For the last 25 years or so, I have been producing things that promote goods and services in some way. Someone is starting a business. It could be any business. They come to me for promotional materials in the way of logos, signage, vehicle lettering. After some discussion about what they are planning to do and where they are planning to do it, I try to come up with a method of promotion or branding of that service.
I have the ability (at times) and the obligation (since this is what I do) to present a service to the public in a manner that not only tells the public where this business is located but also has the potential to cause a person to spend money on that service. I need to make it look good. I need to make it look desirable. I need to look at things like size, color and placement as well as try to make this particular business service look MORE interesting than the exact same business service offered across town. I need to manipulate. It has to be a fairly well thought out attempt to match the branding with the budget and not only sell a sign to a business owner but also to sell what that business has to offer to you, the consumer.
Knowing this and having it on my mind every day, I’m always interested in why someone buys into something. I’m not the only person who does this. You are bombarded daily whether you like it or not or know it or not. This is one of the reasons I have found political campaigns interesting over the past several years.
I watched HBO’s Game Change tonight. I had watched some trailers for the program and was looking forward to seeing it. The overall story was pretty much how I remembered things happening towards the end of the 2008 Presidential campaign. There were some other things in the program that they tried to spell out a little more clearly. They present Sarah Palin as not only quite unqualified but also as someone with questionable mental stability. As the final days of the McCain campaign unfold, you see that the people who have selected her also realize they have possibly made a huge mistake and you also see where they change to a dirtier campaign when the numbers start to go the wrong way.
In conversations in my house, I have mentioned out loud on more than one occasion that there’s probably some secret back room full of writers, planners, manipulators feeding these candidates with whatever info they need at any given moment to get them into a better position. That’s pretty easy to believe and figure out. Seeing what was or is going on behind the scenes would be interesting. I also have thought that the GOP really screwed up in 2008. The end of that campaign seemed to change directions every day without a whole lot of sense or consistency other than they continued to change.
The HBO program shows Palin as someone who is unqualified and potentially dangerous in a role as Vice President or possibly President. It also showed me something else. It showed me that even though people in the GOP had realized their mistake, they went on to present her as someone who was someone she was not. They would give you a product that was not worth a shit and hope that they could continue to fix it on the other end once it was in place.
If I am promoting some energy drink that is really not very good for you in the long run, that’s one thing. In time, some people could possibly realize that this product is not a good choice. People would choose another product. Choosing an energy drink based on promotions of that product would not interfere with national or global economy. It would not damage our relationship with other countries. It may create jobs if the product was popular enough but in the end, it is just a damn energy drink. Once done, I go onto the next thing. Promoting damaged goods that could possibly run this country is almost a criminal act. IF they were at all concerned for the future well being of the country, they would have stopped what they were doing. They did not. Instead, they changed gears and doctored the candidate to appear to be something or someone she was not.* I’m sure this is nothing new or surprising at all. I also think we should be more aware that what candidates are telling us might be bullshit and only said based on whatever polling suggests what should be said that day.
Things are not completely hopeless though. Yesterday I attended the anniversary rally in Madison, WI. It has been one year since the legislature and the Governor stripped collective bargaining rights. I was concerned that there would not be the outpouring of people as there was last year. I felt that since we are now a group of people who seems only to be interested in whatever has pooped into the most recent news cycle, things would not be as important now. One year ago, the nation’s attention was on Wisconsin and then Japan was devastated by and earthquake, tsunami and the threat of nuclear disaster. All of that focus was further diverted when Charlie Sheen decided to have a melt down. Wisconsin had passed the law and we would become yesterday’s news.
But it not quite happen that way. Recall efforts began. A year later, Governor Walker is now getting ready for a recall election as well as under investigation in the John Doe case. As we walked up the street to the capitol, I wondered if there would be people there. There were. At some point, someone announced an estimate of nearly 62,000 people. My grandson figured it was closer to one billion. He may have over estimated things a little. With the amount of people who turned out for this rally I am more confident that there will be good voter turnout in the recall election.
* Monday night: I watched an interview with Steve Schmidt on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. In the very end he mentions that he feels regret for continuing to promote Palin as you see in the HBO film, Game Change. I think Schmidt is very good at what he does and has a very firm grasp on how a political campaign works or should work. This does not make me feel any better about political campaigns. If Steve Schmidt is not on the campaign pulling strings from behind the scenes, someone else will be. Technology today and tomorrow will allow people to target and attempt to manipulate you in ways no one even dreamed about 15 or 20 years ago. On the positive side of that, information about candidates is also available like no other time in history. The hope is or should be that you have the sense to weed through this information and make an intelligent decision based on as much fact as possible. There are people out there working very hard to get you to vote for their candidate. Not because their candidate is the best choice… they are doing it because they can and it is their job to get your vote.