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?

The President

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.

 

2 Responses to “Seven Election Reflections”

Rob, November 09, 2014 at 11:09 pm said:

In total agreement although: (1) if we had a parliamentary system we would have Obama for a long time as he wins whenever he actually runs; and (2) it doesn’t make much difference anyway since the government is owned by the 700 individuals & institutions who make 60 % of the contributions (bribes) or the slightly larger group that make 98%. The rest of us need not bother to wait until Thursday or Saturday to decide no one is interested in our collective opinion.

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Haven Pell, November 10, 2014 at 12:15 am said:

Rob, if we had a parliamentary system the leader of the party holding a majority of the seats in the legislature would become the prime minister. Since both House and Senate are held by the Republicans, presumably the President would not ascend to such an office. Unless of course he was designated to do so by the Republicans. I offer no rebuttal to the characterization of contributions as bribes.

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