The Slogan Gap, pt 2 – Make Political Slogans Great Again

I’ve already discussed Clinton’s not very good slogans (one that could be okay in different circumstances and one that will always be terrible).

Time for Make America Great Again.

I don’t know where Trump got that or how much he paid for it, but whatever he paid he got a bargain.

The main presuppositions (see here) are:

  • America was great
  • America is not great now
  • You can help it become great
  • Voting for Trump will be your contribution (it doesn’t create a longterm commitment)*

In addition it has a neat acronym MAGA with visual reminders of words like MEGA (with connotations of grandeur and opulence) and MAGMA (primal eruptions….. calling Dr Freud) and maybe even CRO MAGNON, a little strained but in line with part of Trump’s appeal to some men: a return to a primal sexual order. Again if there are other connotations please let me know.

The main genius behind the slogan is that it creates its own little reality pocket and when you enter it you can’t leave except on its terms.

“America is already great” is a terrible way to try to rebut it as it accepts the central premise (that America should be great) because being great is an open drive to be greater and “already great” implies being satisfied with a lack of forward momentum.

But… if you take the politically justifiable approach that there’s no objective reason for a country to be “great” then you lose the emotional argument which, given human nature, will always be a big part of political campaign.

The only good defense I can think of quickly (there may be others, please share) would be to opt in to the basic premise but move the time line.

“Yes, I want America to be great again. That’s why I voted for Obama and will vote for Clinton”

This moves the decline back safely into the W years and positions Clinton as the continuation of the long process of national recovery.

But Clinton couldn’t do that herself because she was running a Something Different campaign, possibly due to personal dislike between her and Obama.

Also, it’s a bit wordy, maybe something like “What do you think Obama and Clinton have been trying to do?” is a little pithier in placing the decline on W and re-framing Clinton as part of an ongoing project of national renewal and implicitly blaming the addressee for not pulling their weight in the effort.

You can’t fight an emotional argument with logic and facts. Well you can, but you’ll have your ass handed back to you on a plate every. single. time.

*in contrast, I’m With Her does imply a longterm commitment that many (like me) might balk at

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