Let Them Wear T-Shirts For the Love Of God

Photo: Meg Kinnard (AP)

It is hot as shit right now in a large portion of the United States of America. You can blame this on two things: the fact that it is “summer” and the fact that climate change is contributing to rising average temperatures around the globe and less consistent seasonal patterns which will eventually kill us all through some combination of flooding, drought, inclement weather, uncontrollable wildfires, or the inevitable armed conflict that follows all of those. Nowhere is this more apparent than Miami, where nearly all of the Democratic candidates for president are situated for the next day or so for their first round of debates.

I mean look at this shit! How the hell do people live here? On Wednesday it was 89 degrees with 67 percent humidity in Miami. Today it is 86. Please. Eric Swalwell is dying over here.


Here is the point that I am making with all of this, which you may have guessed from the headline: let these folks wear a dang T-shirt.

You know what sucks in the heat? Wearing a fricken suit. It sucks! There’s nothing like it. A dress shirt in the heat? Awful! Just a horrible experience all round. And yet day in and day out, we let presidential candidates suffer in the confines of the standard. In most other cases, I am fine with presidential candidates suffering, but we live in a changing world and no one should be imprisoned by their own sweat if they don’t have to be. Look at this!



This post, for the most part, refers to the men running for office. Unsurprisingly, the women on the campaign trail have been more sensible. Here’s Elizabeth Warren at the Homestead detention center in Florida before the debates; Klobuchar was also there yesterday and chose a polo shirt:

Photo: Elizabeth Warren (Twitter)

Great. Good. But the men. Man. We gotta talk. What can you do as a presidential candidate running for office. If you’re feeling really casual, you can do the blue dress shirt and roll up your sleeves, like this. Looks good, sure. But who the fuck drives a truck out into the middle of nowhere in a dress shirt?

Image: Vanity Fair

Let these dudes dress appropriately for what they’re doing! Most importantly, let them wear a T-shirt every once in a while! Does Beto O’Rourke really need to be wearing that blue dress shirt that every politician owns so he can climb around on countertops? Per Jerry Iannelli, the Miami New Times’ reporter who captured melting Swalwell, Florida politicians have been known to put on a hat in times of extreme duress, but the collared shirts are unshakeable.

And look, I get it. We require politicians to dress a certain way because of the gravitas and seriousness of their occupation. There are certain societal conventions that require formal or semi-formal wear for most of the performance of government duties. I think that’s fine. If your job is walking around in the Capitol Building or the White House all day, then yeah. Wear a suit. It’s part of the whole thing. But these people aren’t doing that! They’re traveling the country constantly, meeting with people in a wide variety of situations and locations. Dress for the occasion! This isn’t a like, “dur working class people don’t know fashion” take (although I do think the Iowa farmers everyone panders to are more concerned about corn subsidies than starched collars). It’s that it should be completely fine to ditch the suit separates every now and then and wear normal clothes during the course of a two-year-long campaign cycle.


If you needed any more proof that these political conventions are causing absolutely deranged behavior, let’s go to Rep. Jim Clyburn’s annual fish fry, the one occasion this campaign where every candidate put on a T-shirt.

Here they are:

Photo: Meg Kinnard (AP)

Beto, Swalwell, Klobuchar, Warren, Gillibrand, Tulsi, Messam, Ryan... all fine. Harris kept her blazer on, which is weird. But then.


What... the fuck. What the FUCK. This is the most psycho shit I can think of. The T-shirt OVER button-down look is absolutely one of the most utterly fucked-up things we allow politicians in this country to get away with. Just completely insane. Why would you do this? Like half of the crowd managed to change into the shirts without looking like absolute lunatics, why would you do this??? I’m sorry, but this is pretty close to a dealbreaker for me. Castro, de Blasio, Inslee, those other two guys... you’re all on notice. I can see maybe, maybe giving Bernie a pass because he’s pushing 80 and I don’t think he’s worn just a T-shirt in his entire life, but the rest of them? Good lord.

All of these candidates want to represent the people. It’s about time they stopped dressing like weird aliens who crashed into a Nordstrom Rack.

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About the author

Jack Crosbie

Contributing Writer, Splinter