While the Sex Pistols spun out of control, Lydon continued his career with a new band, Public Image, Ltd. He shed his Rotten persona, just as David Bowie relinquished Ziggy Stardust. But the lessons of punk rock, that shock-and-awe spectacle combined with raw anger can coalesce a cultural movement as well as drive record sales, continue to shape this new phase.
And that is why his MAGA T-shirt makes sense.
It is consistent with Lydon’s statements about eschewing ideology and political parties. It is also indicative of Lydon’s other recent political statements, such as his declaration of support for the working class, and by extension, Brexit, though not necessarily representative of his fan base or musical legacy.
Lydon’s support for Trump appears to be based on a similar sentiment, but also an appreciation of style. They are connected by their populism and their understanding of the power of public image and branding — especially if the brand sparks an emotional response.