The Strange World of Campaign Merchandise: Who has the Best Swag?
Presidential campaigns don’t come cheap. While superPACs help funnel donations in the millions from the elite class, candidates prefer to brag about the amount of small donations they’ve received. But Americans are savvy consumers, and are rarely content to give away their money for nothing. This leads to perhaps the most niche market of all: Campaign Merchandise. Much like the booths at a Beyoncé concert, these online shops peddle fun tchotchkes emblazoned with the candidate’s name and face, at hyper-inflated prices.
Consider purchasing a faux-embroidered throw pillow from Hillary’s camp to give your home a dowdy yet socially-conscious touch. Perhaps you’d be more interested in a “Grillary Clinton Spatula” for a burger flip that’s sure to break the glass ceiling. No? Not even a “Chillary Clinton” drink koozie? You’re probably just not jumping on these offers because you can’t decide, so why not go for a Hillary Clinton Shop gift card and pick out your favorite later?
Hillary’s store is a perfect example of the general silliness of the campaign merchandise world, but there are select other examples that almost seem like parody. Jeb Bush, for example, has tried many methods to connect with Hispanic voters, but he may have found the clincher with his $75 “Guaca Bowle.” This item is included in the “Lifestyle” section of his shop, for the consumer who wants to better emulate the Jeb Bush lifestyle.
— lil minkus chellygal (@chelleygal2) September 24, 2015
Be sure to also check out his “Vintage Tank,” which shows a young John Ellis with “a sideburn-mustache combo that would make Burt Reynolds blush.”
— Independent US (@IndyUSA) February 1, 2016
The award for the most insane store might just be Dr. Rand Paul’s. His campaign is now suspended and his shop’s webpage now says “EVEN THE NSA COULDN’T FIND THAT PAGE.” But before he bowed out of the race, Paul had a “fun stuff” section in his shop, where you can buy a $1,000 autographed constitution, as well as a giant (meaning several feet large) birthday card, something called “Rand on a Stick,” an NSA spy cam blocker for your laptop, flip flops, and a “Don’t Drone Me Bro” t-shirt, cementing Rand Paul as the candidate most hip to the ways of the youth. I would link to these, but these soon-to-be-collectibles may need to be hunted down on eBay now that they’re truly “limited edition.”
As for Bernie Sanders, his store is one of the most reserved, filled mostly with cups and shirts with “Bernie” and “Feel the Bern.” The only stand-out product is a “Babies for Bernie” bib, which proves yet again that Bernie polls well with the under-20 crowd.
Ted Cruz rounds out the list with a terrifying image: a photoshopped poster of him shirtless and tattooed:
So peruse the options available to you, and pick your favorite candidates’ merch. Plaster their name on your wall, across your forehead, or on your chest, for a “made-in-America” exorbitant cost.