“Keep America Great,” “Fight,” “Bernie,” “Rebuild America.” U.S. presidential candidates all have different slogans. But Democrats agree on one: “Impeach.”

Protest in New York

(All photos by Enrique Shore)

By Enrique Shore

People, politicians and advertisers like short, powerful slogans.

Take Donald Trump’s message in his successful 2016 campaign for the U.S. presidency: “Make America Great Again.”

Former President Ronald Reagan used a similar rallying cry — “Let’s make America great again” — in his 1980 campaign. But Reagan never trademarked his pitch, as Trump did in 2015 when he filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to secure exclusive rights to use the “MAGA” slogan for political purposes.

Donald Trump with a “MAGA” sign during the 2016 Presidential election

Trump’s supporters wasted no time adopting “MAGA” signs.

<center><em>Trump supporters in New York in 2016</em></center>
Trump supporters in New York in 2016
<center><em>Trump supporters in New York in 2016</em></center>
Trump supporters in New York in 2016

Riled up, Trump’s opponents promptly responded with their own slogans. They launched variations on the MAGA theme, including references to Russian President Vladimir Putin and admonitions for love over hate and in favor of diversity and immigration.

<center><em>Political satire</em></center>
Political satire
Protest in Washington, D.C.
Protest in New York

After nearly three years in office and with his eye on his re-election campaign, Trump can hardly stick with a well-worn slogan, and so he has registered “Keep America Great” for his 2020 campaign. His supporters have quickly picked up the fresh but familiar theme.

Trump supporters campaign for his re-election in New York.

The slogans chosen by Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, did not catch on with her supporters in the same way as Trump’s did with his fans, perhaps because neither “Hillary for America” nor “Fighting for us” distanced the Democratic candidate adequately from her connections to the political establishment.

<center><em>Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton during the 2016 campaign</em></center>
Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton during the 2016 campaign

Another 2016 candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, had a ceremonious slogan — “A future to believe in” — that was quickly overtaken by the more spontaneous “Feel the Bern.” This time around, Sanders has opted for a simple “Bernie,” underscoring voters’ familiarity with his ideas, whether or not they agree with the left-wing candidate.

<center><em>Bernie Sanders during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign</em></center>
Bernie Sanders during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign
Bernie Sanders launches 2020 campaign in Brooklyn.

Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also uses her name in her advertising. But she’s partial to slogans with the word “fight.” Two books by her — “A Fighting Chance” and “This Fight Is Our Fight” — have the word in the title, and she is asking supporters to text “FIGHT” during her campaign rallies.

Elizabeth Warren campaigns in New York.

The latest Democratic candidate to join the presidential race is former New York mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, whose slogan is “Rebuild America” — a call for change and for getting things done.

Perhaps the most powerful slogan in U.S. politics at the moment relates to a congressional investigation threatening Trump’s presidency. Signs reading “Impeach” have been present at anti-Trump rallies since he took office, but they are becoming more frequent as Democratic lawmakers’ press ahead with possible impeachment.

<center><em>Women's March in 2016</em></center>
Women’s March in 2016
Protest in New York in 2019

One night in October, shortly after the House of Representatives launched its formal impeachment process, I was outside Trump Tower in Manhattan when a truck passed slowly by.

Its message was loud and clear.

A truck parked outside of Trump Tower in New York, 16 October 2019

(For more photos by Enrique Shore (@enrique_shore), click here.) 

  1. Can you think of slogans used by advertisers that have caught your attention?
  2. If you were running for U.S. president, what slogan would you use?
  3. Why do you think “Make American Great Again” resonates so much in U.S. politics?

Enrique Shore is a News-Decoder correspondent, photographer and pictures editor with three decades experience covering World Cups, Olympics, presidential elections, summits and the first Gulf War. He was Reuters chief photographer for Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, then based in Madrid in charge of the Iberian peninsula. He later looked after media clients in Spain and Portugal. He is currently an independent photographer, editor and consultant based in New York.

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