Perspective: The best gifts for the Donald Trump supporter on your Christmas list
It remains to be seen whether the former president has enough support to work in the Oval Office again. But there’s enough support to sell plenty of merch
While a majority of Americans do not want Donald Trump to run for president again, support among the former president’s base remains strong.
“His numbers don’t move. They’re locked in,” Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told PBS in September. “The good thing for former President Trump is his numbers don’t drop. The bad thing is he’s only talking about a third of the electorate who are in his corner.”
That may not translate into electoral success, but those numbers are great for purveyors of Trump merch.
Since 2019, when I first noticed a Trump pop-up shop by the side of the road in blue Massachusetts, the proliferation of Trump merchandise — and Trump-adjacent merchandise like “Let’s Go, Brandon!” — has not noticeably declined, even as the former president’s legal troubles continue to mount.
In fact, the Trump merch phenomenon seems to have inspired other politicians to try to cash in. Hillary Clinton, for example, sells “But her emails” shirts, hats, pins and coffee mugs with proceeds going to her political action committee. To date, however, there has been no known sighting of a Hillary Clinton pop-up shop in the wild, or one for any other political candidate, for that matter. That kind of enthusiasm seems unique to Trump.
Meanwhile, the merchandise available for Donald Trump fans keeps getting more, well, interesting. There is, for example, a cookie cutter in the shape of Trump’s silhouette currently for sale on Etsy, as well as “Let’s Go Brandon!” cookie cutters and a Trump rolling pin for those who can’t resist infusing politics into their holiday baking.
Also on Etsy, there are “Make America’s Hair Great Again” combs (a bestseller), Trump candles and car coasters, a Trump garden gnome, a Trump cake mold and a “Merry Trumpmas” garden flag with a Trumpesque snowman exhorting passers-by to make Christmas great again.
To decorate your home and tree, there’s a Trump/MAGA nutcracker ornament, and an array of merchandise with the numbers 45 and 47. (Trump was the 45th president, and his supporters hope he will be 47th, too.) To wrap it all up, there’s Trump/Brandon holiday wrapping paper.
It should be noted that the sellers of Trump merchandise aren’t always Trump supporters; in fact, some don’t even seem to be in line with conservative values. The Idaho-based Etsy shop that sells the “Merry Trumpmas” flag also sells a flag that says “Pagans are the reason for the season,” a nod to the solstice celebrations that influenced some Christmas customs.
And there are plenty of gift options for people who hate Trump, too, like a door mat with an image of Trump that says “Wipe your feet here.”
Many people have wondered why Trump announced his 2024 candidacy when he did. Writing for National Review, Jim Geraghty observed, “The Trump presidential campaign could have waited until after the Georgia runoff, or Christmas, or New Year’s. In fact, a previous president could have waited until well into 2023. Last night’s announcement suggested the candidate was impatient, bored, hungered for the spotlight again, and was seething with jealousy over the man he derided as ‘DeSanctimonious.’”
I don’t know; maybe it had something to do with getting ahead of the Christmas shopping season? After all, Trump sells his own merch too, to include milk chocolate bars wrapped in gold foil and Trump-branded salted peanuts, dog gear and cheese paddles.
There is also a $95 Mar-a-Lago ornament for your Christmas tree, bewilderingly “handmade in Europe.” (Where are American artisans when you need them?) And a kitchen towel featuring an otherwise traditional Christmas nutcracker wearing a MAGA hat and carrying a Trump football.
This is not to suggest, as some cynical observers have, that everything Trump does is motivated by money, even though his bestselling book was “The Art of the Deal.” Rather, he knows the value of a brand, and of brand loyalty.
Donald Trump may be a punching bag for cultural elites but he still matters to millions of Americans whose defiance to those elites is expressed in every purchase of Trump merch. A Newsweek story recently detailed “All the signs Trump’s hold on the GOP is waning,” citing surprising GOP losses in the midterms. But it’s too soon to count him out, and it’s smart for political analysts to keep an eye on Etsy. As merch goes, so goes the nation.
And Ron DeSantis shirts (“DeSantis Airlines — Bringing the Border to You”) seem to be selling well, too.