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 Our national genius for compromise has been replaced by vitriol and obstruction.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.

Brexit succession means nobody wins

The unthinkable happened with Brexit

Brexit is racismBrexit was a bloodless civil war. We have come along way (or have we?). Time was an obscure Archduke could be assassinated in Bosnia and the whole world would be dragged into a global war later called the First World War in history books.

In 1861, the United States of America began a bloody struggle to decide the legality of succession. We called that fight the Civil War and it took four blood soaked years and millions of lives to settle. In the end, the decision was made that no state was sovereign enough to resign its place in the United States.

Shelby Foote famously said that, before the Civil War, people said the United States “Is” and after the Civil War they said The United States “Are”.

Yesterday, the United Kingdom VOTED to leave the European Union. In our Twitter world, the vote was shortened to Brexit. It is an example of how blind nationalism can cloud judgment and how people will emotionally vote for things that in the long term are not in their own best interest. I wonder if Scotland wishes it had another shot at their historic vote to remain in the United Kingdom? Scotexit never became a word.

Brexit means?

Brexit winsI think a great deal of world stability will be shaken by this vote. I can see further troubles stirring in Northern Ireland again. I believe the uncertainty in the world’s monetary systems will shake rattle and roll the financial markets for a while as the global community tries to discount this tsunami of change. Everything we have come to rely on in this global world has been challenged.

But the reason I write this is because NO ONE doubts the RIGHT of the UK to secede (not to be confused in any way with succeed).

In the US, we thought the illegality of succession was decided and written in blood 150 years ago. Americans believe we have a corner on the market when it comes to freedom and liberty. We are wrong.

Freedom of self-determination was just exercised in Europe to an extent we can’t even fathom in the US. Had this RIGHT been self evident, I would be penning this blog in the Confederate States of America because I live in North Carolina—a state that lost 1 out of every 4 casualties at Gettysburg  during the Civil War.

To me, it does not matter if you think the American Civil War was fought over state’s rights or slavery. The impetus for the temporary dissolution of the United States in the late 1800’s was due to a racist issue.

I think the same is true for Brexit.

Racist underpinnings

I don’t believe it was so much an economic issue as it was over a war on immigration. The UK did not want Europe dictating immigration policy. They just don’t want THEM settling in the UK any more.  Think about it, the UK never surrendered their currency to the Euro. The Pound  Sterling remained.

BrexitSo much for economics driving succession.

I find Brexit a sad move. Not for all the obvious reason of a common market and ease of travel. I find it sad that bigotry wins anywhere and under any circumstances.

You can have your DNA tested for just a couple of dollars (or Euros or pounds) these days. It points to your REAL ancestry.

Funny, the differences are very small. We all began in Africa and are very much the same. Only the adopted and insignificant drapery of religious preference and favorite cuisine separates us all one from another.

Russia. Olympic Doping

Olympic doping is a symptom not a cause

Olympic doping "I'm shocked"Olympic doping? Remember when Captain Renault (Claude Raines from the 1942 movie Casablanca) famously said “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

I’m afraid that is exactly my sarcastic response to implications that the Russian Olympic team doped during the Sochi Olympics and that that coverup was systemic to the Russian state.

Are you shocked? I doubt it.

However, I don’t think this stops with the Russian team. Let’s face facts: Doping and cheating in athletics is a global epidemic that, just like the Spanish Flu of 1918, it respects no boarders and infects the entire globe.

Does Olympic doping bother me?

Lance Armstrong and Olympic dopingYes. But I’m not appalled. Unlike almost all of my friends, I have given up professional sports (and the Olympics are PROFESSIONAL sports) and I am fast losing interest in intercollegiate sports as well. Did my malaise start with Lance Armstrong? Not really. It started when it occurred to me that athletic competition was becoming a religion where winning was embraced as a modern form of spiritual redemption.

The problem is the wealth that comes along with winning and, to borrow a term from Donald Trump, “trust me” fame is a form of wealth.

The cult of athletics is not one of humanity’s finer traits. It clouds judgment, suspends introspection and deludes accomplishment. Fans identify with their teams so completely that they ignore the facts that even in intercollegiate athletics, athletes are not the representative of the schools for which they compete. The student athlete for the University of Kentucky’s basketball team has as much in common with the students and grads of that university as I do with an NFL athlete. By the way, don’t think I am ragging on the Wildcats (although they are top-of-mind with me). You could insert almost any university brand in the sentence including North Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma… etc. Only Temple University is exempt (check my bio).

Winning is all that matters

In a global culture where winning is a form of self-identification, it is not surprising that we have had scandals in major league baseball, football and cycling. The personal identification with the Manchester United’s of the world is overwhelming but that blind ignorance pales compared to the xenophobic nationalism of the Olympics. Do you think only the Russians cheated?

Olympic DopingMy God, this past week I heard allegations that the Kenyan long distance runners have been doping. You know these super humans? They are 6’4” (legs are 5’ of that height) and they weigh 58 kilos. Rumor has it that they have the hollow bones found only in birds so as to be lighter on their feet. These are the guys and gals that finish the marathon before any of those running the half-marathon come even close to the finish line.

As I think about it, I don’t watch much in the way of sports anymore because I don’t want to think of myself as a fool. Someone duped into thinking everything is on the up and up and athletic accomplishment comes solely from hard work and dedication. I’m not duped because everyone seems to be doped.

Earlier blogs about athletics and the Olympics

With the Olympics, NBC earned gold. Without it, struggling for bronze.

Lance Armstrong finally admits the truth about the NFL

 

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