Turning a mirror on male facial hair

January 12th, 2016 by Ken

What’s all this commotion about facial hair on men?

Recently The Olympian mentioned that the newest member of the Olympia City Council – -Clark Gilman – – has a beard, keeping up the tradition of previous male members of that council including former mayor Stephen Buxbaum and councilmember Steve Langer.

Then , The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the vanishing facial hair of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who grew a beard when he was selected for the position, and recently shaved it off – – after criticism from some political commentators.

Facial hair on men in politics has always been a hairy issue.  Men in politics didn’t have a beard or mustache before the Civil War.  For two decades after that, several American presidents had facial hair including Abraham Lincoln.   But, sometime around the turn of the 20th Century facial hair disappeared from men in politics with two exceptions.   Tom Dewey’s mustache was often touted as the reason he lost the presidency against clean-shaven Harry Truman.    And – – don’t forget Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow which explains why those on radio thought he had won his debate with John Kennedy and those watching it on television said he lost.

In local politics, we have had few men with beards or mustaches in public office.    The Olympian pointed out those on the Olympia City Council.   In Lacey, our most famous hairy guy is Graeme Sackrison, who not only served as Lacey’s mayor and a member of the Lacey City Council, but is now on the school board.  Two others currently on the city council – with beards – are Lenny Greenstein and Jeff Gadman.

Men with hair on their faces is becoming more and more common.  In the future, many of them will be running for public office.   And, while I’m not in public office, I’ve had a beard since 1966. (The picture above is from 1974.)

Posted in History, Local Politics, The Real News

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