The dirty little secret that no one likes to concede — but just about everyone accepts — is that most Americans dislike politics and hate politicians even more.
The subtlety in political speak. The parsing of phrases. The politically correct, “weasel” language used to answer questions. Donald Trump rejected most if not all if it, and it led to his surprising win in 2016, and if Democrats aren’t careful, his re-election in 2020.
So it should not surprise the thoughtful, objective, and balanced analyst that this week’s Democratic debates did not inspire a groundswell for any of the Democratic candidates running for president against Donald Trump.
The two debates had more people talking about them from the pundit class than it did from the men and women on the street who are more concerned about paying next month’s bills.
This week’s Miami show gave President Trump another win for two reasons. First, the Democratic brand, as outlined in the debates, was lacking in a clear statement of how that party will finally “get it” and articulate how it will satisfy the needs of most Americans.
And, second, the political personalities assembled on stage, in search of active primary supporters, seemed more intent on one-upping each other rather than seeing the bigger picture of the next 16 months.
Sure the left-leaning segment of the party loved hearing their talking points discussed over the two days. One of the ideas that most candidates agreed with, an activist favorite — was healthcare for everyone… even those who came to this country illegally.
This seems a winning idea for activist, hard-core liberal Democrats. But it puts up some serious speed bumps for the party in the general. The old idea, that you “run” left in the Democratic primaries and move to the center in the general, does not apply today, for all the reasons we’ve discussed in recent weeks.
With social media and digital marketing, politically based content is forever. You can’t hide from your previous pronouncements. You can’t even talk around them, thanks to Google and professionalization of opposition research.
In short, what one says in a primary debate can come back to bite you in the general election. ABB (Always Be Branding) is a clarion call for campaign consultants of every political persuasion today. It seems many have not heard it.
As for the issue of political personality brands, I’d submit that none of those on the Miami stage has what it takes to challenge Trump.
Even the “ever-loquacious” Donnie Deutsch mentioned that he did not see anyone in the race right now standing up to Trump.
On a recent panel, he said to his chagrined panelists:
“None of them were competitive enough... If you put Donald Trump on the stage next to any of these people in a one-on-one, he'd eat their lunch."
The reason for Trump’s popularity and his resonance with voters is his use of plain simple language that most Americans find refreshing and true. Trump supporters feel that his implementation of the vernacular gets to the point and doesn’t hedge on phrases/words that obfuscate rather than clarify.
An illustrious example is Trump’s use of the term “border crisis.” Democrats and some Republicans have denied there is a crisis — however, in recent weeks, they’re singing a different tune, based on events at the border. They are now assessing blame to the president for causing the problem as cover for their initial pronouncements.
One gets the feeling that the people doing most of the complaining about President Trump are the vociferous minority. They are the folks who are addicted to the very “political speak” that most Americans dislike and that some may say even hate.
If this is the case, then President Trump’s secret weapon is the Democratic brand and the candidate that party chooses. One thing is for sure — the 2020 winner will be decided when the victorious side recognizes that it’s always easier when you have branding and marketing in mind.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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