If your political bumper stickers don’t communicate enough for you, you may be able to get some very familiar slogans on your license plate—assuming you live in Oklahoma and love Donald Trump, that is. Republican State Sens. Nathan Dahm and Marty Quinn proposed a bill to add a couple of options for Trump-themed special license plates, as reported by local outlet WKYT. If the bill passes, two of Trump’s slogans, “Keep America Great” and “Make America Great Again,” might be gliding through Oklahoma (and beyond).
“There’s people that are upset with the president just in general, so I understand that people have those feelings, potentially negative feelings towards the president, but the great thing is, here in America, you have freedom of speech,” Dahm said to Oklahoma’s local News 4 in an interview.
Money from the sales would go to two military and veteran nonprofits, Warriors of Freedom and the Folds of Honor Foundation, not Trump’s reelection campaign, said both senators. Still, if your first thought is that there have got to be some rules against this, you’re not alone. Paul Ross, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, attempted to clarify this issue, in speaking to the Washington Post. Even with clarification, it’s a little muddy.
According to Ross, the agency doesn’t allow personalized VIN numbers that are threatening, discriminatory, or overtly political plates. That said, it goes a little deeper than that, according to Ross. These parameters go out the window when state legislature makes decisions on approved specialty plates. The bill will be considered on Feb. 3, 2020, when Oklahoma’s legislative body next meets. The governor would then have to sign it into law for it to move forward.
In practice, here is how this would likely shake out. The $10 purchase fee, as well as the $20 special plate fee (which is a yearly expense), would benefit the aforementioned Warriors of Freedom and the Folds of Honor Foundation, both of which support military families and veterans.
Now, if you’re curious about where Trump would fall into this, Ross suggests to the Post that the Tax Commission would have to work with the Trump campaign to create the design. From there, at least 100 people would have to place a pre-order to purchase the plate before they were actually made. Given that Trump won Oklahoma in 2016, it’s reasonable to believe those 100 pre-purchases would move fast. But that doesn’t negate the potential legal issues if taxpayer dollars or resources go toward making the signs, according to the Post.
It’s not unusual for states to offer a variety of specialty plates. It’s not even unusual for those proceeds to go to local nonprofits or groups of varying political subtlety. But MAGA-themed rally slogan plates are uniquely troubling, though coming from these two, probably not surprising. Dahm and Quinn also recently proposed dedicating a portion of Route 66 to Trump. And for the record, they aren’t even the first GOP members to suggest naming highway stretches after him. This particular highway bill, along with the license plates, will be considered in February.
Trump as far as the eye can see might reassure GOP lawmakers, but for everyone else—including the blue pockets of Oklahoma—it’s a big signal to switch gears.