AOC Is Selling a $58 'Tax the Rich' Sweatshirt and Some People Are Not Happy About It
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no stranger to marketing herself and her politics. You could argue that she’s the most social media- and marketing-savvy of anyone in Congress. That’s due in part to her age, having grown up with the internet and having a firm grasp on what younger voters want.
Given AOC’s polarizing political status, there are plenty of people waiting to criticize her. After posting a new line of merchandise that outlines some aspects of her platform (student debt forgiveness, the Green New Deal, taxing the super-wealthy), someone noticed something resembling hypocrisy.
The “Tax the Rich” sweatshirt is listed for $58.
Granted, it was marked down from $65, and $58 for a sweatshirt isn’t too out of the ordinary these days (ask Kanye what his political merchandise went for). And proceeds from the shirt count as campaign contributions, so there are probably some healthy margins built in.
But still, given the messaging, some people felt that it missed its intended mark.
At $58.00 for a sweatshirt, you're not taxing the rich, you're overcharging the stupid.
— Darryl K (@keetondg) December 3, 2020
Nothing says "I fight for the little guy" like charging $65 for a sweatshirt. pic.twitter.com/EV1hAVgeGR
— Dan 🇺🇸 (@danieltobin) December 2, 2020
Conservative commentators, including Ben Shapiro, were also quick to criticize the sweatshirt.
Given the current political climate, literally every piece of merchandise that a candidate or official releases has the potential to open them up to criticism. There’s no way around it.
But maybe one reason for this particular vitriol toward AOC’s sweatshirts is that her opponents aren't super familiar with branded hoodies or sweatshirts and the prices they go for these days.
We looked at multiple political officials’ merchandise offerings and noticed that some major players in the Republican party don’t have hoodies available.
No, this is not actually why people are criticizing AOC’s sweatshirt, but it's a fun theory. Really, it's about politics. And as political merchandise becomes more and more adversarial and aggressive, this type of thing is just going to keep happening.
This time, though, the critics might be playing into AOC's hands. Now that the sweatshirt is making headlines all over the internet, it's everywhere, likely leading more potential purchasers to her site. And, following the uproar, her merchandise store now has an updated listing for the sweatshirt. Note the first bullet point:
If the text is too small, it reads "As complained about on Fox News." Leaning into the criticism and playing to her audience—like we said, pretty marketing-savvy.
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the criticism (via tweet, of course) by noting that the sweatshirt is USA-made and union printed, thus costing more to produce than a shirt made overseas. She also said the shirts are available free for campaign volunteers.