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    Getting Swept Up in ‘Secondhand’ Politics

    Presidential-Seal-inside-frame

    It’s hard to live in DC right now without constantly noticing all of the inaugural preparations going on.  The city is buzzing with an influx of political tourists, the streets are lined with port-a-potties patriotically decorated store windows, and of course tons of temporary stores and booths are popping up to sell us all kitschy political souvenirs.

    Now I don’t like to mix pleasure and politics, but since my city is DC and my pleasure is thrift stores, I couldn’t help myself. Seeing all of these t-shirts and bobbleheads being plucked up brought back a flood of memories of all the political swag that I saw in thrift stores across the country during the great RV trip in 2011.

    T-Shirt Reading "Fred Thompson 2008"

    Because of all the donated donkey and elephant swag I saw dotting America’s thrift stores, I can’t help but wonder how much of what was sold over the course of the campaign — and what is being sold here in the next few days — will soon be looking for a second home at Goodwill®.

    Since thrift stores are a cultural collection point, eventually swag from both winners and losers — on all levels of government — will end up there.  I remember being especially bummed that I was only a few months short of the Iowa caucuses in 2011, shortly after which I’m sure there would’ve been a torrent of swag and slogans flooding the donation bins.

    T-Shirt Reading "Fist Pump Veteran"

    It all boils down to making impulse purchases and buying stuff we don’t really need because of the hype that surrounds us and sweeps us up. I guarantee no one ever said, “My life would be complete if I only had an (enter politician name here) bobblehead.” And if they did, it certainly didn’t ring true.

    Now if I could only convince a few Inaugural Ball-goers to sport some repurposed gowns!

    Jenna Isaacson
    is a journalist, Midwesterner and thrift addict. She started her project All Thrifty States, in 2010. In 2011, with support from Goodwill and Kickstarter, she spent 52 days traveling 10,000 miles in an RV documenting items, people and scenes from thrift stores in 30 states. Now with 40 states complete, she intends to publish a book when it's complete. She lives in Washington, DC with a very patient husband.
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