Make America Great Again

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President Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign poster
A button from Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign
Trump's MAGA sign used during his 2016 presidential campaign

"Make America Great Again", often abbreviated as MAGA or #MAGA, is a campaign slogan used in American politics that originated with the President Ronald Reagan 1980 presidential campaign. President Donald Trump subsequently applied, which he then used in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Original uses[edit | edit source]

It 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.[1][2][3][4] 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.[5] The slogan was also used by former President Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign, although he later criticized the phrase as being a racist dog whistle during the 2016 election.[6][7]

2016 Trump campaign[edit | edit source]

Donald Trump wearing a Make America Great Again hat during his 2016 campaign.

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". At the time it was not used as a slogan.[8]

Trump began using the slogan formally on November 7, 2012, the day after Barack Obama won his reelection against Mitt Romney. He first considered "We Will Make America Great", but did not feel like it had the right "ring" to it.[9] "Make America Great" was his next inflection, but upon further reflection, 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".)[9] 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.[10][9][11]

Banner displaying "Vote To Make America Great Again" on a roadside in California shortly after the November 2016 election.

During the campaign, Trump often used the slogan, especially by wearing hats emblazoned with the phrase in white letters.[12] The slogan was so important to the campaign that 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.[9] Following Trump's election, the website of his presidential transition was established at[13] The president stated in January 2017 that the slogan of his 2020 reelection campaign would be "Keep America Great!", immediately ordering a lawyer to trademark it.[9]

Use by others[edit | edit source]

In politics[edit | edit source]

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".[9] Cruz later sold hats featuring, "Make Trump Debate Again", in response to Trump's boycotting the Iowa January 28, 2016 debate.[14]

In art, entertainment, and media[edit | edit source]

The most widespread use of the phrase and its variants were in media, especially television comedies. For example:

  • The slogan was also modified for use in commercial contexts such as film posters and advertisements. The tagline for the film, The Purge: Election Year, was "Keep America Great" (also the slogan for Trump's aforementioned reelection campaign), included on posters and faux election promos.[22]
  • In September 2016, The Berrics released the campaign series, "Make EA Skate Again", urging Electronic Arts to develop Skate 4.[23][24]
  • The General Mills campaign, "Smugglaroos", which encourages Canadians to bring Dunk-a-roos to America, where the product has been discontinued, has the slogan "Make America Dunk Again".[25]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Ronald Reagan’s Classic 1980 Campaign Poster Challenges Voters, “Let’s Make America Great Again”". Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  2. Matt Taibbi (March 25, 2015). "Donald Trump Claims Authorship of Legendary Reagan Slogan; Has Never Heard of Google". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  3. "Trump: The Last Time America Was Great Was During the Reagan Administration [VIDEO]". Daily Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  4. "Presidential Politics, 20th Century Style: Reagan-Carter". Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  5. "Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Campaign Poster, “Let’s Make America Great Again”". I Agree to See. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  6. Chasmar, Jessica (September 9, 2016). "Bill Clinton vowed to 'make America great again' in 1992, now says slogan is racist". Washington Times. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  7. Margolin, Emma (September 9, 2016). "Who really first came up with the phrase 'Make America Great Again'?". NBC. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Tumulty, Karen (January 18, 2017). "How Donald Trump came up with 'Make America Great Again'". The Washington Post. 
  10. "U.S. Service Mark 4,773,272". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved November 18, 2016. 
  11. "USPTO TSDR Case Viewer". Retrieved January 27, 2017. 
  12. "Why Donald Trump has given up on the hat". The Washington Post. January 25, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  13. Smith, Allan (November 10, 2016). "'Great again': Donald Trump's .gov website is now live". Business Insider. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  14. Bradford Richardson (January 27, 2016). "Cruz sells 'Make Trump Debate Again' hats". The Hill. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  15. "'South Park' Depicts the Brutal Rape of Donald Trump". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  16. Koblin, John (March 8, 2016). "John Oliver Sells Out of 'Make Donald Drumpf Again' Caps". The New York Times. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Zorthian, Julia (March 31, 2016). "John Oliver's 'Donald Drumpf' Segment Broke HBO Viewing Records". TIME. 
  18. "Fall Out Boy Shares Disney 'Jungle Book' Cover, Plots Rapper-Filled Remix Album". Billboard. October 23, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  19. Snierson, Dan (January 5, 2016). "David Cross announces 'Making America Great Again!' nationwide stand-up tour". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2016. 
  20. Andre Vergara (May 6, 2016). "Bob Backlund returns to WWE to 'make Darren Young great again'". Retrieved May 13, 2016. 
  21. 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." 
  22. Chichizola, Corey (February 26, 2016). "The Purge: Election Year Wants You To Purge For America". CinemaBlend. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  23. Walker, Alex (September 14, 2016). "Skaters Are Pushing EA Really Hard To Make Skate 4". kokatu. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  24. Santos, Jerome Delos (September 15, 2016). "Skate 4: 'Make EA Skate Again' Ushers New Campaign". Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  25. Krashinsky, Susan (October 26, 2016). "General Mills hopes to hit sweet spot with new 'Smugglaroos' campaign". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 6, 2016. 

External links[edit | edit source]