22 March 2015

The Essence of American Politics

WaPo:
Is Hillary Rodham Clinton a McDonald’s Big Mac or a Chipotle burrito bowl? A can of Bud or a bottle of Blue Moon? JCPenney or J. Crew? 
As she readies her second presidential campaign, Clinton has recruited consumer marketing specialists onto her team of trusted political advisers. Their job is to help imagine Hillary 5.0 — the rebranding of a first lady turned senator turned failed presidential candidate turned secretary of state turned likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. 
Clinton and her image-makers are sketching ways to refresh the well-established brand for tomorrow’s marketplace. In their mission to present voters with a winning picture of the likely candidate, no detail is too big or too small — from her economic opportunity agenda to the design of the “H” in her future campaign logo. 
“It’s exactly the same as selling an iPhone or a soft drink or a cereal,” said Peter Sealey, a longtime corporate marketing strategist. “She needs to use everything a brand has: a dominant color, a logo, a symbol. . . . The symbol of a Mercedes is a three-pointed star. The symbol of Coca-Cola is the contour bottle. The symbol of McDonald’s is the golden arches. What is Clinton’s symbol?”
Ultimately, the essence of modern American universal democracy is that it is nothing more than a marketing campaign.  Complaining that presidential debates don't offer much in the way of in-depth of foreign policy discussion is about as ludicrous as saying that Microsoft press conferences don't offer much in the way of in-depth foreign policy discussions.  There is no seriousness in politics because consumers want flash, not depth.  Politics is merely shopping for a symbol; the currency is votes.

Thus, it should not be surprising that politicians talk about branding and marketing themselves to voters.  Voters are merely consumers, unconcerned with the ramifications of their decisions.  Politics is a game to be played; it's a way for voters to feel self-important and connected to the world at large.  If American governance seems insane, it's only because the citizens are crazy.  The inmates vote on how to run the asylum.

Thus, the often suicidal policies enacted by politicians come about not because politicians are completely unaware of the consequences but rather because the voters are.  When even a healthy chunk of Tea Partiers want to keep one of the largest (and unconstitutional) chunks of government spending, you can tell that there is no fundamental opposition to big government or excessive spending.

Consequently, the reason why there is hardly any practical difference between Democrat and Republican politicians is simply because neither party's supporters wants to alter the status quo all that much.  Rather, what people want are figureheads who "speak for them."  No wonder politicians are so full of hot air.

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