Saturday, June 27, 2009

Have We Reached the Boiling Point?: Presidential Election Deja Vu

Sometimes I wish that fewer people would vote in elections. (Actually, I just wish they would become a little bit more informed before they cast their votes.) We have had some great choices in recent elections. Unfortunately, though, it's nothing new that most Americans are content to be arm-twisted into voting for the lesser of two not-so-great choices.

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In his book Boiling Point: Republicans, Democrats, and the Decline of Middle-Class Prosperity, Kevin Phillips writes this about the recent presidential election:
By condemning the Bush administration for favoritism to the rich and neglect of the middle class, Obama tapped a historic Republican vulnerability and took a strong lead over John McCain from July onward. True, many voters still doubted the Illinois senator's trustworthiness. McCain's last rival for the Republican nomination, Texas congressman Ron Paul, had insisted the Obama couldn't be believed, because he was financed by the same elites he purported to deplore. Many voters, however, felt they had no choice.
If I told you that I changed the names, and that this was actually a story of a complaint by Democrat candidate Jerry Brown against Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., would you be surprised? Replace, Ron Paul with Jerry Brown, John McCain with George H.W. Bush, and Barack Obama with Bill Clinton, and they are the words that Kevin Phillips wrote--clear back in 1992. (See Boiling Point, page xviii.)

Bummer. That was almost 20 years ago, but it strikes the cultivated mind with a lightning bolt of 2008 deja vu. Are we ever going to learn our lesson and stop voting for only the candidates whom the Establishment has anointed? We're no better than Iran.

We deserve much better.

Have we reached the boiling point yet? Nope. Not even close. The same elite lunatics are running the asylum in Washington D.C.



2 comments:

  1. There is a market in politics just as there is a market in everything else. Each of us has limited time, energy, and other resources. We strive to minimize the amount of resources expended in making choices in the market. We tend to find something that is 'good enough' and then stick with it. For this reason, most of the products you bought last month were the same brand as the ones you bought that same month five years ago (or even 10 years ago).

    The fact is that there is a cost in making choices. Retailers know that if they offer too many choices, people tend to skip the product altogether. Wal-Mart, for example, has found that for many categories, six is the magic number. If they offer more than six variations (brand, size, format) of strongly competing products, sales of that category decline.

    It works the same way in the political market. People tend to stick with a candidate or a party as long as it seems to be 'good enough.' If it stops being 'good enough' they will go through the pain of switching. But due to human nature, they will only endure as much pain as is absolutely necessary in making these decisions.

    In politics, as in the supermarket, branding plays a major role in this process. Retailers know that unless branding is built up over a long time, sales of an off brand product will remain limited. No trust level has been established. For this reason, people tend to stick with establishment candidates.

    Most of us know that the brand of toothpaste we use really isn't superior to the competing brand on the shelf next to it. But it works OK for us, so there is no incentive to switch. A few people are enticed into buying one of the non-standard brands -- even getting them through home parties or via the Internet. But most of us simply aren't willing to put in the resources necessary to research the possibility of making such a switch. Maybe if all of the major toothpaste brands did something that outraged us, we'd do it. It works the same when it comes to politics.

    You can decry human nature all you want, but you will not change it. Instead, you've got to find a way to work with human nature. And that means branding and creating broad appeal. And that means wading through systems of corruption while trying to remain unsullied. See why we're in the shape we're in?

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  2. I don't get this "elite" funding you are talking about. He didn't take corporate or PAC money.

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