I’m not an advertising student, but even I know that slogans are one of the best ways to sell a product. McDonalds’ musical “I’m lovin’ it” is perfectly designed to stick in your mind. If you see someone sporting some Nike shoes, you may think of a certain iconic Shia LaBeouf video. And, thanks to their marketing, you know that State Farm is there for you “like a good neighbor” when you need them.
But food chains and clothing brands aren’t the only ones who use slogans to market. American presidential candidates have done the same thing since the 1800s. From gems like “You Can’t Lick Our Dick” to Barack Obama’s simple “Hope,” we as a young nation had heard a lot of them over the years.
By far the most baffling one, however, is Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”
The point of a campaign slogan, as far as I understand it, is to be straightforward. Hillary Clinton wanted people to be “With Her.” Mitt Romney wanted people to “Believe In America.” But in his slogan, Donald Trump promises not only to make America great, but to make it great again.
I have to ask: what exactly is this “again” that he’s referring to? When – and I mean this sincerely – was America ever great?
If Trump’s answer is any time period pre-Civil War, it’s disqualified because, you know, slavery. In fact, any year before 1964 is not a valid answer thanks to the whole legal segregation thing.
This means we have fifty years to work with, then. If Trump were to answer that the Great America he wants to return to existed in the late ’60s, he’d have to explain what exactly was great about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. As for the ’70s, the beginning is immediately written off because of Nixon. The rest is also kind of ruined by the continuing Cold War going on in the background. The ’80s? Reagan and the AIDS crisis.
The ’90s actually saw a marked improvement in social climate, but I’m sure those aren’t the “great” years that Trump is talking about. He could be talking about the new millennium, but the Iraq War and mounting surveillance via the Patriot Act kind of ruin the early 2000s, in my opinion. The only time period left is the near-decade of the Obama Administration, but considering who we’re talking about, I doubt that Trump would ever consider those years great, either.
So, when were the great American glory days that he promised to restore us to? If we asked Donald Trump himself, I doubt he’d be able to tell us either.
Here’s the thing about Trump: it’s easy to look at him, in all of his pasty, orange skinned glory, and forget that you’re staring at a business man. He’s a guy who knows how to spin something out of nothing and make it sell. And he just sold an entire nation a fairy tale about an America that never existed.
featured photo credit: Thomas Hawk Mount Rushmore via photopin (license)