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.

The Pat Summitt Brand

The Brand of Pat Summitt

Pat SummittPat Summitt knew, but you might not know, that many many years ago I owned a scouting service for Division 1 NCAA basketball programs. Women’s Division 1 NCAA basketball programs.

I was privileged to meet and get to know many of the basketball coaches of the day in a sport just beginning to feel its oats with Title 9 funding.

This was so many years ago that Pat Summitt had yet to win her first NCAA title. In my second year in business, that all changed and Pat’s Lady Vols cut down the nets. I was there for that game.

I will leave the tributes to others and there will be many well deserved accolades. She was as gracious in private as she was tenacious in coaching (and as a player years before). I don’t claim to have known her well but just meeting with Coach and spending a short time with her was an unforgettable moment.

She was legendary before she was at the pinnacle of her sport and EVERYONE knew it was just a matter of time before Pat’s teams dominated her sport. I know now why that was. It was the Pat Summitt brand.

Joining the Vols

To become part of that brand, to have the Tennessee Lady Vols logo on your jersey MEANT you were a relenteless and hard as nails competitor who worked tirelessly to be the best you could be.

Pat Summitt Tennessee LogoPlayers improved and grew under Coach Summitt’s tutelage. But she also recruited and won better athletes. The good ones wanted to be part of that brand. No matter how great they were in high school, they believed they were going to a special place and were going to be coached by greatness. The brand was a reflection of Pat Summitt.

What did that mean to the athletes? Everything.

Why the Pat Summitt brand was so powerful

Pat SummittThe basketball court was a microcosm of the world of Pat Summitt. She believed in the transformative power of PRESSURE. There was the pressure to become better. There was the pressure to eliminate mistakes. There was the pressure to be a complete human being and there was the legendary pressure of her man-to-man defense.

Everyone was subjected to her pressure. Especially the poor NCAA victims of her teams rise to greatness.

Pat Summitt was indeed a brand with a capital B. It meant identifying yourself as a player with that brand. It was your identity and it was lived with great dignity and charm by the woman who created it. She did not invent it.. Its just who she was.

Rest in peace Pat Summitt. You are missed.

John Wooden’s Wisdom

John Wooden was a marketing genius

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

The Donald Trump debate continues

Donald Trump Debate(If you watched the debate, share your thoughts in a short survey here)Tonight, the top 10 polling Republicans face off in the first of the Republican Presidential debates (or as I call it… the Donald Trump Debate). The Donald Trump debate is interesting because it provides an in-depth look at the brand of Republican for the next handful of years. But of course, the big story is not the field of 10, despite all of the attention to Fox’s methodology of eliminating and picking candidates based upon polling data differences that were less than the margin of error (but that is what I have come to expect from Fox News). The big story is Donald Trump.

A conversation on the Donald Trump debate.

So let me share with you a conversation I overheard just last week. I was deplaning (their word, not mine) from a flight from Denver to Washington DC. We had about five extra minutes because the jet bridge was not ready for our early arrival (what a surprise that a three plus hour of flight caught the airline by surprise… but that is another blog).

Flight attendant on the Donald Trump DebateThe flight attendant in the cabin was one of those chatty types whose painted-on smile never seemed to leave her face. She smiled at everything everyone said as if it was the most wondrous comment she had ever heard. Friendliness was most important to her. Great judgment was secondary. I actualy hoped the captain would say that on this flight, the flight attendant in the front of the plane was there primarily for friendliness and not customer safety. But that never happened.

But I digress. I don’t know how the discussion started but when I tuned in, she was gabbing in an animated way with the elderly couple in the first row.

  • Flight Attendant: “Yes, my husband is so upset that Donald Trump is leading in the polls that he is thinking about leaving the Republican Party.”
  • My thought: You should NEVER talk politics as a flight attendant. You have no idea who you are offending.
  • The lady in the first row: (a slight chuckle) “Yes he is a loose cannon, for sure”
  • Her Husband: “But he is keeping it interesting”
  • The man across the aisle: “He says whatever is on his mind. Just like he did on his reality show.”
  • Flight Attendant: “I can’t believe some of the things he says. (Big Smile) Crazy.”
  • The lady in the first row: “He is very brash and I think he is a bit crazy. But still, I agree with some of the things he says.”
  • The man across the aisle: “And what would they be that you agree with?”
  • Everyone: (Silence)

What drives political loyalty? Is the Donald Trump debate part of that?

My thought: I guess they love the theater of it all. The brashness, aggressive anger and hutzpah. But no one wanted to admit that they might have liked the fact that he belittled John McCain and labeled Mexican immigrants as all being rapists and criminals. In our political world, style and bravado are much more important than substance.

As a brand guy, I know a bit about identification with a brand. It is tied to an emotional belief rather than facts, figures or rational reasons. The lady in the first row would have liked nothing Donald Trump had to say had he been a Democrat. She was willing to excuse his stupid comments and even claim that some of them made sense to her (despite the fact that she could recall none of them) because truth has very little to do with belief and brand  self-identification.

The Donald Trump debate. Win or lose?

Which brings me to the debate tonight. It is all about whether Donald Trump survives The Fox debate is actually the Donald Trump Debatetonight and actually has a chance at winning the nomination. To keep his brand strong, all he needs to do it be Donald Trump. Be aggressive, make personal jabs, belittle his opponents and not come accoss like a politician who feigns respect for the other debaters.

If Donald seems in any way polite and restrained, then the Donald is done. If he is unforgiving and brash, the mainstream Republicans will begin to warm up to him. I actually think he can win the nomination because, when push comes to shove, Republicans “like some of the things he says”. Or they will pretend to like them. So, what’s the difference?

Here is an earlier blog (not on the Donald Trump Debate) on emotion in politics