The Republican Party (nicknamed the GOP or Grand Old Party) Presidential primary is coming to a close after Rick Santorum announced yesterday that he was suspending his presidential campaign. He did not however endorse the front-runner Mitt Romney who has all but won the nomination ( Newt Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race until the end) as the Republican presidential candidate which will be officially announced at the Republican National Party convention in Tampa Bay, Florida from the 27 to the 30 of August, 2012 .
One of my political scientist students who has been following the campaign very closely asked me why Mitt Romney was being called the “Sketch an Etch” candidate. I quickly corrected him and told him the correct nickname was “Etch A Sketch” candidate.
Etch a Sketch is a classic American toy which has been around since 1960 when it was introduced at the peak of the Baby Boom (those who were born during the 50’s after WWII). It quickly became a big hit as it allowed parents to give their kids something to play with in the back seat of a car (before DVD players and iPads, etc.) during a long road trip. It was actually invented by a French designer called Andre Cassagnes who named it L’Ecran Magique, or “the Magic Screen.” But the Americans at Ohio Art bought it and came up with a new name called “Etch A Sketch” or the mechanical drawing tablet. It became one of the best loved toys of the 60s generation and symbolic of that era.
It just proved to me how words and brand names can be transformed in order to describe how people are perceiving the evolution of an event. Political campaigns are so passionate and heated that political pundits and commentators are forever inventing new words in order to give an accurate account of what is happening. In previous elections, the term “to waffle” (to speak vaguely giving the impression of agreeing with two contradictory opinions…kind of like employing “doublethink” a term coined by George Orwell in the novel 1984) became synonymous with forever changing opinions about issues. One of the former democratic presidential nominees, John Kerry, became famous as a notorious “waffler”: Being a political campaigner and trying to appeal to the masses means “flip flopping” on all the issues which gives a lot of fodder to talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh who is known for their ultra conservative and sometimes inflammatory opinions. Now a Romney adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, has declared that Romney’s campaign will now change as he heads for the Fall campaign: “You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.” Kind of like life…when you make a mistake you just sort of shake things up and start all over again…!