The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the position of ZU Media or APU.
Name-calling is an unusual but effective strategy for candidates to use in elections. While morally wrong, politics use it constantly.
Name-calling a rival is a common occurrence in elections in the United States. President Trump and presidential candidate Biden have called each other names before their campaigns even began. During the run for the 2020 presidential election, this has increased tenfold.
While it can be thought of as an ugly way of downtalking your opponent, this tactic has existed since the United States had two political parties. Name-calling’s lasting presence in our history caused it to remain and evolve to the present day.
Name-calling is not foreign to the general population. It primarily took place in our childhood in the schoolyard. Usually done out of spite and anger, it’s looked down upon as being morally wrong. Because of this, we are usually taught to avoid the practice from the age of four.
But in politics, especially in elections, candidates call each other names to have the voters associate their rivals with negative thoughts. This intention of associating each other with negative beliefs is a strategy to make themselves look like the better option, while making their enemies look lesser. While I do understand the tactic to win, it could still be considered wrong.
The 2020 presidential election is a good example of this. President Trump called democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden “Joe Hiden” for supposedly reading an answer to a reporter’s question, and hiding away from directly answering questions. While Joe Biden didn’t name call as much, he still called President Trump “President Tweety” to imply Trump’s amount of activity on social media.
While the names sound ridiculous, they’re aimed towards a specific crowd of people. Specifically, those who are considered to be hardcore, party loyalists. So, when candidates name-call each other, supporters on both sides will also use those names to defend the party they side with.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of name-calling as a strategy to associate candidates with negative thoughts. It can be ridiculous to think about two grown adults calling each other insulting names to help themselves win over the approval of the people.
However, because it is an effective way to downplay another, this strategy has remained in use since the U.S. became a nation. When John Adams, Thomas Pinckney, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr all ran for the 1796 presidential election, name-calling was used. John Adams was nicknamed “His Rotundity” for being stubby. But it didn’t work since John Adams won that election.
While politics have changed, name-calling has remained relatively the same. Politics will continue to use this strategy as it still holds weight in turning the tides of elections. Even though it is ridiculous — and can be outright hilarious — it can’t be denied how negative associations can easily affect perspective.