A few days ago, the news that Donald Trump’s campaign was selling plastic straws made the rounds. The tag line was a slight to the other side of the aisle: “Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today.” At the time, the straw campaign had raised just over $200,000. Now, after the story went viral, nearly $500,000 worth of the Trump-branded plastic straws have been purchased.
The campaign’s goal is simple. In a bid to raise as much money as possible for the 2020 elections, the Trump campaign politized plastic straws, something that, until now, hadn’t been exactly political. Most everyone could agree that less plastic was better, except for Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager.
According to Politico, Parscale was annoyed when a paper straw he was using ripped in half. Instead of simply drinking without a straw, he decided that he would make plastic straws great again. He let his staff know what he planned, and within a few short weeks, the red plastic straws, emblazoned with the Trump name, were on the campaign’s website.
Since they first began selling them on July 19, $456,000 worth of straws has been sold. Coming in packs of 10, they sell for $15.00. The success of the campaign is, most likely, because of the schoolyard mentality of it. It’s an obvious bid to anger liberals—who, apparently, are the only ones who want to help make the planet a little less filthy. And while when Trump said that “I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws,” he was right, it seems a little strange to actively add to a problem, no matter how small you might think it is. And if you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors (which is likely if you’re reading this website) creating more plastic with the sole intention of pissing off a bunch of “snowflakes” should piss you off, even if you like pissing off snowflakes. The campaign says the straws are both reusable and recyclable. But let me ask you something: which plastic straws aren’t already reusable? And although plastic straws are generally recyclable, most recycling facilities don’t accept them. And even if they did, that’s not really the problem. The real problem is our aversion to a little bit of extra effort.
Science Advances published a study back in 2018 that found that 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. A recent study found that there are an estimated 7.5 million plastic straws littered across United States beaches, just a fraction of the 35 million tons of plastic pollution created worldwide annually.
From a fund-raising perspective, the straw campaign has been incredibly successful, and even Democrats realize the cleverness of it.
“I think something Trump has always understood very clearly is how to tap into a cultural moment or zeitgeist and leverage it to his advantage,” said Tara McGowan, a top Democratic digital strategist and climate change activist, to Politico. “So for him, taking a relatively new thing in the world that most people hate (paper straws) and leveraging it to both make a political statement and raise [hundreds of thousands] of dollars by selling plastic straws is both brilliant and sinister.”