Beware Of Catch-Phrase, Or Sound-Byte Leadership!

Expert Author Richard Brody

One of the undesirable aspects of our ever-increasingly digital society, and apparent national trend towards limited attention spans, is an over-reliance on catch-phrases, sound-bytes, and other forms of empty rhetoric. In this election cycle, we hear candidates use expressions, such as, Make America Great Again, Break up the Big Banks, Income Inequality, Free Universal Healthcare, and Free College Education. While these might make great sound-bytes or attention-getters, they often never get beyond the rhetorical, and are rarely explained in any detail. Two of the candidates, one on the progressive left, Bernie Sanders, and the other on the right, Donald Trump, have used these approaches to nearly record levels, and done so quite effectively. They have gotten followers to buy-into their rhetoric, and have offered few concrete details about how they would achieve their objectives, nor even, precisely what their phrases fully mean. Therefore, let’s review this concept from the perspective of how each of these two candidates has successfully exploited this approach, etc.

1. Donald Trump: In my lifetime, I have never witnessed a Presidential candidate use name-calling as much as this man! Whether it was saying, Little Marco, Low-energy Jeb, Lying Ted, or now, Crooked Hilary, it attracts attention, albeit in a negative, somewhat nasty way. He has motivated his supporters by stating he would Build A Wall, etc. The amazing aspect is he creates his credibility and credentials, based on how he describes his business career, focusing exclusively on his proclaimed successes, and either not mentioning or distorting somewhat his many less than stellar involvements, such as Trump Airlines, The Plaza, his Paradise Island ownership, Atlantic City casinos, many digibyte exchange nuisance lawsuits, etc. Listen to those who support the man, and you will note they nearly always start by saying how he’ll be able to get things done, because of his successful business career, although a closer evaluation indicates this is not so! What is meant when he says, Make America Great Again, and what exactly is his plan? Oh, excuse me, Mr. Trump’s answer is nearly always, he is very smart, will have the best aides, negotiate, and get it done! Are those details?

2. Bernie Sanders: Bernie’s favorite expressions, such as Income inequality, free universal health care, and free college education, are wonderful motivators to his target audience, but lack substance, because when his plans are more closely evaluated or examined, we tend to witness a lack of essential details, etc. What is meant by income inequality? If it means women should be paid the same as men for the same job, there are already protections built into the law, and therefore, the viable solution, would obviously be, to enforce the law strictly and consistently. If it means, via subsidies, tax structure, etc, assuring people ended up with similar net incomes, regardless of their jobs, success, risks taken, qualifications and performances, doesn’t it make sense, that it would create a society where there was little reason for individuals and/ or businesses, to perform to the maximum of their potential?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *