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Dr. Marc J. Yacht: Democrats – Where are you?

Any politician or campaign manager understands that any “NYEWS” for a candidate is good “NYEWS.” That being the case, Donald Trump proves the argument.

In spite of complaints about Trump’s position on most issues, the “mouth with the do” tops the polls of Republican contenders – by a large margin. One cannot imagine his camp is displeased with his current stature and they most likely stay up nights constructing another outrageous comment from The Donald.

Although Republican leadership is grumbling about their inability to wrest Trump from the catbird seat, their suggested displeasure rings hollow. The Republicans have become the only political show in town. The mass media follows Trump, Carson, Rubio and even the laggard Jeb Bush like lemmings.

The Koch brothers couldn’t afford the attention provided the Republicans of late with no end in sight.

What’s a poor Democratic candidate to do for some attention and respect?  Hillary who? Wasn’t she in Benghazi?  Didn’t she invent email?  Sorry, that was Al Gore.  And Bernie Sanders, doesn’t he sell fried chicken? Or is he the one who looks like a chicken. No, that was the late Arthur Perdue.

It is difficult to pick up a major newspaper without seeing Trump’s ugly mug insulting somebody. The rest of the Republicans capture headlines by complaining about him. I doubt there is a place on the planet where a human hasn’t heard of Donald Trump. Even world leaders cannot resist castigating Trump’s trash talk. The voters are eating it up.

Perhaps the Democrats feel the Republicans will crash and burn from all the  infighting. They have been quiet and on the sidelines watching the show like everyone else. That is until a voter database glitch led the Democratic National Committee late last week to cut the Sanders campaign’s access to the party’s voter information. In any case, Democrats had better start walking and talking – better yet, running – or life will pass them by.

The marketers of any product know how important name recognition is. When I look for tissue paper, I ask where the “Kleenex” is. If I want a candy bar I ask for “Hershey.” When I search for a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, I ask for the “Whitman’s Sampler.” Name recognition sells and more importantly for politicos, secures votes.

I am sure that Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy would have had little trouble getting elected because people will remember the name but too few will remember the circumstances that provided that recognition. Trump’s team understands well that few people will remember what he says now but no one will forget that handle.

There are many down-ballot names unknown to voters when they enter the booth on Election Day, races for judgeships for example. Candidates know that many will vote because they like the sound of the name, or it is familiar. The vote is cast with little or no knowledge of the candidate. All voters are guilty.

The public is well aware, though, that candidates are playing for votes and are apt to say anything. However, the citizens expect sensible action should that person be elected.

There’s one outstanding example, though, where name recognition is working against a candidate: Jeb Bush, who can gain little or no traction with the electorate. Although many would outwardly support George W. Bush’s eight years as president, few would want a repeat performance. Jeb can’t shake that connection.

Democrats need some attention. They’re on the sidelines and that is the worst place to be when running for office. The Republicans are reaching out to whoever will listen. The Democrats are isolating themselves within their own party and are not capturing the needed media attention.

As the announcer says at the Indy 500 brickyard: Democrats, (you better) START YOUR ENGINES!

Marc J. Yacht, M.D., M.P.H., a retired physician, lives in Pasco County, Florida.  Column courtesy of Context Florida.  

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