While the 2016 election prompted social media users to say things like “Ha ha, what is this, The Purge?” and “The Trump kids always look like they just took their Purge masks off,” it’s now official — Donald J. Trump, soon-to-be president of the United States of America, wants his 2020 campaign slogan to be “Keep America Great.”
This fact was revealed in an interview with The Washington Post, published this morning. The interviewer did not mention to Trump that the phrase is already the tagline of the 2016 horror film The Purge: Election Year, a film about income inequality and mass murder in the nation’s capital. It is the latest in a series of films about a dystopian alternate reality in which America gives its citizens one night every year to commit any crime they want — including murder! The comparisons to the Trump campaign are probably due in part to his playful ribbing of his “vicious, violent” supporters and the fact that he, at one point, “joked” that his supporters should consider murdering his opponent.
As Emily Yoshida pointed out in her review for The Verge: “The Purge exists not to cleanse Americans of their sins, but to cleanse America of its poor and disenfranchised— who conveniently, often happen to be non-white.” Some might say the phrases “make America great again” and “keep America great” have similar impulses behind them, particularly considering the incoming administration’s stances on health care, education, immigration, and the minimum wage.
In the Washington Post interview, Trump said he would like to trademark the phrase both with and without an exclamation point.
So there it is. “Keep America Great” and “Keep America Great!” are two phrases the president-elect would like to own so he can tie his political future to the legacy of a film in which a neo-Nazi paramilitary force plays a pivotal role in the plot.