Make America Great Again
"Make America Great Again" (often abbreviated as MAGA //) is a campaign slogan used in American politics that was popularized by Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan used the similar slogan "Let's make America great again" in his successful 1980 presidential campaign. Bill Clinton also used the phrase in speeches during his successful 1992 presidential campaign and again in a radio commercial aired for his wife Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential primary campaign. Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen has called Trump's use of the phrase as "probably the most resonant campaign slogan in recent history," citing large majorities of Americans who believed the country was in decline. The slogan has become a pop culture phenomenon, seeing widespread use and spawning numerous variants in the arts, entertainment, and politics, and used both by those who support and oppose the presidency of Donald Trump. In the Trump era, Voice of America has called the slogan a loaded phrase because it "doesn't just appeal to people who hear it as racist coded language, but also those who have felt a loss of status as other groups have become more empowered."
Use by Ronald Reagan
"Let's make America great again" was first used in Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign, when the United States was suffering from a worsening economy at home marked by stagflation. Using the country's economic distress as a springboard for his campaign, Reagan used the slogan to stir a sense of patriotism among the electorate.
Use by Bill Clinton
The phrase was also used in speeches by Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign; however, it was not a slogan of the campaign. Clinton also used the phrase in a radio commercial aired for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential primary campaign.
During the 2016 electoral campaign, Clinton suggested that Trump's version, used as a campaign rallying cry, was a message to white Southerners that Trump was promising to "give you an economy you had 50 years ago, and... move you back up on the social totem pole and other people down."
Use by Donald Trump
On September 16, 2011, Roger Stone, Trump's longtime political advisor and a veteran of Reagan's 1980 campaign, tweeted the slogan: "Make America Great Again --TRUMP HUCKABEE 2012 #nomormons". Two months later, in December 2011, Trump made a statement in which he said he was unwilling to rule out running as a presidential candidate in the future, explaining "I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again". Also in December 2011, he published a book using as a subtitle the similar phrase "Making America #1 Again" — which in a 2015 reissue would be changed to "Make America Great Again!"
Trump himself began using the slogan formally on November 7, 2012, the day after Barack Obama won his reelection against Mitt Romney. By his own account, Trump first considered "We Will Make America Great", but did not feel like it had the right "ring" to it. "Make America Great" was his next slogan idea, but upon further reflection, he felt that it was a slight to America because it implied that America was never great. After selecting "Make America Great Again", Trump immediately had an attorney register it. (Trump later said that he was unaware of Reagan's use in 1980 until 2015, but noted that "he didn't trademark it".) On November 12 he signed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office requesting exclusive rights to use the slogan for political purposes. It was registered as a service mark on July 14, 2015, after Trump formally began his 2016 presidential campaign and demonstrated that he was using the slogan for the purpose stated on the application.
During the campaign, Trump often used the slogan, especially by wearing hats emblazoned with the phrase in white letters, which soon became popular among his supporters. The slogan was so important to the campaign that at one point it spent more on making the hats – sold for $25 each on its website – than on polling, consultants, or television commercials. The candidate claimed that "millions" were sold. Following Trump's election, the website of his presidential transition was established at greatagain.gov. President Trump stated in January 2017 that the slogan of his 2020 reelection campaign would be "Keep America Great" and immediately ordered a lawyer to trademark it. Trump tweeted "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" on September 1, 2018, apparently in response to Meghan McCain telling approximately 3,000 mourners at John McCain's memorial service, "The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great."
Donald Trump took the campaign slogan to social media (primarily to Twitter), using the hashtags #makeamericagreatagain and its abbreviation #maga. In response to criticism regarding his frequent and untraditional usage of social media, Trump defended himself by tweeting "My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!" on July 1, 2017. This comment claimed to justify his usage of social media as his main preferred method of communicating to his supporter-base.
In the first half of 2017 alone, Trump repeated his slogan on Twitter 33 times. In an article for Bloomberg News, Mark Whitehouse noted "A regression analysis suggests the phrase adds (very roughly) 51,000 to a post's retweet-and-favorite count, which is important given that the average Trump tweet attracts a total of 107,000."
Trump attributed his victory (in part) to social media when he said "I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches, and social media." According to RiteTag, the estimated hourly statistics for #maga on Twitter alone include: 1,304 unique tweets, 5,820,000 hashtag exposure, and 3,424 retweets with 14% of #maga tweets including images, 55% including links, and 51% including mentions.
Donald Trump set up his Twitter account in March 2009. His follower-count increased significantly following the announcement (June 16, 2015) of his intention to run for president in the 2016 presidential election, with particularly notable spikes occurring after his securing the Republican Party nomination (May 3, 2016) and after winning the presidency.
Use by others
Political commentator and author Peter Beinart published a 2006 book titled The Good Fight: Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again drawing on the philosophy of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr after the Invasion of Iraq and early years of the War on Terror.
After Donald Trump popularized the use of the phrase, the phrase and modifications of it became widely used to refer to his election campaign and his politics. Trump's primary opponents, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker, began using "Make America Great Again" in speeches, inciting Trump to send cease-and-desist letters to them. Trump claimed after the election that the hats "were copied, unfortunately. It was knocked off by 10 to one [...] but it was a slogan, and every time somebody buys one, that's an advertisement". Cruz later sold hats featuring, "Make Trump Debate Again", in response to Trump's boycotting the Iowa January 28, 2016, debate.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that America "was never that great" during a September 2018 bill signing. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder questioned the slogan in a March 2019 interview on MSNBC, asking "Exactly when did you think America was great?"
In June 2017, Emmanuel Macron, President of France, rebuked Trump over withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. The last sentence of the speech delivered by him was "make our planet great again".
In October 2018, during his campaign for the 2019 Indonesian presidential election, opposition leader Prabowo Subianto used the phrase "make Indonesia great again", though he denied having copied Trump.
Members of the Fridays for Future Movement have often used slogans like "Make Earth Greta Again", referring to Greta Thunberg. In 2019, Grant Armour and Milene Larsson co-directed a documentary film named Make the World Greta Again.
In popular culture
The phrase and its variants are widely used and parodied in media. For example:
- Make Everything Great Again is a street art mural by artist Mindaugas Bonanu in Vilnius, Lithuania.
- In Spring of 2019, artist Kate Kretz made a series of artworks by ripping apart MAGA hats and sewing them into traditional symbols of hatred, and was subsequently banned from Facebook.
- Comedian David Cross's 2016 stand-up tour was titled "Making America Great Again".
- Comedian Tom Myers referenced the slogan in the title of his 2018 comedy album Make America Innate Again (2018).
- Conventions and events
- In 2016, two Dragon Con cosplayers claiming an association with Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, and dressed as the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks, wore "Make FishCenter Great Again" hats.
- Adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with President Trump, took part in a "Make America Horny Again" strip club tour.
- In Holmes & Watson (2018), Sherlock Holmes wears a "Make England Great Again" hat in one scene.
- The Syfy film Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017) was released with the tagline "Make America Bait Again".
- The tagline for The Purge: Election Year (2016) is "Keep America Great" (copying the slogan for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign); one of the TV spots for the film featured Americans who explained why they support the Purge, with one stating he does so "to keep my country [America] great." The next film in the franchise, The First Purge, was subsequently advertised with a poster featuring its title stylized on a MAGA hat.
- The Assassin's Creed Odyssey (2018) video games character Cleon says, "Make Athens Great Again", during his campaign against Pericles.
- In video game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013), the final boss, senator Steven Armstrong recites this phrase to the protagonist, Raiden.
- In the video game Mortal Kombat 11 (2019), Shao Kahn urges Mortal Kombat 11 newcomer Kollector to "let us make Outworld great again."
- The video game Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (2017) used "Make America Nazi-Free Again" in its marketing campaign.
- Fall Out Boy released a remix of their album American Beauty/American Psycho titled Make America Psycho Again.
- Rapper Kevin Gates released a song in 2018 called M.A.T.A, meaning Make America Trap Again.
- Make America Rock Again was a rock concert tour.
- Rap rock supergroup Prophets of Rage, consisting of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, called their 2017 nationwide tour the "Make America Rage Again Tour", using a stage backdrop reminiscent of a MAGA hat.
- Snoop Dogg released a song titled "Make America Crip Again".
- Frank Turner released a song called "Make America Great Again" on his album Be More Kind (2018).
- Singer Joy Villa produced a single 'Make America Great Again' a few months after appearing at the 2017 Grammy Awards in a 'MAGA' dress.
- Rapper Lil Wayne wore a hat saying Make America Skate again in Chance the Rapper's video No Problem
- Hip Hop Producer Zaytoven released an album titled Make America Trap Again (2019), with cover art inspired by the Barack Obama "Hope" poster.
- WWE star Darren Young and former star Bob Backlund began appearing on WWE TV in May 2016, with Backlund acting as Young's life coach, promising to "Make Darren Young Great Again".
- Upon his return to Impact Wrestling (known as TNA during his first run with the company) in 2017, professional wrestling personality Dutch Mantell (known in WWE as Zeb Coulter, the manager of Jack Swagger in 2013) proclaimed he would help "Make Impact (Wrestling) Great Again".
- John Oliver spoofed the slogan in a segment of his show, urging viewers to "Make Donald Drumpf Again", in reference to the original name of Trump's ancestors. The segment broke HBO viewership records, garnering 85 million views.
- In NCIS: Los Angeles season 4, episode 20 ("Purity"), the group behind the attacks used the phrase "Make America Great Again" as part of their campaign.
- In the South Park episode "Where My Country Gone?" (2015), supporters of Mr. Garrison, who runs a campaign that is a parody of Trump's, are seen holding signs bearing the slogan.
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- "Holder to Trump: 'Exactly when did you think America was great?'". MSNBC. March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
Holder also discusses the Trump slogan of “Make America Great Again”, posing the question: “when did you think America was great?”.
- Norman, Greg (March 28, 2019). "Eric Holder goes on MAGA attack: 'Exactly when did you think America was great?'". Fox News. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
- "Macron: 'Make our planet great again'". BBC News. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Massola, James (October 20, 2018). "Prabowo wants to 'make Indonesia great again'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- "KD: Gör EU lagom igen" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. May 3, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
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- "Greta Thunberg tells Rome: They have stolen our future". Republica. April 19, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- "Make the World Greta Again". Internet Movide Database. May 24, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
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- de Moraes, Lisa (June 1, 2017). "'Sharknado 5' Gets Topical Title, Adds Cast & Vows To "Make America Bait Again"". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
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- Kevin Gates - M.A.T.A. Lyrics
- Holmes, Dave (May 31, 2017). "Five Things We Expect to See At the Make America Rock Again Tour". Esquire. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
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- Zaytoven - Make America Trap Again
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- Gray, Richard (May 4, 2016). "Bob Backlund To Make Darren Young Great Again (Smackdown Spoiler)". Wrestling News World. Gray Internet Technologies. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
The gimmick includes the obvious play on Donald Trump's campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again."
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