Trump vs. Hillary: Sometimes the Best Person Doesn’t Win

In my doctoral program, I was required to engage in a project I didn’t much like. In fact, I didn’t like it so much that I almost left school over it. It involved counting words in texts and comparing the counts. The project didn’t require knowing the meaning of the words — just counting them.

Being a “deeper meaning” kind of wonk, I resented taking all that time for what seemed a superficial enterprise — but I learned something. I learned that sometimes there’s a message at the most superficial level, and it’s important to pay attention to that message too. I’ve used that word counting technique many times since those days.

One of the times I used it is just recently, to analyze the home pages of the two 2016 presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. What I found startled me, and I was dismayed. It also explained a lot to me about how a lying, dangerous demagogue can attract such a following in this country.

The campaign pages change almost daily at this point, but at the time I checked, here’s what I found. Trump is a brilliant content marketer. If he wins, it will be his content marketing that wins this campaign. Hillary, or those who work on her behalf, are not as skilled at messaging.

Let’s not make the mistake, as I did in the course of my doctoral program, of saying that’s just a superficial thing, and it has no meaning. It has meaning, and the meaning might determine the course of this election.

I will highlight three items: branding, framing the other candidate, and vision.

Branding. OK, here’s where the word count comes in. I counted the number of times the Trump name appears on Trump’s page and the number of times Hillary’s name appears there. I performed the same exercise on Hillary’s page. I used Trump’s last name because that is what he has chosen as his brand. I used Hillary’s first name because that is her brand.

Trump mentions his own name 15 times on the page. Hillary appears three times, not as “Hillary,” her brand, but as Hillary Clinton. “Clinton” is used by itself two more times. The Hillary brand does not appear. Branding — “Hillary” gets 0% of the coverage on Trump’s page. If we use the appearances as part of “Hillary Clinton,” she gets 20% of the web real estate on Trump’s home page. The Trump brand dominates.

Hillary mentions her brand name five times. “Hillary Clinton” appears three times. The Trump name appears five times, four as “Donald Trump,” not the branded name, and one in the sign before the fold, “Love trumps hate.” If we count those appearances just as we did Hillary Clinton on his page, Trump gets just as much name real estate on Hillary’s home page as she does.

Framing. When Hillary’s name appears on Trump’s home page, it is framed by keywords that shape her image in the way the Trump campaign wants to shape it: losing, untrustworthy, failed foreign policy. Headlines tell us in bold caps, “L.A. TIMES/USC DORNSIFE POLL: TRUMP 47%, CLINTON 40%.” Next we see, “DONALD TRUMP TELLS VETERANS HILLARY CLINTON CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO OVERHAUL VA.” And finally, “OWNING THE 3RD TERM: OBAMA-CLINTON’S FAILED FOREIGN POLICY UNLEASHED ISIS, TERRORISM & SUFFERING.” Did we get the message here?

Trump is not effectively or memorably framed on Hillary’s page with one exception. Here are the contexts: “We put Hillary Clinton’s resume side by side with Donald Trump’s…” Yes, and? “Donald Trump got one thing right during his terrifying RNC speech…” A little better thanks to the almost incidental use of one keyword, “terrifying.” “Get the facts about Donald Trump and the 2016 election…” Why on earth would anyone who hasn’t already formulated an opinion go to Hillary’s website for the facts about Trump? Why not use the facts in short, pithy, memorable terms, to frame Trump on the home page? Let them link to the full post?

And finally, we have the financial attribution at the bottom of the page: “Paid for by Hillary for America, a grassroots campaign of 1.5 million donors committed to electing Hillary Clinton (and keeping Donald Trump out of the White House).” And why would we want to do that? Did the page tell us? No, so again, the Trump name uses up valuable real estate without framing.

Now the exception. “Love trumps hate.” It’s memorable. It’s lower case (diminishing Trump). It makes the point. It presents Trump’s name above the fold, but the power of the message probably makes up for that.

Vision. The biggest problem with Hillary’s home page is that it fails to present a vision, and this indeed is one of her major campaign flaws. Bernie Sanders commented on this issue at the end of his campaign. She cannot be the lesser of two evils; she must provide a vision for the country. I’ll come back to that in a moment. For now, let’s look at the details of the home page that make this problem clear.

Trump’s website above the fold provides us with an energy-filled picture from the RNC convention, bold red, white and blue balloons filling the picture along with Trump’s family on stage. The contribution form to the left proclaims, “America is Back
I am Your Voice.” To the right, we see this message: “It’s a very exciting time for America. Your voices represent a bright new future for our great nation full of more opportunities for everyone, not just a select few. Together, we have created a movement that continues to gain momentum. Together, we are making history. Together, we are bringing back the American Dream. The time is now. Together, we WILL Make America Great Again!”

On first coming to the page, above the fold, we know the vision Trump wants to project through keywords: excitement, energy, movement, momentum, opportunities for everyone (not just a select few), making history, bringing back the American Dream, together. Finally, we get Trump’s well-known, therefore memorable, slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Notice those keywords. Where have we heard “movement,” “opportunities for everyone,” “select few,” “voice,” “making history” and “together” before? Trump steals them from the Democrats, effectively speaking not only to his own but to unwary others.

Before the convention, Hillary’s campaign home page had no keywords or statements connected to her vision for America above the fold. Zero. Currently there are two pieces of content that start to edge in that direction: 1) “Love trumps hate,” which both frames Trump, as we have seen, and presents an alternative concept, love and 2) the “History made” button. In much smaller words, it says, “Stronger together.”

This is an improvement over the pre-convention page but in my opinion, not enough of one. Barak Obama wasn’t elected because he was black but because he presented a powerful vision of who we are and who we can be. Hillary Clinton will not be elected because she’s a woman. She must present a vision of who we are and who we can be that is inclusive, and that vision gets a start in the phrase, “Stronger together.” Our entry to the page, the material above the fold, doesn’t communicate effectively and strongly enough who Hillary is, what her vision is and that she is the person to work with us to fulfill it. What we know about her is that she is a woman, and she broke the glass ceiling. That’s meaningful to many but not to all she needs to attract, and it shouldn’t be enough for anyone.

The remainder of the page for both candidates shows a similar energy and sharp focus on the Trump home page and missed opportunities to do the same on Hillary’s home page. Every phrase and every caption on the Trump page hits hard to either frame Hillary or promote well-known Trump themes, well-known because they are presented through memorable slogans and hot button keywords. The captions on Hillary’s page are uninspired: “Jobs and wages…” What about them? What do we learn about Hillary from this header? “Immigration reform…” Yes? Trump is for immigration reform also.

Final words. Hillary wasn’t my choice of candidate, and she is flawed. I also know that she isn’t as flawed as what Trump and other Republicans manage to project in memorable slogans and words that way too many now accept as complete truth. Objective studies show that Hillary lies far less than all other candidates with the exception of Bernie and that Trump lies constantly. That’s the game of politics, though, and with regard to Hillary, Republicans play it better.

We can’t all be a Barak Obama with his extraordinary rhetorical ability to provide us with a vision. We can’t all be a Bernie Sanders with his very different way of engaging us in a vision. Hillary has a long record of doing things that improve lives, though. I appreciated the glimpse of that provided in the convention. I hear, not only from those on the stage last evening but from friends who know her, that she is personally warm and caring. She works hard, she has a lot of expertise, and she pushes hard to accomplish things on behalf of a platform that, for the most part, especially now that Bernie pushed for changes, I strongly support. I’m going to accept the flaws, and I’m going to accept that our leadership will not be as inspirational if she is elected.

But if she’s going to be elected, Hillary needs a team that works better on her behalf, a team that gets the opposition framed the way they must be and keeps them there. A team that presents a vision for America that inspires and engages people, that works for the people who will determine, in a way like never before, the future of this country.

So far they haven’t done that. In addition to browsing the candidates websites, yesterday I filled in the unsubscribe request for the DCCC. My email box is filled, multiple times every day, with emails that usually start with, “We’re livid,” or “We’re terrified,” or “It’s scary.” These emails requesting contributions have little valuable content, and they project a poor image: hysteria and incompetence. Democrats, we need to do better! While it’s important to point out factually and consistently the real dangers Trump presents, WE MUST PRESENT A VISION. That is what will win.

It’s time for Democrats to take back the words Trump stole from us in the opening to his home page. It’s time for us to weigh every word and every image we put out to be certain we communicate excitement, energy, movement, momentum, opportunities for everyone (not just a select few), making history, bringing back fulfilling the American Dream, together.

Let’s add one more concept, engagement or individual empowerment. As President Obama reminded us last night, we don’t need to be ruled by one person who will “fix” it — we need to shape our own future.

But we also need the campaign to do a better job of shaping Hillary’s message and projecting it on her behalf. They need to find the words and promote them expertly, consistently and massively. We need to know what Hillary represents for America ABOVE the fold and everywhere else that we connect with the campaign, and we need a sharp, unhysterical contrast with Trump.

If the campaign does its part, and if we do ours, and we elect Hillary, we will get part of our progressive agenda now instead of the world a dangerous demagogue promises to create for us.

And then we have an opportunity to fulfill that vision, because the words won’t mean much without results. If we elect Hillary and she succeeds with us in fulfilling some part of the Democratic platform, if more people experience the benefits of living in America, then we can hope for a truly progressive administration next time.

CSA Veggie Yummies This Week

Hummus with radishes, kohlrabi, zucchini & red bell peppers.
Hummus with radishes, kohlrabi, zucchini & red bell peppers.

I had two social occasions last week so took Hummus with CSA veggies to one (greens, radishes, kohlrabi, zucchini and red bell peppers) and pasta salad to the other. This Hummus recipe, btw, is excellent. Be sure to check it out on this site.

For this pasta salad, I used (as always) whole wheat rotini, zucchini, tomatoes, chopped greens, Kalamata olives, capers, green onions, quartered artichoke hearts, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, hot paprika and salt to taste.

Pasta salad with CSA veggies.
Pasta salad with CSA veggies.

And then we enjoyed this wonderful Stir Fry for an at-home meal. I like to make a big bag of chopped greens for Fatoush early in the week when everything is beautifully fresh. I used some each day, and later in the week, I can start using what remains for a quick and easy stir fry. I also use up lots of greens — tops of radishes or kohlrabi in these dishes.

Stir Fry with Kohlrabi greens, Bok choy, green onions, radishes, lots of sliced onion, garlic, a bit of red bell pepper, sauteed tofu squares, brown Basmati rice, salt, hot paprika, extra virgin olive oil, a bit of soy sauce...mmm hmmm, can't beat that.
Stir Fry with Kohlrabi greens, Bok choy, green onions, radishes, lots of sliced onion, garlic, a bit of red bell pepper, sauteed tofu squares, brown Basmati rice, salt, hot paprika, extra virgin olive oil, a bit of soy sauce…mmm hmmm, can’t beat that.

Addendum: Ah – forgot all about this one. At the end of the week, I use up any leftover greens or other veggies in a soup. I used potatoes in this one as well and topped it off with quinoa, making it a nice, substantial dinner. This soup included a large onion, minced and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with a little fresh minced garlic, about 4 cups of potatoes and 8-10 cups of chopped greens (I’m pretty sure the greens included kohlrabi tops as well as others), 6 cups of water and seasoning to taste. I typically use salt (2 tsp.), hot paprika (1/2 tsp.) and freshly squeezed lemon (1/4-1/2 cup or the juice of 1-2 lemons. And now I know what they mean by “pot liquor.” Mmmm…mmmm…good.

Soup with greens and quinoa.
Soup with greens and quinoa.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Cold Summer Soups

Cold Cucumber Soup, upper right
Cold Cucumber Soup, upper right

You’re right, those aren’t all cold soups in the picture. In the Cafe, we used to serve two hot soups every day — Veggie Chili (upper left) and Red Lentil Soup (lower center). I tried and tried not to make them during the summer, but people still wanted them.

We also offered a Soup of the Day, and in the summer, it was often a cold soup. Two of our favorites were Cold Cucumber Soup and Cherry Soup. Here’s the Cold Cucumber Soup for those cucumbers that will soon start pouring in from the garden, and the Cold Cherry Soup follows.

VEGAN ALERT: These soups aren’t vegan. I haven’t yet found a happy replacement for *Labne, which is very thick. I’m sure vegan milk replacements would work, but I’ll have to redo the recipes one of these days to adjust for the thinner, sweeter milks.

COLD CUCUMBER SOUP

  • Cucumbers, 8, peeled and seeded
  • Onion, 1
  • Labne or Greek Yogurt, 1-2 cups
  • Salt, to taste

Boil the onion and cucumber until soft, puree and chill. When completely chilled, whisk in *Labne or Greek Yogurt, and salt to taste. When I made this soup, I preferred to use Labne and generally used the full two cups. Garnish with petite iced tomatoes, cucumber and chopped mint.

Cold Cherry Soup
Cold Cherry Soup

COLD CHERRY SOUP

  • White Grape Juice, 1 can frozen
  • Dried cherries, 1/2 cup
  • Almonds, 1 cup blanched
  • *Labne or Greek Yogurt, 1-2 cups
  • Fresh sweet cherries, 1 lb.

Add twice the required amount of water to the grape concentrate (6 cans). Bring to a boil with the dried cherries. Boil the almonds separately in water for 10 minutes, and peel them (or start with blanched/peeled almonds). Puree the almonds with some of the soup, chill all, and whisk in the Labne or Greek yogurt.

You can strain out the dried cherries to make mixing in the yogurt easier, then add them back. You can also cook the dried cherries in just 2 cups of grape juice, which will make it easier to chill the soup.

Garnish with pitted Sweet Cherries, cut in pieces.

*Labne is a Middle Eastern Yogurt “Spread”. One of the brands most often available locally (in the dairy section) is Dana. It is thicker than Greek yogurt, rich and creamy.

More CSA treats: Kohlrabi

070716_kohlrabi_stuffed_a

I’ve never done much with kohlrabi before, so it took some experimenting, but I had a couple of good things this week. First, here’s how I made my Stuffed Kohlrabi:

Remove the stems from 3-4 kohlrabi and fully peel away the tough outer layers of them. Set aside the greens.

Using a coring tool, insert into the center of the peeled kohlrabi, but do not pierce through to the base. You will probably not be able to remove the plug. Insert again, slightly out more toward the edge, again careful not to pierce the base. Continue this process, circling around the original central plug. Then, using a small serrated knife, remove the plugs and scrape a little to make the central cavity fairly smooth. Reserve what you remove from the kohlrabi.

Oil and salt the kohlrabis inside and out. Add a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven, place the kohlrabis cavity side down and saute until slightly browned. Turn the kohlrabis over onto its base, turn down the heat, add a little water (2-4 TB), put the lid on the Dutch oven, turn down the flame, and cook until the kohlrabis are tender. Set aside until ready to assemble.

KOHLRABI FILLING

Ingredients

  • Kohlrabi – inside pulp of 3-4 kohlrabi
  • Bok choy – stems, petite diced; greens, chopped 1/4″ pieces
  • Brown Basmati rice, 1 cup dried
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • Oregano, 1-1/2 tsp.
  • Lemon Juice, 1/2 squeezed

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice until done.
  2. Chop the kohlrabi pulp, and add to a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, and saute.
  3. Add the Bok Chop stems, petite diced, and saute briefly.
  4. Add the rice to a food processor, then the sauteed ingredients and seasonings.
  5. Pulse several times until the mixture is evenly mixed and chopped and looks like coarse grains.
  6. Add seasoning to taste (salt, a little hot paprika if desired)
  7. Use this mixture to fill the reserved kohlrabi.
  8. Add marinara to a dish, and place the stuffed kohlrabi on top of it. Add a little more marinara to the top, and a few garlic scapes for garnish.

Note: For a different flavor profile, try using my Matboukha for the sauce, and in the filling, replace oregano with za’atar (available in the Middle Eastern section of some stores).

070716_kohlrabi_stuffed_c

Now what to do with those tough kohlrabi greens? Read on…

(green_smoothie

The Bok choy greens are more tender than kohlrabi, so I used that for the Stuffed Kohlrabi filling, which doesn’t get much processing before it hits my teeth. Here’s what I did with the kohlrabi greens, though: I made my standard Greenie (green smoothie), and it was good! Even my non-green loving husband enjoyed it.

GREENIE (makes 2 16 oz. Greenies or more)

Ingredients

  • Ice cubes, 8-10
  • Apple juice, about 1/2 cup
  • Apple, 1/2 chunked
  • Banana, chunked
  • Pineapple, 6-8 chunks
  • 2-3 cups rough chopped kohlrabi (or any) greens*

Place the ice cubes in a Vitamix (a blender works almost as well). Add apple juice to 1 cup mark. Add apple chunks, banana chunks, pineapple chunks, and chopped greens. Process until smooth and delicious. More ice makes it thicker.

Note: Greens contain a natural toxin to prevent over-grazing and eradication of the plant. Just vary your greens — don’t use the same one all the time. Keep your fruits and other veggies light-colored so you’ll end up with an appetizing, bright green drink.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

One thing I love about my CSA

Stir fry of onion, Bok choy, radishes.
Stir fry of onion, Bok choy, radishes.

I love having a box of fresh veggies, many things that I don’t ordinarily get, then trying things out with them. Sometimes combinations surprise me! – like this Stir Fry of chopped onion, Bok choy stems, salad radishes (that’s the Julienne veggie) and Bok choy greens, added last. Add a bit of salt, a few drops of soy sauce if you wish, and oh, my, was it good!

Here’s a note about how I stir fry: I cut all the veggies first. I heat some extra virgin olive oil in a wok and often throw in a little minced garlic first. This time, I don’t believe I did. Then I add the onions, sauteeing until soft. Then I add the remaining “hard” veggies, most “hard” first, sauteeing for a few moments after each — reserving any greens. When the veggies start to brown a bit, I add a little salt and soy sauce, stir and cover if needed to steam the veggies for a couple of minutes.  Uncover and add the greens, stir together and sauté briefly until the greens are wilted, adjust seasoning, and serve.

I also made Fatoush with what I had on hand instead of the usual, and it, too, was delicious with a creamy vegan dressing:

FATOUSH

Ingredients

  • Mixed greens, any you have on hand or like. Bok choy and Butterhead Lettuce featured heavily in this one.
  • Garlic scapes
  • Green onion
  • Red cabbage (I usually use it but don’t see it here – must have forgotten)
  • Tomatoes – organic grape tomatoes, quartered
  • Radishes – organic, Julienne
  • Cucumbers – organic, sliced and quartered or Julienne
  • Pita – Whole wheat Lebanese pita, cut into squares and toasted
  • Sumac  to sprinkle

Ingredients for Sauce

  • Mayonnaise, 1 cup (I use Hampton Creek Just Mayo – vegan)
  • Tahina, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic, 1/2 – 1 clove mashed (opt.)
  • Salt, 1-2 tsp. (start with 1 tsp. for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)
  • Hot paprika, 1/4 tsp.
  • Lemon, freshly squeezed, 1/4-1/2 cup, to taste (start with 1/4 cup for dressing, add additional to salad after mixed)

Procedure

  1. Prepare salad ingredients: slice greens 1/8-1/4″, then cut across into 2-3″ pieces. Quarter grape tomatoes or petite dice plum tomatoes. Julienne cucumbers and radishes.
  2. Stack the pita pieces, cut through them lattice-work style so you end up with 1-2″ squares, roast in a 200 degree oven until crunchy, cool thoroughly and set aside or bag for later use. I like to use whole wheat Lebanese pita, available through a local Arab bakery. Lebanese pita is larger than pocket pita and thinner. Makes a great “crouton.” Stored properly, they keep for a long time once toasted and thoroughly dry.
  3. Make the dressing. For a vegan salad, use a vegan mayo. Your dressing should taste salty and lemony because by the time you add it to the salad with its moisture, it will lose some potency. I start a bit lighter on the seasoning, then add the remainder if needed when the salad is made up. You don’t need to use all the dressing at once — if you have leftover, just store in a covered jar.
  4. Put all salad ingredients into a bowl. Add toasted pita so you have 2 parts salad to 1 part pita. Add some dressing and a pinch or two of sumac (available in Middle Eastern stores and online), and mix gently but completely. Add more or less dressing to your liking.
  5. Sprinkle additional sumac over the salad and serve.

If you’d like more information about the CSA, please visit Bob’s Fresh and Local (produce) and All Grass Farms (livestock, chickens, milk and cheese).

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.