of political satire, Steve, with his cartoon collection,
is returning to Björklunden with Charlie and items from his own collection of campaign memorabilia to
present their quadrennial exploration of America’s presidential elections.
Charlie Schudson is a Wisconsin Reserve Judge Emeritus, law professor and Fulbright Scholar. He
has served as the Lawrence University Law and Literature Scholar in Residence and has authored many
published works including Independence Corrupted/How America’s Judges Make Their Decisions
(University of Wisconsin Press, 2018). Charlie has been a featured guest on NPR, PBS, and Oprah.
In 2006, he served as an International Observer for the Venezuelan presidential election. This will be
Charlie’s 13th Björklunden seminar.
Steve and Charlie both are Phi Beta Kappa graduates of Dartmouth College. They both completed their
graduate degrees (Steve, in history; Charlie, in law) at the University of Wisconsin. Back by popular
demand, they are delighted, once again, to lead Björklunden’s campaign parade.