Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

The power of groceries in projecting national strength 5 – adding in from anywhere to anywhere communications and interactive online access 2

Posted in macroeconomics, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on August 11, 2014

This is my fifth posting to a series on how nation states project an image of their strength, and of their concerns, their aspirations and their values (see Macroeconomics and Business, postings 171 and loosely following for Parts 1-4.)

And I begin this by repeating the bullet point that I offered as a topic for next discussion towards the end of Part 4:

• There are no longer any isolated, local constituencies or issues in a world where any group can globally reach out and connect and where their issues can draw sympathy, support and resonance from seemingly anywhere else and even globally.

What are the best ways to address this? I doubt that there is any one single universally applicable answer to that challenge but I would offer some very generally applicable basic principles that would shape an effective response to it, and in what I would argue to be most contexts:

• Pursue a positive message, focusing on what you stand for, what you have done and what you would do to meet specific needs. Negative campaigning, and certainly an image of only offering a negative message is toxic. It hardens resistance and increases active support from among your political opponents while leaving your own supporters without any positive message that they can build from in any grass roots campaigning that they might consider.
• Focus on the issues that the people you are trying to reach out to, see as important. And this should include both your more assumable core constituency backers and anyone who might be more of an undecided. Your goal here is to retain and strengthen your support from your core constituencies, and to expand that base.
• And remember that the issues that resonate most strongly for most of the people you need to reach out to, are not abstract and general and certainly not to them. Even in a national election, the issues that resonate and that create the greatest support – or divisiveness, are the ones that have immediate local and even personal impact. I offered in Part 2 of this series, a brief and selective accounting of the KennedyKhrushchev kitchen debate, and with a discussion of the power of groceries and of demonstrable capacity to meet the basic essentials of day to day life. Put the issues that you would focus on in a wider perspective, but focus on the here and now essentials too. Focus on how the issues that you address and your approaches to dealing with them, would impact on real individuals, their families and their immediate communities. There is a reason why I keep citing groceries in the titles of every installment to this series and I point towards it here; keep your message positive and on what you would do and why, and keep it relevant to the lives of the people you seek to reach out to.

And with that said, I shift from the more general of my above bullet points to the more specific of campaigning in an always online and always connected 21st century context.

• Listen as well as speak, and listen widely. This means going beyond simply listening to your core political party loyal, and listening to the wider community.
• And in an increasingly real-time interactive world this means actively entering into the online and smart phone enabled conversation that is going to proceed whether you are part of it or not – and that will discuss the real issues and concerns and the priorities of the community that you seek to reach out to, whether you are involved in this or not.

I keep thinking back to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections that were held in the United States as I write this, and to the contrast between the candidate selecting primary elections that were held by the Republican and Democratic Parties (see Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.) And I find myself thinking back in particular to the 2008 election and its primary elections as both parties were looking for their top contender out of what at least began as a relatively open field of possibles. In 2012, the Democrats started with a sitting president and a chosen candidate who was simply seeking re-nomination and reelection so in that election year, it was just the Republican Party of the two that faced this type of potentially open and groundbreaking primary election process.

And I find myself thinking forward to the 2016 presidential elections. I write this immediately after watching Eric Cantor, the seven term Republican Party House Majority Leader, lose his primary bid for the 2014 off-year House elections.

Cantor has been a bulwark of Republican Party conservatism and an active supporter of virtually all of his party’s more extremist ideologically driven positions. But he was beaten and soundly in his home district: Virginia’s 7th congressional district by a still more extremist Tea Party candidate, who accused him of lacking sufficient conservative ideological purity. One of the “faults” that his fellow-Republican opponent, David Brat charged him with was that he was soft on the issues of illegal immigrants because he was willing to discuss developing a path to legal immigration status for illegal immigrant children raised in this country who know it as their only home. This, I note, took place in a context in which the Republicans know that they need to more effectively reach out to Hispanic and other voter constituencies who would be all but universally troubled by this political decision and its import, and particularly where its immediate target is young children.

Basically, the Republican Party in the United States, is driven by a search for ever-more refined ideological purity. With the way congressional districts are drawn in most states in the United States, that in and of itself is not necessarily a fatal barrier to electability and certainly for state offices (for state district boundary determination, see gerrymandering.) But for truly national elections as are held when selecting a next president, it is. And with this, and with the ideological retrenching that the Cantor defeat portends, moving his party even further towards the right for Republican office holders and office seekers, I expect to see a 2016 primary election season that at least matches what transpired in 2008 and 2012 for its zeal to exclude through proof of absolute ideological purity on the part of all candidate hopefuls. Once again, I do not expect to see any real evidence of any lessons learned from the Republican defeats of 2008 and 2012.

That said, George W Bush was elected president, and with the power of incumbency that he held once initially elected he was reelected too. It will be interesting to see who the Democrats pick as their next presidential candidate.

I do not usually write about politics in this blog or in general, and certainly not specifically and directly so. And in fact I have held to a self-imposed editorial policy for quite a while not to. But I have of necessity delved into political waters in my more nationally and internationally oriented information security postings and series. And I decided to make a specific exception to that self-imposed rule with this short series here, and for a very specific reason. The issues that I write of here in a political communications context, apply much more widely. And lessons that should be learnable from communications best practices as developed in a wider context should be thought through in the state and national political contexts too. I am going to end this series here on that note. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and also at Web 2.0 Marketing.

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