Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Democrats SUCK ... at Marketing

"What we have here is a failure to communicate", as the oft repeated phrase goes, precisely characterizes the messaging capabilities of the Democratic party. For the many years that I have been closely following politics, one of the many observations that I have made is that Republicans are GREAT at Marketing/Messaging/Communicating/Campaigning yet SUCK at actually governing, while Democrats SUCK at Marketing/Messaging/Communicating/Campaigning but are GREAT at governing. Republicans do an excellent job of communicating to and rallying their mostly single-minded base while the much wider tent Democrats struggle to communicate a common message and rallying cry to their more diversely thinking base.

In life, business, and politics it is often not enough to simply do a good job. You also have to be able to effectively COMMUNICATE and SAY that you've done a good job in order for people to take notice. That is a short coming of the Democratic party. They seem to think it is enough to simply do good works and the keenly aware people will notice and sing their praises. Nothing could be further from the truth. Democrats do a horrible job of communicating their accomplishments. Simply speaking, the Democrats need a new transmission on their "Messaging Machine".

In what was already expected to be a rough election cycle for  Democrats based on historical patterns of past midterm elections combined with the unacceptably high unemployment rate, the Democrats "failure to communicate" made a bad situation worse. Dems had a strong record of accomplishments to run on, but did a horrific job of emphasizing and running on that list of accomplishments. (Here's a long list ... excuse the language ...). At the time that Obama took office, there was a VERY REAL possibility of the 2nd Coming of the Great Depression. Though highly politically unpopular, most Economists agree that the bailouts of the financial institutions WORKED and prevented the entire US economic system from spiraling downwards rapidly. Incidentally, those same "bailouts" were actually a LOAN and were paid back WITH INTEREST by the at-risk major financial institutions.

Last week, the iconic General Motors Corporation had an enormously successful IPO after staring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy directly in the face merely a few months earlier. Though Republicans fought hard against a government "bailout" of GM. criticized Democrats for "getting into the car business", and were seemingly just fine with the loss of over a million jobs in the pioneering US auto industry, President Obama and the Democrats stepped in and LOANED  the necessary funds to GM, and ONCE AGAIN IT WORKED !! Democrats had this major success story of saving the US Auto Industry to run on as well but inexplicably didn't seem to make that a focal point of their 2010 "Marketing Campaign". Completely running from and hiding from a Healthcare bill that they fought for for over a year would take an entire blog post for me to rip apart the Dems on that, but that is yet another MAJOR accomplishment that Democrats failed to effectively communicate to the voting public.

With every defeat, there comes a lesson. With a defeat the size of the one that the Democrats took at the hands of the Republicans in the midterm elections, there should be a WHOLE LOT of lessons to learn from. One of the major lessons that the  Democrats should take from their "shellacking", is that if you fail to effectively communicate and tell your compelling story, your opponent will effectively tell a tall tale for you. And you won't like what they have to say.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Support the Troops by BRINGING THEM HOME !!

Yep, it's that time of year again !! It seems that about once or twice a year, typically around Veteran's Day or Memorial Day, Americans SERIOUSLY think about the debt of gratitude owed to the young men and women who put their lives on the line daily to fight for US interests, regardless of whether or not they agree with the policies in place. War is HELL and these brave souls are thrust into the middle of it daily, while VERY FEW people ACTUALLY give 15 seconds of thought to what they truly endure on a daily basis.

I wholeheartedly believe that if more Americans had FIRST HAND knowledge of the brutalities of war, there would a lot less Americans who support ongoing war efforts. It is extremely easy to sit back in one's Congressional office, behind one's radio microphone, in front of one's TV camera, at one's keyboard, and talk matter of factly about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here", "ridding the world of evil wherever it exists", "taking the fight to them", and a buncha other macho "kick their ass" talk. It's quite another thing to be on the frontlines of battle, hear the sounds of bombs and bullets all day, see your fellow comrades lose limbs and lives everyday, smell the stench of death every day, and several other brutal realities of HELLISH WAR.

The vast majority of Americans sacrifice very little for ongoing war efforts and most of our leaders that make decisions about war have NO IDEA and no concept of what a battlefield is truly like yet the wars go on and on regardless of the loss of life, limbs, blood, and the trillions of dollars spent to sustain war efforts. All across the land, from California to Florida, "Support the Troops" bumper stickers can be seen but that means different things to different people. For some, "Support the Troops" simply means "let's continue to fight wars regardless of economic and human consequence". For me, "Support the Troops" means provide every single possible resource that is required for them to DEFEND this nation but DO NOT put them in harms way any longer than is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. With that said, I call on President Obama, Rep. John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnel, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, and all other leaders of this nation to "fold up the flags, turn out the lights, pack up all equipment" and end these senseless wars. Support the Troops by BRINGING THEM HOME TO THEIR FAMILIES !!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BOTH Left AND Right are WRONG

"I had much more fun last election"
In the aftermath of the Midterm Election "shellacking" that the Democrats took at the hands and wallets of Republicans, both parties seem to be completely misinterpreting exactly what the results of last Tuesday's election truly mean. Was this a rejection of the Obama administration agenda ? Was it a yearning for the "good ole bad days" of Republican leadership ? Was it a protest vote born out of frustration of not enough economic progress in 2 years ? Was it Obama "not going far left enough" and disheartening the liberal base ? Wherever you stand on the root causes of a nationwide Republican resurgence, one thing is perfectly clear. BOTH liberal and conservative columnists, bloggers, and TV analysts have been insufferable in their over-the-top rhetoric in overanalyzing what the midterm results truly mean.

For the overly giddy Republicans, they have taken the election results to mean that the country has "soundly rejected the Obama agenda" and is ready to try it their way again. They somehow have concluded that the country is now yearning for their "under-taxing", "over-spending", and "regulation-free" manner of governing which resulted in the worst recession seen since the Great Depression and the magic of turning a record budget surplus into a record budget deficit. How could we not miss such GENIUS policies ? "The Socialist, Big-Government, Anti-Business, Left-Wing Obama Administration has gone too far left" is their basic conclusion.

For the far left, they've taken the opposite view that the Obama administration has not gone far left enough and that has "dispirited" the left and so they've concluded that they'd be better off not even voting. They believe that the President's attempts to work with, negotiate, and compromise with the Republicans shows him to be a weak passivist and not fighting hard enough for liberal causes. If the right believes you've gone too far left and the left believes you've gone too far right, chances are you are smack-dab in the middle and out of that comes an inherent frustration felt by both liberals and conservatives.

"It's the economy STUPID !!"
Both left and right-wing conclusions since the election quite simply miss the mark. This election was about ONE THING that can be summed up in 5 words; "Nine point Six percent Unemployment". Simply speaking, when unemployment is high, the voting populace gets frustrated with whichever party is in power and wanna "throw the bums out" to try something new. It matters not to most people from whence we have come, how deep the hole was that we are coming out of, what catastrophic circumstances DID NOT take place, and how much economic progress has been made, when the employment situation is not back to a level that most people are comfortable with, incumbents will get kicked out on their asses. It's as simple as that.

"Hmm ... I wonder why the base is dispirited ?"
So when liberal talk show hosts like Ed Schultz go on and on about "how he's losing faith in the President because he keeps throwing olive branches out trying to work with the Republicans" , they miss the mark and seem to miss the point that Obama is the President of Democrats, Independents, AND Republicans and he MUST now find a way to work with one Republican controlled branch of government. When Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and the "soon-to-be" Speaker John Boehner say "the American people have soundly rejected the Obama agenda" they also miss the mark and choose to overlook the fact that the Republican Congress poll even LESS favorably than the Democratic Congress.

"The people want ME, ME, ME"
The only thing that we can and should conclude after the midterm results is that the people are fed up and frustrated with political gamesmanship, partisanship, and placing "party above country". They simply want JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. If either party believes that Election 2010 gives them a green light to stay bullheaded and stubbornly rooted in party politics regardless of what's taking place in the lives of REAL PEOPLE, they will do so at their own peril. The people have spoken. Do you speak their language ?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sanity Restoration Project COMPLETE

In this election season with so much at stake in the midterm elections, it seems as if every weekend features a new rally aimed at revving up and exciting a certain segment of the population.This past weekend it was the comedians turn to have their impact on democracy. Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert marched on Washington on Saturday, October 30, 2010 in the first but hopefully not last "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear". Though both comics are left leaning in their political ideologies, no one was quite sure what to expect of this rally from the King and Prince of political satire in this somewhat unusual but turns out very necessary rally.

For regular viewers of Stewart's "The Daily Show" and Colbert's "The Colbert Report", you're well aware that both comics take numerous shots at politicians being politicians with their frequent lies and bad behavior but both tend to dish it out a lot more towards right-wing politicians (perhaps because they lie a lot more ... I'm just saying ). With this in mind, one would expect the rally to be 2 and 1/2 hours of right-wing Republican bashing with about 30 minutes of "Oh ... and Democrats, you need to do better also" type talk. This assumption could not have been further from the truth. This rally was as "non-partisan" as possible and really didn't strongly advocate one political ideology over another. For the 3 hours of the rally, it turns out that it was about 2 and 1/2 hours of entertainment (with performances by The Roots, John Legend, Cat Stephens aka Yusef, Ozzy Osbourne, Mavis Staples, The Ojays, Sheryl Crow etc.) and about 30 minutes of very important thought provoking political commentary.

The political commentary was saved for the very end of the rally and should have left all with very important thoughts to go home and meditate on and discuss amongst their peer groups. As the name of the rally indicates, the main point of the rally was to restore sanity in a nation often overcome by fear, vile rhetoric, and not much room for substantive discussion. For about 15 minutes towards the end of the rally, Jon Stewart ventured out of comedian mode and into the mode of political philosopher as he made some very key points that underscored the importance of the rally.

The tone of the political discourse in this nation has taken a sharp turn for the worst, particularly since the beginning of the Obama Administration (coincidence ? I don't think so). Whether on the left-wing or on the right-wing, the highlight of most cable news and AM radio talk shows features guests yelling at the top of their lungs shouting their point of view and completely drowning out the tone of what the other side has to say. When ideological disagreements turn in to the other side being characterized as Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Nazis, and a bunch more over the top rhetoric, it is difficult to find any common ground on which to work.  We accomplish NOTHING as a nation when this is our only means of discussing intrinsically very difficult issues.

In law offices, doctors offices, accounting firms, software companies, and many other businesses all across the United States, Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Whites, and Latinos find means of moving beyond their differences and working together EVERY DAMN DAY to get things done. Why can't this be done also in Washington ? The main point of the rally is that IT CAN BE DONE. We simply need to restore a little sanity, tone it down, and work together to advance the greater good of this nation. Difficult but NOT impossible. It's been done before. Why not now ?