The Ties Have It

I’ve been thinking about men’s ties a lot lately, especially when it comes to the presidential candidates. I’ve been wondering if there is a connection between the candidate’s political affiliation and the color of the neck tie the candidate wears. Of course, we had two women also running for president, and one still in the race, so this hypothesis doesn’t really apply to them, unless we pay attention to the color of Hillary’s pant suits, but I will leave that subject for another time. In any case, it’s an interesting correlation between tie color and party affiliation and may be worth a closer look.

In the South Carolina Republican debate the front-runner Donald Trump was wearing a read tie and Jeb Bush, then running 5th in the polls, was wearing a blue one. After Trump’s decisive victory in South Carolina Jeb dropped out of the race. Perhaps if Jeb wore a red tie more occasionally he would still be in the race. His blue tie was a mistake, especially for someone dogged by perceptions of low energy as Jeb was. The point is, Republican candidate Jeb wore a blue tie and is now in the past tense, while the present tense candidate continues to wear a bold red more often. Of course, Donald being Donald, no rules seem to apply. After his victory in South Carolina Trump wore a bold blue tie for the next primary. During Super Tuesday he was also seen wearing a blue tie. Is he so confident now that he feels he can tempt fate by wearing the color of the Democratic Party?

For his first appearance as Speaker of the House at the State of the Union, Paul Ryan took to social media to ask the public to choose between a red and a blue tie. Not surprisingly, the red won. Red is the color of the Republican Party, while Blue signifies the Democrats. Following Justice Anotin Scalia’s death, President Obama held a press conference in which he announced that he would fulfill his constitutional duty and nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the bench left by Scalia’s death. During that press conference I found it strange that Obama was not wearing a tie. Was he attempting to display an air of impartiality, or was this a calculated move on his part?

The semiotic lens through which we view and interpret a person through his or her clothing is more than an interesting exercise, it can also tell us something about how we wish to be perceived by others. After a quick Google Image search I found that President Obama wears dark ties most often. Trump wears bold colors: reds, blues, and a slightly lighter shade on occasion. Moreover, Trump’s tie style favors single color schemes without patterns of any kind. Jeb is partial to stripes. Bernie Sanders seems to prefer ties with dotted patterns. Marco Rubio wears red ties most often, but blue ties also figure prominently in his repertoire. What does this say about him? Perhaps he is more of a moderate than we think? Both Sanders and Obama are often seen without ties, which may suggest that they are the ones who like to get down to work, or at least give the perception of doing so.

However the 2016 presidential election turns out, the neck tie that the male candidates wear may have more of an impact of voter choice then they realize. After all, image is everything in this social media dominated world. Have we lost a desire for ideas, and instead, vote for the candidate that looks most presidential. Since the Nixon-Kennedy televised debate we seem to have sacrificed thinking for appearance, and with Trump as the dominate front-runner for the Republicans, what more proof is needed that critical thinking skills are no longer valued by at least half the voters in the United States.

So there you are: the ties have it.


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