The US brand. What is the United States of America?

The US brand is under siege. Is anyone else worried about the future of the US?

The US BrandI don’t mean in terms of which candidate you support in the upcoming election. There are sane people on both sides of that debate. I’m talking about the very fabric of what it means to be a citizen of the US brand. An American.

At our root, we claim to be a nation bound by a Constitution that dictates our civil behavior. Since the election of Washington until Lincoln, every election has been followed by a peaceful transition of power. It is what it means to be an American.

The one time that process failed was in 1860 and it resulted in a bloody war that ended in the complete defeat of those that opposed union. The debate for peaceful transition had been decided once and for all with an anything but peaceful five years of blood soaked division. I believe, despite all of the posturing today, that this election will also be a peaceful transition of power from the incumbent to the newly elected leadership.

The US brand has been under siege in the past

I don’t think I am alone in looking back upon the last decade with a bit of distain. Our national genius for compromise has been replaced by vitriol and obstruction. When FDR was first elected, humorist Will Rogers said, “Well, if he gets to the White House and it catches fire and burns to the ground, we will say at least he got something started.” Just like Will, I have become weary of partisan posturing and I want to get SOMETHING done.

The US BrandMy worry is not over the election itself, although the personal attacks are hard to hear. After all, one of these two candidates will be our next President. In many ways, I would love to hear what each candidate will do to help our country if they lose. My sincere hope is that either candidate will try their best when elected. That is the minimum I think we can expect. The rest is just politics.

What REALLY worries me about the US brand? A fear that, as a nation, we might be ungovernable in the future. A large percentage of those that are voting say they do not trust the information published from our government. They do not trust what they read in the news and they do not trust our elective process. I then wonder how they plan on making America Great Again or becoming Stronger Together?The US brand

If you don’t read the news, where are you getting your information? If you don’t believe anything the government says or publishes and don’t believe in the right of the majority to rule— well you don’t believe in our Constitution.

I can’t wait to read comments on this post. In the past, my worst fears have been realized in those comments. Aggressive and hateful bloggers post comments that prove my point. They did not read what I had to say.

Until we address the basic problem, which is IGNORANCE, we have a broken system with broken constituents. Just remember that the root of the word ignorant means to IGNORE.

Vice Presidential Candidates Debate

kainepenceI thought about writing something after tonight’s Vice Presidential Candidates Debate, but any reaction would essentially be the same.

The debate results (however in the hell they are calculated) don’t matter in the first place. In the second place, the Vice Presidential candidates don’t matter at all. Not a jot.

What’s funny to me is, regardless of your political affiliations and or your preference for President, the Presidential debates are the only interesting ones because we get a chance to watch Donald Trump.

Depending on your political bent, it is to see him either really stick it to Hillary or ramble on almost incoherently. Funny how both sides seem quite pleased with the results.

The vice presidential Candidates DebateThe Vice Presidential Candidates Debate doesn’t matter in an average election year. The main event is in the main ring of the political circus (a very apt description by the way of what we are all quite weary of today).

This year the Presidential debate is the only ring. We are all skipping the sideshows to see the freak show.

The Outcome of the Vice Presidential Candidates Debate

So I write this blog without the least bit of interest in the outcome. I don’t care which political candidate scores the most points or counters with the most effective counterpunch. Who cares which of the Vice Presidential candidates looks more like acceptable Presidential material than the Presidential candidates themselves. I just don’t care at all.

So tomorrow, you can expect both Presidential candidates to congratulate their running mates on a great debate performance. (Love the word performance for all of these debates. It tells you how real it is). They will each pronounce the VP debate as a win and use it as a springboard to get back to their Vice Presidential Candidates Debatecampaign messages of a better America.

By the way, is it just me or can you ever remember a campaign where the candidate’s appearance was more of an issue? I don’t mean their ability to appear at events. I’m talking about how they physically look.

I hope that this is a passing fad but somehow I doubt it is. It seems to replace knowledge and consideration and allows voters to simplify the candidates based upon personal attacks.

Think about this. Would Lincoln ever have gotten elected in this climate?

The Vice Presidential Candidates debate is a trumped-up (no pun intended) media event of no consequence. There is almost nothing either party can do to fix the bored-to-tears tedium of the VP debates. Well maybe one thing. Maybe they could have enlisted Pee Wee Herman to moderate them?

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