For Your Interest: Election Merchandise. Selling Messages. Buying Ideals.

Image: BLM Wilton Blacke. GOP: CP. Mask: CC. Kennedy/Johnson: U.S. Democratic Party.

This is a tense moment in America and American politics, and 
so many reasons, the upcoming U.S. presidential elections are a
(very) big deal.
Every day leading up to voting day, the country has seemed to
become less united and more divided. 

Feelings about the president and the direction of the country
been strong since the moment he was elected in 2016.
They have
only grown stronger and more intense over the past
1400 days.
*What was already a messy political and social climate has been
made even messier with the presence and fallout 
over 2020’s
uninvited guest…COVID-19. 

All bets are off in Election 2020.

Now is a good time to look at the election merchandise Democrats,
Republicans and others are selling to boost their messages, capture
voters’ hearts and minds and raise money 
before General Voting Day
on November 3rd.

Election merchandise is a triple threat. It’s an all-in-one branding
marketing tool and revenue generator. You get to label
yourself…or the other guy, put out a call for votes
and generate
cash, all in one item.
In 2020, with major campaign rallies and
events down to almost nil
(#coronavirus), internet sales will
certainly also be used as internal
vote trackers and for online

First, a few things to know about election merchandise
U.S. elections in general:

#Facts: The reality is most voters are moderate, not hard-edged

The algebra for true money-spinning and vote-getting merchandise
is straightforward. X = candidate + broad, catchy message + high
volume portable

It takes a village and money to get elected. Elections and election
merchandise at this level are big business and not for amateurs. In
2016, outsider Bernie Sanders sold $15 million* dollars worth of
merchandise and Barack Obama pulled in $40 million* dollars from
sales in one year. (2012). Behind the scenes, both parties have
skilled Merchandise Directors
and large professional teams running
the show.
(source CNBC)*

By the numbers: Money spent in U.S. elections:
Total spent in 2019 election cycle: $5 Billion USD.
2016: D.Trump $450 million. H. Clinton: $770 million.
(Source: Centre for Responsive Politics. Money Magazine)

You can thank the generals for creating and developing election merchandise.
At George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, guests were sold small brass
buttons engraved with Long Live The President 
and GW to  mark the event.
It was Union Major General William Henry Harrison who turned election
merchandise into a business. For his Log Cabin 
presidential campaign in
1840, voters were sold buttons, 
brooches, china, oil lamps, handkerchiefs
and barrels of
hard cider.

Cable news, the print media and news networks are not innocent
Fox News, NBC, ABC and all the other U.S. news outlets have a huge
financial interest in elections,
and media bias is an open question
The events the press cover and the stories they write have a major
 in shaping the national agenda. This has a direct impact
on election merchandise.

The best-selling category of election items are everyday personal use
items like T-shirts, cups, hats, water bottles, pins and shopping bags.
They are functional, portable and have high one-on-one visibility.
Display items like flags, yard signs and posters are eye-catching but
have limited day-to-day use and are mostly site specific.
Dolls, chairs and other novelty pieces are niche objects that appeal
mainly to collectors and diehard party followers. Nobody wants to be
left with a warehouse full of funky, unsold
goods that have last month’s
trendy slogan.

In the Federal Election Commission (FEC) rule book, election merchandise
counts as a “campaign contribution. “
Individual small donor contributions
(hard money) cannot exceed 
$200 USD. This is the official, unofficial
ceiling for merchandise prices.
Out on the campaign trail, volunteers
normally receive donations i
n $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30 and $35 amounts.
merchandise is priced at exactly that amount.

Official, party approved election products are just the tip of the iceberg
when it comes to political merchandise.
The vast majority of election
goods are made and sold by loosely
connected Super PACs, grassroots
groups, independent bodies
and make-a-fast-buck hustlers. This is an
open zone where anyone with a pile of blank T-shirts a
nd a screen
printing machine can join in. These are the items 
you see in the news
which sport angry, loony or twisted 

The Independents.

2020 Campaign Slogan: Make America F*cking Awesome Again.
Election theme: Awareness.                                                               

Porn star Cherie Deville is an independent progressive candidate who
is running for president. Rapper Coolio is her running mate.
It might seem like a joke, but the FA 2020 platform has seven planks,
including marijuana and immigration reform, which kind of make sense. 

So far, she has no election items for sale.*.
*(all items are subject to change)

Kanye West
2020 Campaign Slogan: YES! #2020VISION.
Election theme: Politics through faith and the Bible.                       

Kanye West announced his run for president on Twitter.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected his bid, but he is officially on the
ballot in 12 states. His 10 party platform “commandments” 
God and politics. He has a grand total of seven election 
items for
sale on kanye2020 country.
This is election merchandise as…pricey capsule collection.
$200 USD buys you a purple hoodie and hat bundle. A black Vote
Kanye cotton sweatshirt sells for $100 and the God Save America
T-shirt is $40.
*(all items are subject to change)

The Democrats.
Election theme: Voter friendly, “inclusive,” attack-mode lite.

If you are expecting to find a truckload of items on the official
Democratic Party website touching on hot-button election issues
like women’s rights and gun control, you are in for a surprise. 

What you will find is an easygoing product mix of 35 items 
pins, buttons, sweatshirts and infant onesies printed with 
the classic
Democratic donkey logo and positive messaging 
around voting and
There are no extreme pro-Biden/Harris wares, and the
only pieces
which hint at current events are two cleverly placed blue
and dark 
blue face masks.
*(all items are subject to change)

2020 Campaign Slogan: Battle For The Soul of The Nation.

It’s obvious where the Democrats want supporters to spend their
money and tap into any one-sided feelings in 2020…
on the
official Joe Biden store website. 
The site is paid for and run by the Biden For Victory fund. On
offer is a cross-section of liberal-friendly goods promoting the 2020
Biden/Harris ticket.*
The Joe Biden app is a free download, and
you can choose anything 
from sweatshirts and hoodies to socks and
hand sanitizer.
The newest additions to the e-store are a set of I Paid
More Taxes
Than Trump T-shirts and badges, a fly swatter and a first
generated wearable which sold out immediately.
Smartly, the selection also features some solo Kamala Harris
plus clothing pieces which call-out to the Latin community.
*(all items are subject to change)

The Republicans.
Election theme: Somewhere between pro-America and in-your-face.

Two of the featured products on the main Republican site
 are a sticker which reads Liberal Free
Zone and a yard sign with the 
message Don’t Be A Dumb Donkey.
Along with T-shirts and stickers printed with the Trump/Pence ticket,
party members and supporters can buy: a $69 blue, white and red
crystal brooch, lapel buttons clowning Hillary Clinton as a Village
Still Deplorable, Still Voting For Trump yard signs and stickers,
Border Control tees.* The Attic is a Conservative’s walk down
memory lane featuring Bush
era pins, 2012 campaign hats and
*(all items are subject to change)

2020 Campaign Slogan: Keep America Great.

Four years ago, the best-selling election merchandise item was a red
hat with four words.
Between 2016 and 2018, the same hat raised
$20 million* for 
Donald Trump. It’s no accident that this year there are
four full pages of hats for sale 
at in every
shade and pattern. 

Masks have recently been added to the site. They are called “face
The store product mix is divided into 2020 apparel, hats,
and gifts. Five pages of available T-shirts & hoodies are
photographed on a mix of
black and white models and the printed
slogans are straight
from a campaign strategy wish list. Everything
from Defend The 
Police to Black Voices For Trump and Asian Pacific
Americans for 
Trump is included and ready to ship.*
The gifts section is a text book clinic in store merchandising: playing
cards, dog collars and leashes, hard hats, puzzles, limited edition
posters, cups, glasses, straws, wooden kids toys and $30 MAGA
DAD whiskey and wine glasses are featured for sale over five pages.
(source: CNBC)*
*(all items are subject to change)

America Wants You.

By far, the biggest message before the election and on merchandise
2020 is for citizens to just get out there and “vote.
Weeks before the election, 22+ million people aren’t taking any
and have already voted.  
This is an election for the ages and Americans from all walks of life
sense the moment. Adidas, the NBA, activists, brands, retail chains,
artists, mom & pop 
groups, sports franchises, designers and many
others have donated 
resources and time in national sign up and
register drives from coast t
o coast.
The normal half-hearted athlete and celebrity appeals have been
swept off the table.
This time around, it’s a full court TV, social media and internet press.
Chris Rock, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman and friends have banded
together on a “naked“ Public Service Announcement,

and every tabloid, reality television and social media 
butterfly you can
name has taken a selfie sporting vote merch and 
posted it online.

Fashion designers are one group that have taken the “vote” message
to heart and crafted every type and style of item to suit 
every budget
and taste.

Gold Voter earrings, check. $475. Red, blue and white friendship
bracelets, check. $65. Cashmere sweaters, check. $850. Vegan
check. $15.*
It’s a sweeping selection which also carries the feel-good vibe of
rerouting some or all of the profits back into social causes.
*(all items are subject to change)

We The People.
Election theme: Chaos = Opportunity.

Elsewhere, you can take your pick from an ocean of bootleg and
unauthorized election merchandise, no matter how mild or extreme
your politics may be.
There’s something for anyone with a credit card and a bone to pick.

Cafe Press is
just one of hundreds of websites peddling “anything goes” election
themed merchandise. The items are your standard wallet-friendly
election fare items: $10 – $15
magnets and stickers, $16 coffee mugs,
$30 – $40 T-shirts.
The messages and slogans are anything but standard. Make America
Smart Again pins sit next to We Shall Over Comb mugs.
Crazy Town
USA yard signs can be found on the same page as
Greedy Old Pricks
mugs and stickers, and Impeach Putin’s Puppet decals 
are one product
line up from Defend The Police signs.
It’s a funny, sad, glad, mad rabbit hole of pins, towels, magnets, posters,
and hats which goes on for 100+ pages and presents an endless
roll call of facts, feelings, opinions and lies that are a 
window into the
politics and soul of a nation.

Whoever wins, on the day after the election, they will still be The Divided
States Of America.

The election for President of the United States is on Tuesday Nov 3, 2020.
There are 35 races for the U.S. Senate and 435 for Congress.

Copyright (C) 2020. RaphaelClarence/La Source Online. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credits: Ike pin, Mpls55408. Bernie bag, Obama t-shirt, Monde Perso. G.Washington pin, National Museum of American History. W. Harrison oil lamp, National Museum of American History. A Cortez poster, shop M. Rubio t-shirt, K.West sweatshirt, Kanye Country2020. DNP donkey, Donkey Hotey. Biden, Harris t-shirt, Joe RNP logo, C art. Trump, Pence mug, Fashion badges, Fashion Our Future 2020. Pyer Moss t-shirt, Pyer Moss. G.Washington tote, Tee Public. Pin, uncredited. Poster, Jeff Gates. Sticker, C Press.
Cruz poster,