Hold on to your butts, it’s the Democratic primary race. As celebrities and millennials line up to back Bernie Sanders; and all the women who say things quietly at meetings only to have their idea stolen and restated by some guy named Brad (who is then promoted above them) endorse Elizabeth Warren, former NYC mayor and current fatcat Mike Bloomberg’s merch team is trying to rally his generally tepid-but-desperate voting base around a new idea: Not a Socialist. I mean, god fucking forbid, right?
The “Not a Socialist” cap was offered up for pre-order this week, and has already sold out, according to the Bloomberg2020 campaign shop. GQ’s style section released a scathing review of the hat (priced at $17.76), critiquing everything from its politics to its aesthetics, and likely driving its sales as the new must-have irony wear of the season. I’m calling it right now: the “Not a Socialist” cap will be this year’s Amazon coat. The hat was announced on Wednesday, in a tweet that has been subsequently deleted, leaving only a meme trail of Bloomberg haters and their trenchant political takes on the hat in its wake.
The campaign references a 2019 Pew Research Center study indicating that a much larger share of Americans have a positive impression of capitalism (65%) than socialism (42%) — although a closer look at the partisan divide shows that Democrats have a more generally positive view of socialism than Republicans. Not included in the study is the question of whether most Americans have even a basic understanding of what socialism is. On the one hand, you have a younger voting base for whom socialism means “pro-social government assistance programs.” By that definition, we already live in a system of limited socialism, with public schools, roads, utilities, and healthcare — evils that Republicans seem determined to dismantle, despite their power being built on historical wealth based on government land deeds and other handouts. For aging voters, socialism is something they associate with the Communism, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union — and regimes that, in fairness, took a terrible toll on their populations in the name of social welfare that never quite seemed to redistribute the wealth according to plan.
On the bright side, negative messaging is generally a terrible approach to a campaign. Bloomberg is essentially gambling on a huge financial investment and the backing of people so (rightly) terrified by the prospect of a second Trump campaign that they will (wrongly) back his alter-ego, because that’s still easier than getting off the couch and doing ANYTHING to rally voters of good conscience to meaningfully oppose the malignant forces controlling our political machine. Also, having a campaign message that explicitly targets Sanders reinforces his status as the frontrunner, essentially throwing campaign finances into a gambit that concedes the ground already lost.
Do Democrats believe that no one should own anything? In most cases, probably not. That doesn’t mean that the voting base — especially those among it that will actually live long enough to face the consequences of the current election cycle — are interested in backing a grossly sexist, racist, out-of-touch businessman who will continue the fire sale on public support programs and give free reign to capitalist ravaging of our dwindling natural resources … wouldn’t we just stick with the one we already have, and stop shouting at each other on Twitter?
But the main point here is marketing, and since the “Not a Socialist” hat has already sold out, I’d like to humbly throw out some ideas for new merch to follow this groundswell of GOD-I-HOPE ironic uptake on the Bloomberg message:
Mike Bloomberg: Not a Democrat
Mike Bloomberg: Not a Fan of POC // It’s Frisky Business!
Mike Bloomberg: NOT A GOOD IDEA GUYS THIS IS SUCH A BAD IDEA
Bloomberg campaign can use any of those for a reasonable copywriting fee — CAPITALISM FOREVER, XOXO!