Former Vice President Joe Biden’s electoral win ushered in a celebratory mood for Democratic voters over the weekend. Dancing in the streets, champagne popping, and “FDT” scaling up the charts. On Saturday, the president-elect posed for a photo with incoming first lady Jill Biden, while sporting a hat that says “We just did," with the number 46 written beneath it — a clear call-and-response to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” iconography.
This was hailed on Twitter as a brilliant move, an epic clapback, so shady, or some combination of the two with cry-laughing and nail polish emojis. As Insider reports, Google searches for the hat surged on Sunday, and there are already hundreds of Etsy results for “We just did” merchandise. While its general premise manages to rise above the terrible “Make America _____ Again” parody hats that emerged in the wake of 2016, I regret to inform you that they still suck so bad!!
Biden’s entire electoral premise — that beating Trump would restore the soul of the nation, patch up the enormous gulf between political factions in America, and result in people like ex-Quibi CEO Meg Whitman finding work in his cabinet — appears to be accomplished the moment networks called the race. When you run a campaign focused on vibes and undoing egregious policies from your predecessor, it’s easy to imagine how quickly the complacency can set in for brunchers and people who just wanted a break from the news.
Whether or not the campaign realizes this, “we just did” remarkably reads as an inversion of “yes we can” — a forward-looking sentiment implying a better world is possible, even if the results didn’t quite bear that out. A Biden presidency would be better suited to address the dual crises of an uncontrolled pandemic and mass unemployment, simply by not ignoring them, but those titanic obstacles make any sort of prolonged celebration feel off-base.
The hats savvily fly in the face of the third crisis — a sitting president failing to accept the results of an election, and openly flirting with coup-adjacent behavior. Adding to the dissonance, two Etsy sellers interviewed by Insider are giving half of their proceeds to the Biden Fight Fund — a war chest established to fend off any Trump legal challenges. Although one seller hails the hats as a “historical item,” the surrounding noise will slot them in right alongside the Mike Pence flyswatter as a wispy memory lost to time.
If the days since he became President-elect Biden are any indication, the country will only be splintered further, with President Trump and his enablers falsely painting the election as a fraudulent enterprise for many months to come. The “mission: accomplished” banner on the hat, which implicitly argues that democratic processes are working as they’re supposed to, misses the mark when the greatest threat to democracy flails his way out the door.