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  • Eliot Fuller

Love Trumps Hate: revisiting the slogan of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re all thinking about love. Remember 2016, when Hillary Clinton frequently tossed around the pun-fully-intended slogan “Love Trumps Hate” while running against Donald Trump? Remember when Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention and suggested that “when [Republicans] go low, we go high,” a heavily-repeated mantra at the time? 


Democrats ran a campaign of love in 2016, but it earned them a painful loss in the general election. Most Americans rejected their message for a more controversial one from Donald Trump. Why is that? There’s a theory that love is stronger than hate, fear, or any negative emotion on the spectrum– yet Donald Trump didn’t follow this logic to secure his win. Trump used fear-mongering tactics and spoke with divisive language, inspiring Clinton to contrast herself and run as the candidate of love. 


We now know that this didn’t go well because being nice is good for your campaign's image, but that method lacks strategy when your opponent’s are hitting you from every angle. Democrats seem to always hold themselves to a higher standard than Republicans do, but it’s time for them to wake up and give the GOP a taste of their own medicine. 


The best way to beat Trump is by out-Trumping him. Make him look weak. Hit him with some zingers. Don’t stand by silently in the name of love. Democrats seem to be against what they’d consider “stooping” to his level, but if you don’t stoop to someone's level, you’ll often find yourself playing a completely different game than them. 


Here’s an unfortunate reality: love isn't the greatest energizer in politics. It’s not the emotion that politicians can rely on to inspire folks to vote. In today's society, that emotion is fear. Populism generally turns the public against, not in favor of something. Sure, Trump was for a border wall, but only because he was against immigration. Fear is a powerful tool when it comes to motivating the American electorate. 


Hillary Clinton has a far less cynical approach than I do when it comes to this. Morally speaking, I’m sure it felt right to run a campaign of love, but at the end of the day, Americans fell for what Trump was dishing out, and she didn't fight back enough. “Love Trumps Hate” was a clever slogan, but the majority of Americans didn’t have an appetite for this mentality back in 2016. When it comes to motivating and mobilizing voters, love doesn’t trump hate.

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