It was cheap and garish and not very imaginative, so generic that it might well have been churned out by some your-design-here online vendor. And it was—no matter which side of the aisle you’re on; no matter if you get amped or feel hollow when you see it—genius. Perched atop the heads of millions of voters, a red baseball cap emblazoned with one vague yet unforgettable message became the most politically potent image of 2016. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” it commanded in all-caps.
Of course, the poly-cotton accessory alone didn’t win Donald Trump the presidential election. But the MAGA hat did initiate strangers across state lines into a club governed by a shared (albeit amorphous) dream. And that helped get him to the White House.