In the interest of full disclosure, before I launch into my thoughts about Melania Trump’s convention speech, I think it is important to tell you whom I plan to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election. At this moment my charming and faithful dog Annabell is my top choice as a write-in candidate. Yes, I am among the disgruntled, which requires the giant assumption that I was ever gruntled.
Yet, despite my lack of enthusiasm for any Presidential candidate short of the entertainment value of the large rubber boot perched atop the head of Vermin Supreme, I’m about to defend Melania’s alleged ‘plagiarized’ speech. Well, maybe not defend, but at least explain why her speech was so similar to Michelle Obama’s.
The reason is actually very basic. It’s the same reason all beer is ‘refreshing’, all mattresses lead to ‘better sleep’, and hamburgers are always ‘juicy and seasoned to perfection’. Presidents are nothing more than brands and those brands have become as contrived as every other.
Political marketing experts use focus groups to measure the words and phrases emitted by candidates that evoke trust, likability, and other positive emotions in their audiences. Such a large number of these data points have been collected that strong trends have emerged and speech writing has been boiled down to a combination of key phrases designed to manipulate the emotions of listeners. When every speech-writing committee comprised of political brand managers evoke this same formulaic approach to speech writing, the speeches will all end up sounding quite similar. It’s possible we have reached the era where there is ONLY ONE political speech.
Give a monkey a keyboard with the words ‘values’, ‘hard work’, ‘dignity’, ‘respect’, ‘integrity’, ‘our children’, ‘achieve’, ‘goals’, ‘future’, ‘better’, ‘great’, ‘economy’, ‘growth’, ‘people’, ‘America’, ‘remarkable’, ‘join us’, and a few exclamation points, and he or she will produce a political speech.
Dr. Holly A. Bell is a wanderer, ponderer, language learner and slaughterer, an optimistic pessimist writer of novels, and an interdisciplinary professor of Finance, Economics, and Business at the University of Alaska. She lives, loves, and writes in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska. Her latest novel, Trading Salvos, is available on Amazon.