Higgins: Selling stupidWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m fortunate enough to have made my living in sales and marketing for over thirty years and a proven performer at the top of my field. I can therefore speak with some confidence on the subject. I’ve likewise spent much of the last five years examining politics through a critical eye and from the perspective of a lifetime’s experience convincing people to buy into one’s ideas; and I’ve learned this from one about the other. You may not be able to fix stupid, but you can sure as hell sell it to the voting public with a slick enough campaign.
Republicans may be able to point to the captains of industry on their side, but Democrats have Hollywood. The latter has long proved itself more adept than the former at manipulating the public’s opinions, and (like Apple) making themselves look like the good guys while doing the same thing as their evil corporate counterparts and taking as much of your money as they can. Even Big Business long ago realized that the best products in the world still needed a slick ad campaign to sell them, and those less stellar needed even more.
Republicans may not like to admit it, but Democrats have simply done a better job over the years of packaging fast-paced TV soundbites into easily digestible messages of instant gratification for the electorate. They’ve done so in bite-sized pieces that don’t even require heating in the microwave before being popped into the pie-holes of voters whose medication has probably been improperly adjusted (or prescribed in the first place); and who have the attention span of a 5-year-old.
Confused at their inability to move voters, Republicans will tell you that they have the facts on their side. When they can get past their own selectivity in facts however, they’ll muddle them with “explicationes ad nauseum” that leave even their own faithful reaching for the sea sick pills. Even when their facts and logic are flawless, their argument is usually as compelling as a chess match.
They tell us we’re spending too much on government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (which we are); but seem incapable of recognizing that the same holds true for the planes and aircraft carriers that they want. The Democrats instead stick to a simple message, telling you not to let those guys take away what you’ve already got.
Even two years after they took over the House, Republicans have been unable to shake the tag of the “party of no,” in spite of the fact that it’s the Democratic-controlled Senate that has now refused to take up its responsibilities and vote on a national budget. Democrats shrug their shoulders and tell you the budgets that Republicans pass are bad ones.
Almost half of this country doesn’t pay income tax and the top 10 percent (earning $114,000 or more) pay 70 percent of the taxes in the U.S. Republicans are so bad at marketing that they can’t convince a majority to believe that those making more are therefore paying their fair share. Instead, they’ll try and make a case that we need a tax cut; and that cutting taxes will increase revenue. Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s historically done so (though tax rates are at their lowest in decades). It’s a counterintuitive argument however, both confusing and not easily acceptable to voters without a celebrity three-judge panel to explain to them how great the argument is.
People seemingly understand that we can’t keeping spending more than we take in; but were never good at math, and appear worse at balancing a checkbook. They don’t want to be spoon-fed dreary economic theory when “American Idol” is on. They want Donald Trump to point out the “Weakest Link” and have them thrown off the “Survivor” Island; all to the sound of dramatically inserted music.
Democrats in fact long ago realized that the average voter doesn’t believe that you can’t spend more than you earn because they’ve done it in their personal lives for years on everything from cars to houses that were too big, too expensive, and completely unnecessary. They certainly don’t want to be reminded by Republicans that it was stupid to do so (and resent them for it). They just want to be told it was someone else’s fault (which Democrats do); and that someone must pay (literally and figuratively).
Republican pundits now tell any who will listen that the dismal economy, high unemployment and the lackluster recovery are on their side going into November. Democrats may even agree in private, but while they don’t seem to have many ideas on how to fix the stupid things going on, they do know how to sell them.