Make America Great Again
"Make America Great Again" or MAGA (//)[a] is a campaign slogan used in American politics popularized by Donald Trump in his successful 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 used it again in a radio commercial aired for his wife Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 2008 presidential primary campaign. Douglas Schoen has called Trump's use of the phrase "probably the most resonant campaign slogan in recent history", citing majorities of Americans who believed that the country was in decline.
The slogan became a pop culture phenomenon, seeing widespread use and spawning numerous variants in the arts, entertainment and politics, being used by those who support and oppose the presidency of Donald Trump.
Since its popularization in the 2010s, the slogan is considered a loaded phrase. Multiple analytic journalists, scholars, and commentators link it to racism in the United States, regarding it as dog-whistle politics and coded language. The slogan was also at the center of two events originally reported inaccurately in most media outlets, the alleged assault of Jussie Smollett and the January 2019 Lincoln Memorial confrontation.
Use before Trump
Use by Alexander Wiley
The phrase was first used by Republican senator Alexander Wiley in a speech at the third session of the 76th United States Congress in anticipation of the 1940 United States presidential election: "What is the way? Here is America. There are 130,000,000 of us. America needs a leader who can coordinate labor, capital, and management; who can give the man of enterprise encouragement, who can give them the spirit which will beget vision. That will make America great again."
Use by Barry Goldwater
Use by Ronald Reagan
"Let's make America great again" was famously used in Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. At the time the United States was suffering from a worsening economy at home marked by stagflation and Reagan, using the country's economic distress as a springboard for his campaign, used the slogan to stir a sense of patriotism among the electorate. Within his acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention, Reagan said, "For those without job opportunities, we'll stimulate new opportunities, particularly in the inner cities where they live. For those who've abandoned hope, we'll restore hope and we'll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again."
Use by Bill Clinton
The phrase was also used in speeches by Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential 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
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 was changed to "Make America Great Again!"
On January 1, 2012, a group of Trump supporters filed paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State's office to create the "Make America Great Again Party", which would have allowed Trump to be that party's nominee if he had decided to become a third-party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. 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 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. Trump used the slogan in public as early as August 2013, in an interview with Jonathan Karl.
During the 2016 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. Millions were sold, and Trump estimated that counterfeit versions outnumbered the real hat ten to one. "... but it was a slogan, and every time somebody buys one, that's an advertisement."
Following Trump's election, the website of his presidential transition was established at greatagain.gov. Trump said in 2017 and 2018 that the slogan of his 2020 reelection campaign would be "Keep America Great" and he sought to trademark it. However, Trump's 2020 campaign continued to use the "Make America Great Again" slogan. Trump's vice president Mike Pence, when campaigning in 2020, used the phrase "make America great again, again" in his 2020 Republican National Convention speech, garnering ridicule.
Less than a week after Trump left office, he spoke to advisors about possibly establishing a third party, which he suggested might be named either the "Patriot Party" or "Make America Great Again Party". In his first few days out of office, he also supported Arizona state party chairwoman Kelli Ward, who likewise called for the creation of a "MAGA Party". In late January 2021, the former president viewed the proposed MAGA Party as leverage to prevent Republican senators from voting to convict him during the Senate impeachment trial, and to field challengers to Republicans who voted for his impeachment in the House.
Donald Trump took the campaign slogan to social media (primarily to Twitter), using the hashtags #makeamericagreatagain and its acronym #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.
In the first half of 2017, 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.
Accusations of racism
Regarding its use since 2015, it is considered a loaded phrase. Marissa Melton, a Voice of America journalist, among others, explained how it is a loaded phrase because it "doesn't just appeal to people who hear it as racist coded language, but also to those who have felt a loss of status as other groups have become more empowered." As Sarah Churchwell explains, the slogan now resonates as America First did in the early 1940s, with the idea "that the true version of America is the America that looks like me, the American fantasy I imagine existed before it was diluted with other races and other people."
Writing opinion for the Los Angeles Times, Robin Abcarian wrote that "[w]earing a 'Make America Great Again' hat is not necessarily an overt expression of racism. But if you wear one, it's a pretty good indication that you share, admire or appreciate President Trump's racist views about Mexicans, Muslims and border walls." The Detroit Free Press and the Los Angeles Times reported how several of their readers rejected this characterization and did not believe the slogan or MAGA hats are evidence of racism, seeing them more in patriotic or American nationalist terms. Polling has shown that about ten percent of black voters identified as Trump supporters, while about thirty percent of Hispanic voters identified as Trump supporters. Nicholas Goldberg described the slogan as "fabulous", writing: "It was vague enough to appeal to optimists generally, while leaving plenty of room for bitter and resentful voters to conclude that we were finally going back to the days when they ran the world."
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 were widely used in reference both to his election campaign and to 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. Cruz later sold hats featuring, "Make Trump Debate Again", in response to Trump's boycotting the Iowa January 28, 2016 debate.
Use by political rivals
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said 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?" During John McCain's memorial service on September 1, 2018, his daughter Meghan stated: "The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great." Trump subsequently tweeted "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" later that day.
Use by hate groups
A 2018 study using text mining and semantic network analytics of Twitter text and hashtags networks found that the "#MakeAmericaGreatAgain" and "#MAGA" hashtags were commonly used by white supremacist and white nationalist users, and had been used as "an organizing discursive space" for far-right extremists globally.
During his campaign for the 2019 Indonesian presidential election in October 2018, 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 activist Greta Thunberg. In 2019, Grant Armour and Milene Larsson co-directed a documentary film named Make the World Greta Again.
In addition, the idea of a Golden Age is present in many cultures around the world. Golden Ages, however, tend to be from the distant past rather than from the 20th century.
In popular culture
The phrase and its variants are widely used and parodied in media.
- Adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with President Trump, took part in a "Make America Horny Again" strip club tour. The tour followed Trump's initial 2016 campaign trail and part of the revenue was donated to Planned Parenthood.
- Make Everything Great Again is a street art mural by artist Mindaugas Bonanu in Vilnius, Lithuania.
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.
- Fashion Designer Andre Soriano used the "Make America Great Again" Official presidential campaign Flag to design a MAGA Gown for celebrities in Hollywood to wear on Red Carpet e.g. 2017 Grammy Awards.
- In Holmes & Watson (2018), Sherlock Holmes wears a "Make England Great Again" fez 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" (a phrase Trump would later use as his 2020 campaign slogan); 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 character Paul in Da 5 Bloods is an avid Trump supporter and sports a MAGA hat throughout the film.
- In Assassin's Creed Odyssey (2018), Cleon says "Make Athens Great Again" during his campaign against Pericles.
- In the video game Mortal Kombat 11 (2019), Shao Kahn urges Mortal Kombat 11 newcomer Kollector to "make Outworld great again".
- The video game Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (2017) used "Make America Nazi-Free Again" in its marketing campaign.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013), Senator Steven Armstrong uses the phrase "Make America Great Again" during his speech while battling Raiden.
- 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.
- UK musician and author James Kennedy released a rock protest album in 2020 called 'Make ANGER Great Again'
- 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.
- Russian activists and artists Pussy Riot released a song titled Make America Great Again.
- Metal band Thy Art Is Murder released a song called "Make America Hate Again" on their album Human Target (2019). They also sell a hat with the slogan "Make Deathcore Great Again".
Books and Publications
- Author Octavia E. Butler used "Make America Great Again" as the presidential campaign slogan for a character, Andrew Steele Jarret, in her 1998 dystopian novel, Parable of the Talents. Jarret is described as "a demogogue, a rabble-rouser, and a hypocrite [who] pulled religion and government together and cemented the link with money from rich businessmen".
- Author Andre Louis wrote and published "Make America Date Again", a satirical book on dating and relationships.
- John Oliver spoofed the slogan on his show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in a segment dedicated to Trump, urging viewers to "Make Donald Drumpf Again", in reference to the original ancestral name of the Trump family. The segment broke HBO viewership records, garnering 85 million views.
- 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.
- In the Star Trek: Discovery episode "What's Past Is Prologue" (2018), Gabriel Lorca vows to "make the Empire glorious again", a line that was compared to Trump by many reviewers.
- Pronunciation used by Trump.
- The Telegraph (May 30, 2020). Donald Trump: 'MAGA loves the black people' responding to race protests (YouTube video). Event occurs at 0:00.
- Schoen, Douglas (April 8, 2016). "Donald Trump saw what politicians ignored. And then he disrupted American politics". Fox News. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
- Edwards-Levy, Ariel (November 18, 2015). "Americans Aren't Sure Anything In America Works Anymore". Huff Post. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Melton, Marissa (August 31, 2017). "Is 'Make America Great Again' Racist?". Voice of America. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
- Shamus, Kristen Jordan (January 24, 2019). "MAGA hats: Trump campaign swag or symbols of hate?". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
- Abcarian, Robin (February 5, 2019). "MAGA hats and blackface are different forms of expression, but they share a certain unfortunate DNA". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
- Rebecca Solnit (2018). Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays). Haymarket Books.
Trump's slogan, 'Make America great again', seemed to invoke a return to a Never Never Land of white male supremacy, where coal was an awesome fuel, blue-color manufacturing jobs were what they had been in 1956, women belong in the home, and the needs of white men were paramount.
- Jennings, Scott. "No. Trump hasn't unleashed an army of racist, MAGA hat monsters". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
- Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 76th Congress Third Session Volume 86 Part 11, p.12393.
- "Goldwater Yes! [advertisement]". Lake Sentinel. Orlando, FL. August 2, 1964. p. 3.
He will be elected by local people who want to regain their lost freedoms and make America great again
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- "Make America Great Again a Retrospective". Retrieved July 21, 2017.
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- Alex Seitz-Wald (March 11, 2018). "'Keep America Great': After year in office, Trump unveils 2020 campaign slogan". NBC News.
- Kumar, Anita (May 20, 2020). "Trump tries on MAGA 2.0 for a pandemic era". Politico. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
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- Shamus, Kristen Jordan. "Readers speak out on the divide over MAGA hats". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
- "Readers React: Media disdain for MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters has to stop". Los Angeles Times. January 24, 2019. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
- Goldberg, Nicholas (May 14, 2020). "Column: Trump has come up with the worst campaign slogan ever". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
- The good fight : why liberals – and only liberals – can win the War on Terror and make America great again (1st ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. May 30, 2006. ISBN 9780060841614.
- "Christine O'Donnell promotes memoir". Politico. June 21, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
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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.
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- "Macron: 'Make our planet great again'". BBC News. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
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- "KD: Gör EU lagom igen" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. May 3, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
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- "'Star Trek: Discovery' recap: The Terran story line comes to a head". EW.com.
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