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To stop 'you know who,' let's join Obama and stop saying his name


Donald Trump believes there's no such thing as bad publicity. Maybe he's right.

If you are like me, you had hoped or fantasized that every media outlet would decrease their coverage of criminal Donald Trump, especially as he continues his trial for 34 felony counts in hush money payments meant to interfere with the 2016 election.

And yet, like he wrote in his book, “Art of the Deal,” there is “no such thing as bad publicity.” And there is no better expert in riding this fundamental truth for his entire life. The media is now even more filled with time devoted to Trump than perhaps even when or certainly since he was president. It’s enough to cause me to turn off all media and join many of you in asking: How do we stop this onslaught of Trump 24/7 coverage even as we’re experiencing a first-time criminally indicted president?

Then, I recently watched former President Barack Obama, who never ceases to amaze in his statesman-level simplicity. He presented the obvious solution right in front of us and those who join him in wishing Trump expunged from our democracy and our daily thoughts. Often, many of us are awed by what Obama says and how he says it. What is most striking is actually what he didn’t say. What President Obama didn’t say in his remarks is Donald Trump by name.

During his appearance for a March 2024 fundraiser at Radio City in New York City and several appearances campaigning for President Biden’s re-election, Obama did not refer to Trump by name, only as “GOP nominee,” “opponent” or the “other guy.”

So, it got me thinking. By not saying Donald Trump’s name, Barack Obama is marginalizing him as the insurrectionist, treasonous and four-time criminally indicted candidate who is unworthy of ever being mentioned in the same breath as the presidency ever again.

And, what if the rest of us stopped saying the other guy’s name, too? What if we carried this habit through to not ever clicking on stories, watching coverage, or reading posts that contain his name. It would underwhelm the click hungry coverage by “mainstream media” and disable the Meta algorithm feeding you even more posts with the GOP presumptive nominee’s name. If we took this simple collective action, it would get the notice of profit hungry media executives who will start to follow suit. Over time, his name, coverage, and influence of brand awareness will start to fade…and fast.

So, in this call for collective action to remove the indicted one from our lives, we should consider following President Obama’s lead by just omitting, replacing or never uttering the name Donald Trump again when referencing him. In our conversations about politics, social posts, election volunteer activities, and other communications, please consider replacing Trump with the reference: GOP nominee, GOP opponent or the other guy.

The real power over the other guy’s name and image lies in the hands, words, talk and votes of the people. Imagine the billions and trillions of ‘personal media’ impressions we create for the benefit of the former president, feeding the power of his belief in “no such thing as bad publicity.”

Just consider all the talking, listening, writing, and posting we collectively do where the GOP’s nominee name would disappear. Imagine the billions of conversations with family and friends about the presidential election and never saying his name. Imagine the amount of people you know who would be inspired by this act, see the power, and join the movement! The former president’s name would all but disappear, first in symbolism and then, hopefully to the dustbin of history. Or more likely, a jail cell.

And, while the mainstream news media may not be able to eliminate saying the GOP opponent’s name, they may notice if you stop clicking on or watching the news items that even have the other guy’s name in the headline. Trust me, as shareholder in this media company, clicks matter. If clicks lessen and the movement takes hold, the media will notice and follow. Afterall, why did so many residents of Trump-branded buildings, especially in New York, remove the family name from their buildings? Omission works.

The power of a democracy is found in the very people who make it up. Not in the news media. Not the technology that powers social media. Not even the candidates themselves. Together, we can stop his name from entering our minds, words, and voices. The other guy knows branding. He knows the power and value, even if inflated. Let’s deflate his brand now. It will feel good. It will do good. And, after practicing the habit, I have a feeling you will sleep better, especially after Election Day in November 2024.

Michael Dru Kelley is a cofounder and a principal LGBTQ+ shareholder of equalpride, publisher of The Advocate. His opinion pieces represent his own viewpoints and not necessarily those of equalpride, or its affiliates, partners, or management.

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