The Power Of Words

Words count even in this age of technology – they certainly can’t be displaced by emojis

3/2/2017 3:45:44 PM
written By : Staff Reporter Print

The more patriotic slogan won the race to the White House. One of Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogans, “Stronger together”, sounded impersonal while the other, “I’m with her” had a personal touch, affirming her supporters’ commitment to her, but Donald Trump’s slogan rose above partisanship, expressing love for the country: “Make America great again”. Trump’s critics disputed the validity of the slogan, maintaining America had not lost its greatness, but the words resonated with workers who had lost or were in danger of losing their jobs, and those who didn’t like the growing diversity of the nation – who yearned for an older, whiter America where workers didn’t live in fear of factories shutting down and jobs being offshored. 

Patriotic slogans don’t always win elections. John McCain’s 2008 campaign slogan “Country first” was obviously more patriotic than Barack Obama’s “Yes we can!” and “Change we can believe in”, but Obama fired up the young and the workers hit by the Great Recession who wanted change. Of course, words alone can’t win hearts and minds. If you go through the list of US presidential campaign slogans, you will see how candidates feed off each other. Obama’s “Yes we can!” was a riff on George W Bush 2004 campaign slogan “Yes, America can!” while Trump’s “Make America great again” harks back to John Kerry’s slogan in his failed 2004 run, “Let America be America again”. 

You will be right, of course, if you say Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and campaign slogans alone don’t win or lose elections, but candidates wouldn’t use them if they didn’t need them. They are the catchphrases used to appeal to voters – and what are catchphrases but words? Words move, energise, articulate ideas and feelings that can’t be expressed more clearly or succinctly by anything else – not even by emojis. Is there any emoji for “I love you” or “Please accept my sympathies”? 

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