Hillary’s campaign slogan: I’m with her.
Trump’s campaign slogan: Make America great again.
Does a presidential election increasingly come down to a slogan or catchy phrase put to music? Yes, indeed. But not just this year. It’s been part of the American political landscape in the modern mass media era for over sixty years.
In 1952, Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower was helped by his catchy I Like Ike campaign commercial. Or consider this repetitive jingle about Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy from 1960. Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy! In 1972, we had Nixon Now.
What do all these slogans and campaign songs have in common? They use a propaganda technique called glittering generalities, identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938 as one of the 7 main propaganda techniques. Something that glitters is like gold. It connotes something positive or ideal, even if the particular policies attached to these words are never explained.
I’m with her connotes attachment to potentially the first woman president of the United States. Get on board. Be a part of history making. Make America Great Again is a direct focus on nationalism and America first principles and ideals.
A GG (glittering generality) uses attractive but unspecific words that appeal to values and emotions. The more general and less specific a candidate can be, the better off s/he is with voters. Your goal is to appeal across a wide spectrum. Let the voters fill in the blanks as to the meaning of your GG. All you want is their support. Being too specific loses support.