One of the more entertaining aspects of the 2016 Election cycle has been the bestowing of nicknames by Donald Trump to his opponents. Although they are humorous, the branding of his opponents is meant to marginalize them, and with each comes a bit of truth.
“Donald Trump has a new nickname for Hillary Clinton,” The Hill reports. “The Republican presidential hopeful tried out “Crooked Hillary” at a campaign rally in Watertown, New York, Saturday. He had previously referred to the Democratic front-runner as “incompetent Hillary.”
Mr. Trump has not been shy about branding his opponents with nicknames and critical observations, having done so throughout his campaign. He has dubbed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “Lyin’ Ted,” having gone so far as to have spelled “Lyin’” to a rally crowd, and labelled Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), “Little Marco,” a reference to his height and youth.
Mr. Trump has also made critical comments about stage appearance, commenting overtly on the debate stage appearances of Gov. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio.
Where some might find this sort of thing sophomoric, the branding of political opponents has a storied history going back to the Founders. It also serves a strategic purpose as well, and presents as a potent tactic in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
Branding your opponent plants a subliminal thought in the people’s minds. The repetition of a brand can lead some to accept the concept of the message without the need for drawn-out explanations and narratives.
By Labelling Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” Mr. Trump reminds those listening and/or reading Mr. Cruz has had issues with telling the truth. In calling Marco Rubio “Little Marco,” he reminds people that Mr. Rubio is a freshman senator. And by labelling Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary,” he facilitates a recollection of all of the scandals that surround Mrs. Clinton, from the beginning of her political career with her unethical behavior in the Watergate investigation to her outright lies about Benghazi.
Yes, bestowing nicknames to his opponents may seem “childish” to some, but Mr. Trump is doing it for a reason. And it is a reason that makes great tactical sense in politics.
What do you think about Donald Trump’s use of nicknames? Please share the story on Facebook and tell us because we want to hear YOUR voice!