If we don’t want You-Know-Who-OTUS for a second term, maybe it’s time to strategize.
Conversation about the Democratic presidential hopefuls is circling around the question of what it means to be “electable” in 2020, especially with regard to the particular incumbent the Democratic candidate will face after winning the party’s nomination (You-Know-Who-OTUS). This elusive and relative quality — electability — is the goose that lays the golden egg, we seem to think, and everyone appears to have an opinion about it. Such opinions, as we’ve seen in past elections, might make the difference between, on the one hand, my supporting and voting in the primaries for a candidate I really like and, on the other, resignedly casting my vote for different person because that person has been deemed by something like popular opinion or conventional wisdom to be the most “electable.”
But when you decide not to vote for someone, YOU are making them less electable. See the problem here? The moment you decide not to vote for someone, for any reason, you’ve rendered that person less electable, especially if you share that decision with others. And if you decide not to vote for someone because you don’t think enough people will vote for them, you’re potentially participating in a collective second-guessing that can amount to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus candidates are weighed and measured by a set of beliefs that may not reflect real-world likelihood at all; instead, such assertions about electability may impose some people’s biases — like racism and sexism — to the extent that large numbers of people end up believing that the biases will be more powerful operators than they have to be.
If we stopped worrying about the immeasurable electability of a candidate we liked and instead just vociferously supported them, maybe we’d find that other people agreed with us, and maybe we would be able to combat and dismantle the biases that stand in the way of electing better, more representative representatives. But how can we push back against these powerful opinions that come to be labeled “conventional wisdom”?
News coverage, including discourse on social media, is the main conduit of these opinions and assertions. As marketers know, the more exposure we have to something, the more likely we are to buy it. So it seems to be with presidential candidates, as well. If, as the results of past elections suggest, the media-presence of a candidate can predict success in elections, then in the race to the 2020 primaries, early as it is, the frontrunners are clear and unsurprising, thanks to the coverage they’ve received. Conventional “wisdom” tells us that the candidates with the most name-recognition are the best ones to pick to represent the party in the general election. And in the end, the candidate with the most exposure, the most name-recognition, is likely to win; incumbents, as a rule, are at an advantage.
For a terrifically helpful, in-depth analysis of the news coverage of the 2020 Democratic candidates from January to April, 2019, read this article, published April 18 by Michael Tauberg in Towards Data Science, a Medium publication:
But is the 2020 election a foregone conclusion? Does it have to be? Not, I think, if all of us who want a new president devote ourselves to trying a few things:
- Stop contributing to the media-presence of the incumbent.
You’ll notice I haven’t said his name here. If we all adopted a little trick from the Harry Potter universe and abstained from directly repeating the name of You-Know-Who-in-Chief (I’m only half-kidding!), stopped following his tweets, stopped covering them as though they were news — even for a week, even for a day — we’d start to make a dent. Deny him the free publicity at every opportunity. Reduce his presence. It’s a big job: the thing he may actually be a genius at is garnering publicity. But even as he’s chewing up the scenery, the numbers are on our side.
- Decide to vote for the candidate you actually want to see in the White House.
Don’t be deterred by rumors that she’s not electable. She is if we support her, get the word out for her, tweet about her, canvass for her, create that name-recognition, that media exposure. We do have the power, collectively, to fire up the Twitterverse and grab hold of the attention of the traditional news-outlets. Someone’s name-recognition as a former Vice President doesn’t have to make him the logical choice, not if we truly want to see someone else in the Oval Office instead. And it is entirely possible that SHE, our actual favorite candidate, can and will defeat You-Know-Who-OTUS in 2020. After all, in 2016, she already did.