Good analysis of the MAGA slogan. After 30+ years writing ad copy I was looking for you to also comment on the fact that three of the four words were simple, one syllable words instead of high-falutin’ big words. This, too, contributed to the effectiveness.
Personally, my problem with slogans is that the problems of real life are nuanced and do not fit on a bumper sticker or the brim of a hat. Nevertheless, at election time, you really won’t see complicated analysis of real issues.
I believe it was in Walter Cronkite’s autobiography that he discussed one of the differences between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The end of Carter’s term in office saw double digit inflation and double digit unemployment. It was a tough time. At a press conference (if my facts are correct) Carter was asked what he was going to do about it. He spent an hour outlining a 13-point plan that was detailed and erudite. The press room fell asleep. (Not literally, but they did zone off. Cronkite said Carter was very smart, but missed making some connections.) In contrast, when two years later we were still in recession, Reagan was asked the same question. He replied, “I just received a letter from a little girl in Denver whose father is out of work. I replied that we will not stop working on this till he is working again.” Simple. One sentence and out.
Carter’s campaign for presidency had a couple slogans, one of then “Not Just Peanuts”, but what I remember most was the book he released in the summer of ’76. “WHY NOT THE BEST?” I still remember it. Why? It is four simple one syllable words, but it also carries the aspirational element that you cite. It implies much without defining anything, like MAGA.
Anyways, good analysis.