By Karin Caifa in Washington D.C.
In the fashion world, nothing signals the passing of a trend like its move to the sale rack. When one passes her favorite store and notes she's the mirror image of the mannequin in the window - except for a sign on the shoulder indicating "75% off" - even the freshest fashionista can walk away feeling wilted.
Much as the fashion world moves on, presidential politics has just gone through a change of seasons. After a primary season marked by endless choices, minimalism is a la mode as we head into summer. One choice for each party -- even if they aren't necessarily one-size-fits-all. And to those who proudly wore the t-shirts of other candidates through the winter and spring - especially Hillary Clinton - it can be a crushing blow to see that merchandise on the sale rack.
Which is where a good deal of Clinton merchandise has moved over the last week. Strolling through a mall in Arlington, Virginia, shortly after Saturday's concession speech, I came across the famous Hillary "nutcracker," a hot item during primary season, marked at 50% off. (A search for the same item on Amazon.com revealed an even deeper discount of 67%.) Also marked for quick sale, a t-shirt advocating the unrealized dream of "Bill Clinton for First Man." A chain of Washington-area shops called, America!, is also pushing leftover Clinton merchandise, slashing prices on bobbleheads and shirts reading, "Madame President." Even the Vermont Teddy Bear Company has marked down a bear-y cute likeness of Clinton, complete with pantsuit, pearls and a "Hillary" campaign button, by 25 percent. McCain and Obama remain at full price.
CafePress, a website that lets users create t-shirts, hats and other products, has charted the sale of goods related to the various presidential hopefuls since the early months of the primaries. Perhaps they offered the best arbiter of how the Democratic race would turn out: the percentage of items sold with Obama's image dwarfed that of those with Clinton's. CafePress also reported in the final week of Democratic primaries, sales of Obama items shot up 12 percent, while Clinton's declined by four. But Clinton's number could be deceiving. A number of products with her name also feature Obama's, for those who want to wear their hope of a joint ticket on their sleeve.
No matter your candidate during primary season, Obama and McCain will spend their summer getting you to try them on for fall. An enduring trend for more than 230 years, American democracy is something has never fallen out of fashion. Even if a particular candidate does.