Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Political Marketing & Branding (part III)

Marketing & Branding You Can Believe In!

The ascension of Obama represents the triumph of marketing and branding, over political discourse and decisions centered on a critical assessment of the true consequences of policies and philosophies. Where more Americans willing or able to look beyond charisma and catch phrases, they would be horrified by the unintended, long term consequences engendered by the policies of the Obama Administration. This should be especially true for progressives who rightly criticized GW Bush for his corporate cronyism and imperialist foreign policy, yet are for the most part reticient about Obama's commitment to similar policies. So, what should voters who care more about consequences than charisma do?

The 1st thing is to simply ignore the empty phrases that drive political marketing. "Change We Can Believe In" tells us no more about policies than "Coke Is It" tells us about a high fructose, carbonated beverage. And the eloquence and charm of Obama tells us no more about the merit of his policies than the antics of Ronald McDonald tells us about the quality of mass produced burgers. And conversely, McCain's uninspiring and incoherent campaign told us nothing about the relative merit of his economic policies, it simply revealed the incompetence of Republican marketers and political strategists. This is hardly a reason to vote for or against a candidate.

Second, do not base your support of a policy or politician on the demographics of their followers. The fact that my habits are thoroughly blue, does not mean that I can't vote red. Just because I choose cappuccinos over Coors and Nabokov over Nascar doesn't mean that I can't vote for conservative candidates.

Once we go beyond marketing and branding and focus on action, we can explore the relative merits of different political and economic visions. Few of the critics of free markets and limited government possesses even a rudimentary understanding of them. The disastrous effect of GW Bush's domestic and foreign policies reflect on conservative philosophies, no more than Obama's expansion of the war in Afghanistan reflect on liberal philosophies. Read up on history, economics and philosophy; all of this "change we can believe in" has been unsuccessfully tried in the past in this and other nations. In FDR's Folly, Jim Powell presents a compelling argument that President Roosevelt's policies greatly extended the Great Depression. This is of paramount importance, because many of policies and programs that the Obama Administration have undertaken are virtually carbon copies of the the Roosevelt Administration's. Go a step further and seek to answer the questions of what cultural, constitutional and economic factors allowed the United States to become the most free and prosperous nation in the history of the world. And if you, like many progressives, believe the United States to be an overwhelmingly racist and oppressive nation, explore the past and present of other nations.

Next we should disregard the intentions of policies and focus directly on the unintended consequences. Who doesn't want all Americans to have access to affordable, universal health care? The reason why so many people opposed the health care reform plan was the realization that it would accelerate the growth of our massive national debt, while offering dubious benefits. And never forget that the worth or worthlessness of a policy is not determined by the good intentions or even the intelligence of a leader and their followers. Obama's campaign inspired millions of Americans to work towards a better tomorrow, yet over the long run his policies will burden future generations with a lower living standard via endless debt, crushing taxation and general economic stagnation.

Last but not least, hold so called conservative politicians to the fire. No one deserves greater derision that the politicians who utilize conservative marketing yet spend like socialists and wage war like imperialists. Such politicians have sullied the name of conservatism. Do not put party above good policy; so called conservative commentators like Sean Hannity, who attack Obama, yet remained uncritical of Bush's fiscal irresponsibility have done great harm to conservatives. Many people are hopelessly entranced by liberal marketing and will never be open to sound conservative principles. Yet, there are many people who are in the "conservative closet"; they are aghast at the corporate welfare and continuous warfare that the Obama Administration has engaged in, yet the awful marketing and branding of the Republican Party has made it impossible for them to identify themselves as and vote as conservatives. It's time for new marketing, it's time for you to come out of the conservative closet and work together to achieve real change that will ensure that our children and grandchildren will enjoy peace and prosperity for generations to come.

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