Seven Election Reflections
They held an election last week. Remember that? Most no longer care but they did then. What did they care about when they did care?
The vast majority cared only about whether the good guys won and the bad guys lost. They can’t tell Joni Ernst from Elizabeth Warren, but they fretted about the returns in Kansas and North Carolina.
$4 billion was spent solely for the purpose of beating three numbers: 50, 217 and 25, representing the majority of the Senate, the House and the state houses. For the record, the Republicans did – quite easily – and the Democrats didn’t – by a wide margin.
This led me to seven election reflections.
The Thursday Rule
Is it time for a Thursday Rule in politics?
I created the Thursday Rule some years ago when I was on the cusp of no longer caring about major spectator sports events. It works like this. Major sports events usually take place (or end) on Sunday or Monday evenings. If I can no longer remember the result on Thursday, the outcome probably didn’t matter beforehand.
Since elections happen on Tuesdays, the political version could be called the Saturday Rule.
Everyone is a Low Information Voter
I asked a political consultant if there was any downside to lying. She told me that nobody liked getting “six Pinocchio’s” (the measure of a truly outrageous lie), but otherwise… She trailed off. If there is no reason to tell the truth about yourself or your opponent, no voter knows anything about either one so everyone is a low information voter.
Partyism is the New Racism
It is now absolutely fine to discriminate against someone based solely on party. Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School named it and he has research to prove it. David Brooks thinks it is wrong. “In 1960, roughly 5 percent of Republicans and Democrats said they’d be ‘displeased’ if their child married someone from the other party. By 2010, 49 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats said they would mind.”
The Party Brands
Steven Pearlstein suggested that the Democrats needed to stand by their brand. It is not clear why he didn’t think the Republicans needed to stand by theirs but presumably if it is right for one party it is right for the other.
According to Pearlstein, “‘Building a brand is telling a clear, credible and compelling story about what you’ve done and what you are going to do,’ explains David Srere, chief strategy officer at Siegel + Gale, another leading brand consultancy. ‘It says that come hell or high water, this is what we are going to be about.’ It’s the simple, enduring idea that cuts through the escalating noise in the marketplace, overcomes the rampant cynicism among consumers and allows companies to recover from the inevitable bad luck of missteps.”
Seems to me the concept of the brand as applied to political parties cheapens the idea.
What if the parties had actual governing philosophies and cared about them? Then those could be dumbed down to being brands. Tough to have the latter without the former.
Data and Leadership
David Brooks laments, “Data-driven candidates sacrifice their own souls. Instead of being inner-directed leaders driven by their own beliefs, they become outer-directed pleasers driven by incomplete numbers.”
The candidates are theoretically seeking leadership positions in which voters might follow them rather than vice versa. (I say theoretically because House members and Senators are actually running for the job of fund raising telemarketer.)
How is anyone leading anything if they are only telling people what they are being told by number crunchers the people want to hear?
Nobody knows what was on his mind. Maybe he didn’t give a damn.
David Krone, Chief of Staff to soon-to-be-former Majority Leader, Harry Reid, said “we were beating our heads against the wall” when he described efforts to work on the election with the White House.
I have nothing to add to that.
Lucky We Don’t Have a Parliament
If the United States had the same system as Great Britain or Japan, the government would have fallen and President Obama would have resigned.
We don’t but the leaders of the Democratic Party, who are presently in a circular firing squad, might well wish that the President would at least cease any role in their plans for 2016.