The Democratic primary season is upon us, so that means the field of 2020 (not the year, but the number of presidential candidates) will try to endear themselves to the electorate. This year’s crop of politicians – young and old – will employ a series of clichés that their predecessors did, making observers who have covered these contests every four years roll their eyes, cringe, and consume a glass of scotch.
It’s time to bring change to Washington. The American people need hope. Now is the opportunity to set a new paradigm of leadership in this country. We need to be proactive. And, most importantly, everyone must be bold on this journey to prosperity, equality, and justice for all!
Politicians and their supporters will typically describe their proposals as “bold,” a four-letter word that promises hope and pledges change to defy the traditional way of doing politics in the swamp. Unfortunately, when candidates are probed further about what this really means, they prattle on with empty platitudes, vague adjectives, and limp verbs.
These tired tropes, used by every politician during each election cycle, will be used again and again. As Democrats field their candidates to unseat President Donald Trump, you can bet there will be a healthy supply of worn-out statements. So, let’s run it up the flag pole and see who salutes it.
Campaigning Has Evolved
Suffice it to say, campaigning has evolved dramatically in the last century. Some say for better, some say for worse – $1 billion to run for president, debates void of real ideas, and advertising that appeals to the lowest common denominator: promising free stuff or claiming the opponent is the next Adolf Hitler. But elections weren’t always like this.
Take the 1924 presidential election. President Calvin Coolidge ran one of the most subdued and non-confrontational campaigns in the nation’s history – then and now. Conveying the message of being a symbol of strength and solidity, Coolidge ran short radio spots, posted print ads, and exhibited a style that could be condensed to a polite request of “vote for me.” He didn’t promise a bold strategy of unicorns and rainbows, just small government and leaving you alone.
Coolidge’s selection of a running mate was boring compared to today’s reality television spectacle standards. Coolidge didn’t strongly support any one candidate, so he relied on the Republican Party to choose for him, leading to a Calvin Coolidge-Charles Dawes ticket.
How did it work out? The country Stayed Cool with Coolidge as he won 54% of the popular vote, carried 35 states, and garnered 382 electoral votes. The GOP increased its House majority by 22 seats and Senate majority by three.
Coolidge did the opposite of what presidential hopefuls do today: He kept humble and refrained from participating in the hyperbole. And you know what? It succeeded!
In this day and age, what do change, hope, and bold even mean? President Barack Obama didn’t create change, he didn’t make the country hopeful, and he certainly wasn’t a bold man.
Whether on an MSNBC debate stage or in a television interview, the Democrats will explain that it is imperative to employ a series of bold initiatives, from tackling climate change to stop the world from ending in 12 years to overhauling the health care system. Suggesting that the whole country is suffering because of President Donald Trump’s policies, the liberal candidates in the 2020 field will propose their policy prescriptions or highlight their endorsements of some landmark proposal, like the ridiculous Green New Deal (GND).
Offering a cliché is a prerequisite in the modern-day political arena.
The only way moving forward is to be bold, otherwise “a bad situation will become worse,” as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) suggested in a 2016 debate.
But bold equates to bribing the electorate with its own money. In other words, whatever voters want, the crop of Democrats will give to them. The Dems will do whatever it takes to oust the president. It’s akin to James Cagney in the film The Roaring Twenties, when he tells the girl he’s carrying a torch for: “You want the Brooklyn Bridge, all you gotta do is ask for it. If I can’t buy it, I’ll steal it.”
There is nothing more nauseating than hearing a candidate use the word “hope” in a stump speech. It’s just as bad as reading the word “change” in campaign materials. And when candidates say they have a “bold” plan to save America, you need to tap into your lifetime supply of Pepto-Bismol. Of course, despite another cliché dominating every even year, nothing will be different. Elections have drifted too far from the farm to return to the days of keeping cool with Coolidge. Candidates not promising the moon using buzzwords are not trying hard enough to become president. Offering a cliché is a prerequisite in the modern-day political arena.