Apr 29th, 2009
One man’s homeboy…
…is another man’s comrade.
The Obama administration’s 100th day in office has hit, and while 14 weeks + 2 days might seem like an arbitrary time to review the President, hey: this is America. We like round numbers. And we like ratings and reviews and grades and polls, too.
On our end, we like using products as our own cultural barometer. Since all the merchandise in our system is user-created, and since we have a couple hundred million things for sale, it means that we get a pretty good idea of the zeitgeist using the mighty T-shirt as our guide.
The polls will tell you that Obama has about a 2/3 approval rating, and the merchandise tells us roughly the same thing. America is still largely in favor of the new President – from superhero to homeboy, T-shirt designers have made their voices heard through 3.7 million Obama T-shirts and other products.
But the critics are vocal, too: almost a million products showcase colorful dissent, with the socialism/communism theme being a trend. As for specific policy, censure of the stimulus package and the bailout plans are the most common themes.
Over and above mapping to polling data, the merchandise is telling us something else: a renewed sense of patriotism has hit America, and the flavor of it has changed radically since the Bush administration. This time around, those critical of the government are doing so under the same patriotism umbrella of those supporting it. The Right has drastically changed its messaging, and disagreement with the government no longer sits under the header of “treason” or “traitor.” Indeed, the T-shirts are telling us that the Right feels that disagreement with the government is the new patriotism.
The Left, for its part, has stayed consistent with the pro-Obama messaging that was adopted throughout the election. With not much to rail against, the biggest shift in post-Bush liberal merchandise is the lack of anti-anything sentiments.
Whatever your take on the new administration, one thing’s for certain: the Obama administration has given voice to a new generation of American patriots. Some of them are celebrating with cheers; the others are throwing tea parties.
And now, since we all like grading things: