Repetitive Rhetoric of the 2016 Campaign Season

By Emily Kulp

This past weekend, the “breaking news” headline on CNN declared, “Clinton calls some Trump supporters deplorables” while a top headline on Fox News stated, “Bill Clinton suggests Trump slogan racist — but he used the same one.” Looking at these headlines, I could not help but consider the stagnant swamp of rhetoric in which this campaign season has long been stuck. Over the past year, political campaigns and the American public have been repeating the same language to defame both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over and over again.

On Sept. 8, 2015, almost a year ago to date, CNN reported that the two “front-runners” of the 2016 campaign were participating in an “escalating feud.” Hillary Clinton said of Donald Trump, “Mr. Trump insults, he dismisses women.” Trump then responded by tweeting, “Hillary said such nasty things about me […] but there was no emotion, no truth. Just can’t read speeches!” This exchange could have happened just as easily today. It seems Clinton and her supporters are incapable of speaking about Trump without using the words “unfit,” insult,” “racist,” and “sexist.” Similarly, Trump supporters cannot talk about Clinton without rendering her “crooked,” “corrupt,” and a “liar.” However true or untrue one believes these assertions to be, repeating the same rhetoric leads us nowhere. These cyclic insults have begun to taste bitter on everyone’s tongues.

Bernie Sanders said to Hillary Clinton at a Democratic debate earlier this year, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Though his comment was met with laughter, he may have been onto something. Although the insults directed towards Trump and Clinton this campaign season may have some truth to them, their repetition renders their meanings unintelligible. Even for those who most strongly believe that Clinton is a corrupt liar or that Trump is a racist, the language of this campaign season is getting boring.

It is time we begin to question why we have been experiencing such a static campaign season. Why are we constantly repeating what has already been said and feigning shock at insults that have already been made? We are standing still when, with two months to the general election, we should be moving ahead. By repeating the same narratives about the presidential candidates over and over again, we are missing out on so much. We are missing out on the true stories of the candidates and the fact that we as the American people must make a decision in two months. It is up to us, the voters, to turn away from the repetitious and accusatory headlines the media pushes on us and instead seek to form our own opinions. By doing this, we move forward and begin to make judicious decisions about the upcoming election. As long as we stay put in a swamp of stagnant rhetoric, we gain nothing but a repeat of the past year of campaigning, and who wants that?

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