Badge promoting Ronald Reagan for president, a souvenir of the Republican National Convention, Detroit, 1980. Hard plastic, with metal clasp attached to the back. Dutchess Advertising Specialties, Poughkeepsie, New York.
Reagan's image appears at the end of the tunnel, which a car (symbolizing the auto industry) enters.
The American auto industry, long the economic engine of the Great Lakes region and bellweather of the national economy, hit a rough patch of road in the recessionary late 1970s. The slowdown wasn't helped by an energy crisis and increased competition from foreign automakers, flooding the market with cheap, fuel-efficient cars. Many hoped that a change in Washington would improve the fortunes of the Motor City, and the country as a whole.
It was no coincidence that Detroit was chosen to host the 1980 Republican National Convention, which nominated Reagan. The sunny Californian, whose promises of a "return to greatness" resonated with an electorate beset with uncertainty about its future, handily won the state's 21 electoral votes in November.