Our top-rated list of overused campaign slogans in this general election


Words like “vibrant” “proven leader” “inclusive leader” with “bold solutions” and a “progressive vision” top the list of warm and fuzzy generalities

Each election cycle, the successful campaigns for Mayor and City Council spend tens of thousands on campaign mailers. It’s not just postage and printing they pay for but marketing expertise in crafting the contents–clever twists of phrase and generic rallying cries. It’s the art of making the candidate look good by speaking in generalities that trigger feel-good responses from voters while saying nothing of substance.  The problem with offering specifics is that invariably it ticks off somebody or even whole voting blocks.  You could lose more than you gain and, then, darn it, it becomes more difficult to switch or tailor positions to your audience.

Indeed this messaging and direct mails to get that message out are critically important. In this era where voters get their information from multiple media sources, it’s just not possible for a candidate to reach every voter. Direct mail likely is the only exposure most voters will get to a candidate before casting their ballot.  Saturation also is a key because… well, it works… raising a boatload of cash to blanket every regular voter with “encomiums to yourself. ”

We wrote about this topic before the primary, but we just couldn’t resist returning to it, given how unenlightening yet endlessly entertaining most of the messaging has been coming from candidates advancing to the finals.  So for all you election watchers, here’s some of our favorite warm and fuzzy slogans guaranteed to inspire you and capture your vote.  But…..Whatever you do, don’t expect any specifics that might reveal where the candidates actually stand: 

“I am a proven civic leader with a clear progressive vision, courage and independence to tackle the big problems so everyone can thrive.”

“Proven experience to build a Seattle that is affordable, sustainable, and welcoming to all”.

(He/she) “has proven to be a progressive fighter, a fierce advocate for civil rights, and an inclusive leader, and (she/he) will continue this incredible work”

“I’m running to confront Seattle’s challenges and I’ll bring bold concrete solutions forward.”

“I’ll make sure our economy remains robust while offering solutions that ensure our neighborhoods remain vibrant and affordable to all.”

“I’m running to make sure our city leadership puts people first, and our politics reflect our shared values.”

Meanwhile candidates strive to find the right image for their mailers. For some it is head up, a hand raised and finger pointed forward. Or they’re at a podium, clenched fist raised, eyes and face as confident and solid as the rock of Gibraltar.  Family shots are good too; you, spouse or partner, and the kids, with space needle in the background.  No kids? Bring in the nieces and nephews or better yet rent a classroom and show yourself surrounded by first graders reading ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’

In other cases, the candidate is seated over coffee, addressing a fawning but strategically diverse group of supporters. Then there’s the “rugged outdoors” shot. Perhaps they’re hiking,  or better yet, squeezed into a kayak looking ready for whitewater (making sure the person holding onto the kayak is carefully positioned off-camera).

And here’s a good boilerplate stump speech; an amalgam of the many cliches generally packed into a such things.  All future candidates for office are welcome to borrow any of the following since it’s sure to get you elected–provided of course you’ve got a few hundred grand and a “PAC” or two helping get your message to every voter (at least 3 or 4 times).

As a proven and experienced leader, I am committed to keeping Seattle affordable for all – including finding innovative solutions that serve the poor, working and middle class families. On growth, I’ll fight for dense vibrant transit-oriented, sustainable, and walkable neighborhoods. I’ll make sure neighborhoods, small businesses, renters and homeowners all have a seat at the table when key decisions are made upstream affecting Seattle’s future.

I’ll champion working families and push for more livable wage jobs. I have the skills and expertise to help Seattle fight back against Trump. We will deliver basic services that make Seattle work for everyone. I’ll work to reduce property taxes for struggling seniors.

I’ll make our communities safer with effective solutions to law enforcement. We’ll have bias-free policing and improved public safety. What we need is a pioneering and skilled progressive like myself who’s ready to meet and solve these and other challenges that come with being a leading city on the vanguard of change.

I have a long track record bringing groups together and I will listen to everyone. Growth is coming and I have the experience to tackle effectively the challenges that come with more growth. The solution to our lack of affordable housing is to build more housing and create dense walkable cities. HALA is a good thing but I’ll do more to ensure good design and make sure citizens have a say. Transit-oriented pedestrian-friendly development is key. Yes I have plan to end the war within six months of taking office. Vote for me and I’ll set you free etc etc etc.

It’s not that difficult putting this stuff together,  because we cribbed darn near all of it from materials and statements circulated by our current crop of candidates. And geez, in a few places we came perilously close to saying something substantive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see them “drill down” for a change, and offer real solutions on their mailers? Stuff they’d do to make a difference in this city? Alas, we doubt their highly paid campaign consultants would approve.


About John V. Fox

Director, Seattle Displacement Coalition
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