Politically ignorant generation of sheep

Are we the generation of the politically ignorant?

politically ignorantThe word ignorant gets its root from the word ignore. Someone who is ignorant is someone who ignores. Because we ignore, we are politically ignorant.

I worry about the future of my government because I live with generations of the ignorant. We have almost no sources of news today other than the slimy slanted broadcast news stations and broadcast news centers.

Things have changed and not all change is progress.

When I was a young person, the TV networks took news seriously. The vision of Walter Annenberg attempted to present the top news stories of the day in 30-minute segments every evening.

Some even adopted 60-minute formats and news anchors tried to present the facts. Editorial content was reserved for a few small moments every few weeks when the station’s editorial staff expressly present an opinion piece.

Politically ignorant was not Walter CronkiteThere were inherent reasons why this format worked. Americans, by and large, received or purchased a daily newspaper. These papers subscribed to international bureaus like the AP or UPI and the larger papers had reporters stationed all over the globe, collecting, dissecting and evaluating the validity of the world’s happenings.

The broadcast news bureaus were not designated as profit centers. They were part of the station’s charter to serve the public interest. No one confused or polluted the broadcasts or segments as entertainment. Few were politically ignorant.

When CBS, NBC, and ABC covered the political conventions, the news anchor (like Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley) watched the event and acted as a master of ceremony diverting the live cameras to the stories taking place on the convention floor.

Everyday beat reporters, like the soon to become famous Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, asked hard hitting questions of Mayor Daley or Everett Dirkson.

What do we have today?

Drivel. Politically ignorant drivel.

Panels of talking heads replay scripted spin. The conventions themselves lack the drama of even the Academy Awards. The reason? All the outcomes and decisions are known before the convention itself. The result is ignorance.

Politically ignorantWho needs to make a considered decision when you can tune into any specific political broadcast and see and hear only from proselytizers and pundits that already agree with your pre-determined decisions?

How many Americans believe that Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly are newsmen?

This lack of discourse makes ignorance comfortable and worse still acceptable. How many of you have heard of the Pulitzer Prize-winning web site called Politifact? It is a web site dedicated to political fact checking. It looks for misinformation on both sides of the aisle.

Today, if you are unhappy with the way government is working (or not working), I say that we get the government we deserve. And we deserve the government we get.

the results of being politically ignorantI am NOT outraged over Donald Trump’s political comments concerning Russians and emails. I AM outraged that his supporters are not providing any political incentives or consequences to stop this unfiltered crap.

Political benefits at what cost? Diplomacy works only through back doors not through bullying tactics. As a nation, we pretend to abhor bulling in our schools but we seem to have no problem rewarding it in the important geopolitical arena.

So what is the end result of political thought that is unchallenged and ignored? History tells us the unbelievable and the inconceivable happens when rational objection and forethought goes out the window.

When it is suggested that we could make ourselves safer and preserve our culture… the silent majority nods in agreement. Let’s put the Jews in camps.

Facebook Politics. Keep it private.

Facebook Politics are NEVER persuasive

Facebook Politics
Trump or Clinton or Sanders?

Facebook politics (posts about political identification) seem to be more and more commonplace today. I’m not so different from you. I have deeply felt political loyalties. However, if you are like me at all, you just cringe to see opposing views posted on Facebook by your friends. However, I don’t cringe when my friends post messages that agree with my bent. What’s going on here?

Its easy to dismiss this personal hypocrisy and blame it on the idea that we all Facebook Politicslike it when others agree with us.

I think that is true, for the most part. But it feels to me that we get our nose out of joint most often when our social media acquaintances post confident opinions on religion or politics.

Other topics don’t seem to bother me too much. I read them but they never ruffle my feathers. Facebook Politics and Facebook religion… well those are different beers altogether.

Facebook is an interesting and timely example of personal branding

For many of us, our Facebook page is the banner of our private brands. We use it to tell the world where we have visited, what we have eaten, what we have seen, who we love and.. what we believe (insert politics or religion here).

I’m no different. A search of my Facebook page reveals posts from my business’s blog, trips I have enjoyed with my wife, restaurant meals that were (sometimes) memorable, pictures of my family and grandchildren and very little more. I try not to post things that express my views on religion and try (sometimes I fail) to ignore political posts.

Facebook PoliticsWhy? Is it because I look at Facebook as a branding tool? Is it because I find posts from others on these topics occasionally offensive? I wish it were so simple.

The truth is that I avoid posts that talk about politicians, politics and religion because I am a student of persuasion. It’s part and parcel of what I do for a living. As a brand strategist, my goal is to position brands in a way that they become persuasive to prospects (and at the same time reassuring to customers).

Facebook politics as a focus seems futile to me. I know how difficult it is to change someone’s mind and I use every tool available to me as a professional brand guy to make the effort successful. I utilize research, competitive and market analyses, switching triggers and a projectable research based understanding of beliefs.

I know that the best way to change a behavior is to align a brand message with an existing belief held by the target audience you want to influence. When done with aplomb, you are not changing behavior insomuch a realigning a behavior with the self-definition of the target audience.

This process works because we are all prisoners of our belief systems. What we BELIEVE to be true (note that it does not have to be true, just believed) always controls our behaviors because it creates the needs and wants that control all of our actions.

Brand is self-identification

Coke is a major player in consumer packaged goods
Are you a Coke?

Usually, this self-identification is general—it forms a philosophy of our lives that gives us personal meaning and eliminates internal conflicts between what we do and what we believe.

Human beings naturally seek refuge in agreement and are repulsed by conflict. When you engage in a behavior that seems alien to your belief systems I can pretty much guarantee that you will eventually cease that behavior. We may be emotionally attached to Coca-Cola but we are not a COKE.

Religion and Politics are a different story. Depending on your bent, you ARE a Christian, Muslim, Atheist Buddhist, Hindu, or Jain. You ARE a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist or Libertarian.

These are the fiber of your belief systems. Rarely are they challenged (as adults) without a catastrophic event.

What this means is that we form attachments to these ideas WITHOUT cognitive introspection. They are emotional beliefs not rational ones.

I know from commercial experience that ALL purchase decisions are emotional choices. They are not cognitive. We may believe we have rational reasons for the things we buy but they most often are rationalizations of an emotional choice. We back-fill the rational to defend the emotional precisely because we can’t abide internal conflicts.

An exercise in futility

Hillary Clinton LogoSo I ask you the question I ask myself, why post your religious views or political polemics on Facebook? Is Facebook politics worthy of your time and effort?

Nothing you say could possibly change someone’s mind because rational arguments, from either side of an issue, will not change anyone a jot. It is an exercise in futility.

A mentor of mine once told me that communication without purpose is at its best unconstructive and at its worst destructive. I think that has never sounded more true to me than hearing about Bernie, Donald or Hillary on Facebook.

We all are where we are and all we risk is offending those who do no agree with our own beliefs with a ZERO chance of changing someone’s mind. I actually believe that it makes others more entrenched in their beliefs. It’s human nature after all.

Brokered Republican Convention? Is it plausable?

What would a brokered Republican Convention do to the GOP?

a brokered Republican ConventionA brokered Republican Convention sounds like such fun to political junkies. However, such shenanigans in today’s fractured political world might spell the end of the Grand Old Party. Powerful brands (and the Republican Party is one of the most powerful) gain their mojo by reflecting the values that adherents attribute to them.

Pulling the rug from under the feet of a political don is always a risky proposition. But, in the modern era at least, such denials have MOSTLY been the result of primary voting. When that happens, there is no one else to blame and disappointment does not necessarily manifest itself in defection. (Read a great article on the Trump candidacy here).

The closest brokered convention in my experience was the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago, oddly enough. Bobby had been assassinated, Eugene McCarthy had never built up a head of steam and we had a sitting President whom most thought would run for reelection. When LBJ stepped aside and opened the way for Hubert Humphrey to grab the nomination, there was a price to pay for such backdoor slight of hand.

The price was the election of George McGovern in 1972. The disaffection after the ‘68 circus caused a re-write of the Democratic Party rules – rules that in retrospect seemed to favor populists like McGovern (whose candidacy attracted little widespread support from party regulars).

The GOP does not have the brand permission to have a brokered Republican Convention.

A brokered republican convention is possible
How does the Trump debate controversy play out?

What has and is happening to the Republican Party? The truth is the once grand GOP has become the party of NO! and obstruction. As a result, a plethora of what would be considered fringe candidates have replaced the party regulars.

In other years, candidates like Kasich and Bush would have garnered centrist support. Since the party became hostage to more extreme and more polarizing views, the idea of obstruction has come home to roost.

A brokered Republican Convention could just be the jewel in the crown for such a band of brothers. The party that decided it was in better political interest to appose EVERYTHING the current sitting President supported because it was politically expedient — even if it might be to the detrimental of the national interest itself— might now become a victim of its own expertise. The expertise of division.

So we need to ask, why should politicians who celebrate their divisiveness and fringe support be either surprised or upset over Donald Trump’s candidacy? Play with fire for eight years and you can expect to get burned.

IfWhigs. A brokered republican convention Trump continues his winning ways but fails to capture the nomination outright, can the Republican Party deny him the nomination? Maybe. But at its own peril.

Try separating yourself from the kinds of emotional kvetching that gives rise to Trump’s extreme politics (Putin-like pronouncements wrapped in the stars and stripes) and you might not have any choice but to coronate the self-described king.

Can you actually pull the rug out from under him and hold a brokered Republican Convention? Try to make compromise happen in a party that thinks compromise is weakness and NOT governance—and you are tearing at the very foundations of that brand. It could kill the host.

If you think such things are unthinkable it has happened before. Donald Trump is not the first candidate to wear and destroy a Whig.

The Trump Debate

The Democrats want Trump to win

Trump Nonsense

The trouble with both parties

US Government vs Apple Inc

US Government vs Apple. Nothing is more American than Apple®pie

US Government vs AppleA brand is a means of identification. The world’s best brands represent the highest aspirations of its adherents. The more emotionally important that reflection is, the more important the brand is. In an odd change of pace, I am watching the battle between the two monster brands— The US Government vs Apple Inc.

Many years ago when I worked for Saatchi & Saatchi, I remember my boss at the time, Ravi Arapurakal, prophesizing that the emergence of international corporate brands would one day be more important than the brand of nationality. He saw this progression as a positive change because the economic interests in global commerce would make international conflicts a greater hazard for corporate viability and success. Ravi spun many philosophical streams (and still does) but this one stuck to me. Possibly because it seemed so crazy to me at the time.

Today, I am looking at a tear in the fabric of the universe.

US Government vs AppleI’m an American. A citizen of the United States of America. You know the Americans? Home of the free and the brave (or so the song goes). The focal point of freedom and individual rights and unbridled freedom. Why is it then that Apple is standing firm on my rights to ownership and privacy while the US government wants to force Apple to crack open its heralded privacy software and crack the security of Tashfeen Malik’s iPhone (the accused San Bernardino terrorist killer).

US Government vs AppleAs you will remember from your civics classes, the US Constitution and the laws of the land are designed to move and change slowly. The very thoughtful reasoning behind this is to protect us from wild swings in emotional sentiments. Our laws are supposed to keep us safe from overreaction and the tyranny of the majority. Did anyone ever think that it would be a commercial brand that sought to ensure our rights while a democratically elected government sought to infringe on those rights (besides Ravi, that is)?

US Government vs Apple. We need to make hard choices.

Like all the rest of us I am worried and concerned about terrorism. I want the government to keep my family and friends safe. I want the government to prosecute criminals and terrorists. I want the government to do (within the law) all it can to secure our safety. But here I am, thanking Apple for taking a stand to protect my rights of privacy. In effect, it is defending the right of privacy for us all— everywhere. Apple represents, in this instance, a higher ideal than my own country.

Robert Bork. US Government vs Apple
Judge Bork did not believe in privacy

Our Supreme Court has haggled for years over our rights to privacy. Many maintain that the Constitution does not explicitly defend a citizens right to privacy. Many who are old enough can remember the contentious hearings from the late 80’s when Judge Robert Bork, who claimed there is NO right to privacy in the Constitution was not confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

Thank you Apple. Thank you Tim Cook. I’m not Robert Bork and I happen to believe our right to privacy is an accepted value of a free people. The US Government vs Apple is important.

Sometimes, we need to see a bigger picture and to recognize that principle is the only way we ensure our values are honored. Are there risks? You bet there are. But our freedom and liberty are the price we must pay if we truly believe in human rights.

More on Apple and government…

Apple 5se is the wrong brand

The Apple Watch

Apple since the death of Steve Jobs

Politics is emotional

What is wrong with US Politics

The Democrats need brand help

 

 

 

Republican Debate Survey Results

The Debate Format

Stealing Share sponsored a quick survey of people who watched the Republican debate on August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The results are not terribly surprising but interesting none the less. The format of the debates raised a lot of hackles because of the sheer number of debaters. The viewers who took the study were evenly divided when asked if there were too many debaters.

 

debate survey results were there too many debaters

 

But they were less divided when asked if too many debaters were left out. Only 26% believed the field should have included the debaters that took part in the pre-debate debate.

debate survey results were to many left out?

 

Favorite Candidates

Donald Trump was the favorite candidate entering the debate by a large margin as 51.8% of the respondents held Trump as their favorite. None of the other candidates broke into double digits.

debate survey results who was your favorite candidate before the debate

 

Did the debate change anyone’s mind?

We wanted to know so we asked.  As it turns out, 26% of the respondents did have a change of allegiance after watching the debate but 74% stayed loyal tdebate survey results did you change your mind?o their pre-debate choice. The respondents hailed from both major parties with only Libertarians underrepresented. 40% said they were registered Republicans and 7.9% identified themselves as membersdebate survey results by party affiliation of the Tea Party. Assuming that Tea Party supporters tend to vote Republican, roughly 50% of the respondents could be classified as being Republican. Democrats made up 28% of the study and 22.5% called themselves Registered Independents.

 

debate survey results how much of the debate did you watch

Three quarters of the respondents said they watched the entire debate and two thirds said they watched the post debate commentary. There were only small differences in viewing when we broke it down by political party affiliation. Independents tended to watch less of the debate with approximately 50% saying they did not watch the entire debate.debate survey results how much did you watch by party affiliation

Who did they prefer after the debate?

debate survey results who won the debate

 

The winners here were Donald Trump, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson with Trump still leading by double figures. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie seemed to have lost the most ground. But the negatives seems most severe with Governor Christie and Rand Paul. When asked who they would not be willing to support in the general election, many of the top candidates had very high negatives with Donald Trump being the most polarizing. He was the favorite and in the top five of those whom voters would not support.

 

debate survey results candidate negatives

Ben Carson had the fewest objections to voters in the general election and Marco Rubio seems acceptable to most voters.

debate survey results most important issues

When we queried respondents about the issues that were most important to them in this election, only reasonable gun control and changing the US to a Christian country were considered unimportant. There were some interesting differences between these issues when we looked at the motivations of the Trump supporters.debate survey results Trump supporters most important issues

Generally speaking, the Trump supporters had higher intensities in the issues that mattered to them. And they mimicked closely the campaign talking points of the Trump campaign itself. Only reasonable gun control was viewed as unimportant with the Trump supporters and they were in favor of making the US a Christian country— unlike the rest of the respondents who did not favor this constitutional change.

Read my blog on the debate here