“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves to be made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
- Douglas Adams
Every four years, America holds the world’s most obnoxious and grandiose marketing campaign. We call it the Presidential Election.
In the restaurant business, the product drives whatever mania surrounds an eating establishment. Restaurants with a can’t-miss promotion and marketing campaign will initially bring in tons of customers and hype, but if the food taste like something that homeless people would turn down, that hype will eventually die down and customers are bound to stop showing up. It isn’t so with Presidential campaigns. The marketing and promotion for these candidates is top notch. They spend millions of dollars on advertisements and the like to keep their name in the headlines and on the tongues of media members. These candidates do such a remarkable job of selling themselves there’s no wonder why people believe in them. Unfortunately, with all the attention on the tactics and strategy, the product that these candidates have been producing over the years gets ignored for more intriguing plots like Donald Trump’s impact on Romney’s chances. If we devoted some time to critically analyze candidates from this election (and elections past) we will quickly find that the product they are offering this country can best be described as crap on crap on crap (crap).
Once you have declared yourself a presidential candidate, every move you make becomes a tactical decision. The countless decisions you have made in the past will be scrutinized and are bound to be taken totally out of context. You and your campaign staff must carefully map out your campaign strategy; which group of voters should we target? Should we run as populists? Conservatives? Environmentalists? What do we know about the other candidates? Are they gay? Racist? Catholic? Divorced? How does my hair look? Does this suit make my butt look big? Who will willingly contribute donations to my campaign? Which demographic should we mobilize? How do we deal with the 99% hippies? And on and on.
Once you throw your name out there, life becomes public property to be dissected, analyzed and scrutinized. On this platform, the candidate is expected to market proposed policies and demonstrate his/her remarkable character. Presidential candidates are selling themselves to the American public for the purpose of garnering votes and capturing the most coveted gig among aspiring politicians.
There is nothing inherently wrong about this process, but when you throw conniving, power-hungry, manipulative people into the mix, everything is wrong about this process.
About a month ago, Mitt Romney famously said, “I am not concerned about the poor,” in an interview on CNN. Mr. Romney, don’t you know that as a product that the American people are comparing to other deplorable products we are following you closer then Brian Windhorst follows Lebron James? We won’t delve into his comments about the poor being A-OK because the government gives them more than enough help (HAHAHAHAHA… its not good laughing I’m laughing), there isn’t enough time for that.
Even during a time when the economy is in worse shape than Boris Diaw (is it really? 30 secs of commercial time during the Superbowl costs a whopping $3.5 million. Holiday shopping numbers continue to set records) Romney’s GOP nomination status hasn’t even taken a considerable hit. Romney isn’t itching for the poor people’s vote and that’s because poor people generally don’t vote. Scratch that. Poor people do vote, but they, like most of the population, are easily manipulated and fall for anything persons of importance say. It is also important to note that poor people generally aren’t responsible for nominating the GOP candidate. If poor people did vote, no candidate would be caught saying a sound bite that dismisses America’s underserved so blatantly. This is marketing my friends, you tailor your message to the people who swarm the poll when election time rolls around, not to the people who don’t (but definitely should) care about politics. If Romney wins the GOP nomination and faces off against Obama-rama later this year, best believe we’ll be hearing about his blasé dismissal of poor people, and best believe he will be reneging his comments. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about poor people… unless it hurts his election chances.
Politics and elections are all about marketing and public relations. These concepts are all about manipulating public perception. Marketing is a blend of truth and hyperbole in the name of persuasion. With the presidential election, the process doesn’t offer much truth. It does promise new beginnings, it gives us reason to look forward to the future. The process is cringe-worthy because candidates play to our aspirations as a country- low unemployment, rejuvenated economy, troops returning home- while never actually meaning what they say. Every four years (two for the House, six for the Senate) we are left with the kool-aid seeping out of the corner of our mouths as these candidates are never held accountable for the grandiose promises they made on the campaign trail.
The marketing isn’t limited to the challenging candidates, the incumbent must be marketing his brand as well. If you haven’t been paying attention you could have easily missed Obama’s well timed assassination of Osama Bin Laden, or the Departmentof Labor declaring that the jobless rate has dropped to 8.3 percent as the private sector added 243,000 new jobs in January. And of course rising gas prices around the country can’t be Mr. President’s fault (I bet you if gas prices were falling it would be 100% Obama’s fault).
Obama was compelled to bring a majority of the troops home from Iraq because he had to come through on at least one campaign promise. If he didn’t, pundits would see no reason to keep him in office (never mind that Iraq is as stable as the Jets locker room and things will definitely get ugly over there once American troops are out. We are the ones who caused the regional unrest from the beginning anyway. Never group people together who don’t like each other and ask them to live peacefully under one regime. It didn’t start well, and it won’t end well. And we wonder why there are terrorists devoted to destroying America).
Marketing’s primary focus is the glorification of the product. What gets our attention and draws us to the product is the appearance of the virtues that we covet as a culture. When we turn on our television to CNN or Fox News or any of the news stations they’re constantly talking about the strategy, tactics and political maneuvering of the candidates. The quality of the product/candidates is throw-in as an afterthought, like its inconsequential. We’d rather hear about what Rick Santorum is doing to garner votes in New Hampshire then what his stance is on the expanding power of the presidency.
Politics has murdered the man of reason and common sense. Obama’s political advisors have effectively told him that good policy is bad politics. They are saying that all those promises Obama made on the campaign trail are not to be fulfilled if he wants to be reelected. Wait a second… what?
I admit I am rather unyielding in my criticism of America’s political leaders, but when you are the president of a country, the people who you lead have to be tenacious in their critique of your performance. Being a good president is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but that doesn’t give anyone a pass. The people of America should be holding whoever is in that position to the highest of standards. Doing what is right isn’t always going to be popular. You can either do what is right, or do what is going to get you reelected; they are seldom one in the same. People will be disgruntled and upset, but as a leader it is imperative that you have the vision and foresight to see beyond the times and the individual’s provincial wants.
Let us turn our attention to another presidential hopeful, Ron Paul. If elections mattered to me, I’d think about voting for Paul (emphasis on think), if only because he talks about issues no other candidates would dare touch. A couple weeks ago in South Carolina, Paul told a news anchor that the United States foreign policy should be synonymous with the Golden Rule (no, not that Golden Rule, the other one: do unto others…). The wonderful, thoughtful people of South Carolina booed him. They booed the Golden Rule! These are conservative republicans who treat the Bible like God him/her/itself wrote it. These are people who supposedly are devout Christians and believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. Yet they don’t support a candidate who believes the Golden Rule should be the guiding principle of US foreign policy. What the eff? (I promised Momma Campbell that I’d quit cussin’ so much.)
Fellow Wannabe Writer K.V. Sart suggested that some outstanding news outlet should hold a debate that uses actors to represent the candidates based on their past activities. Voting history, personal decisions, former and current relationships, congressional and executive transcripts of debates they have had while in government, and bills introduced, vetoed, or signed into law are just a few of the historical tools that can be used in this debate. The representing actors can only answer questions based on how the candidates have behaved in the past. “The Real Fake Presidential Debate” will paint a more accurate picture of who the American people are voting for. No hiding behind statistics, no promises that drift away from their principles (if they even have any), and no tailoring messages to the electorate. It’ll bring us much closer to the truth than whatever balderdash the candidates are offering nowadays.
Aside from the high comedy such a spectacle would surely produce, it would be 10x more accurate then the quarter-true, propagandized positions these candidates float into our national discussion every day. This is a situation where no one would be able to hide behind promises and guarantees designed to mislead American voters.