By Sharon Jones
A new Congressman is expected to spend 30 hours a week in the party call center drumming up donations for the party. They actually spend more time fundraising than governing. When political ad season starts, TV stations triple the price of ad time in order to comply with Federal Election Commission regulations. Money pours into various markets from Super PACs that have the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money.
Donald Trump has brought one issue solidly to the forefront, that it is the marketing that matters more than anything to many. He may not be a great businessman but in a way he is a marketing master. That so many are willing to violate their supposed conservative principles to follow him, shows how much marketing matters in the game.
Trump has repeatedly switched positions, proposed completely unrealistic and unworkable policies and, at times, said things that should be heresy for the Right. The simple repetition of the slogan “Make America Great Again” and over $2 billion worth of TV time, thanks to the news outlets, has been enough to bring voters to his camp. No logic or sense was required, just persona.
There has been one great thing about the Trump persona in that it is the closest thing anyone has seen to completely real in the Republican Party in some time. While Trump is only persona mixed with some crazy, persona is, in fact, the real Trump. We are now starting to see the groomed Trump as his tone softens somewhat and the speech writers have been hired. During a general election run, he would most likely be far more groomed by the political image consultants.
The main question the populous has to ask is whether we are getting actual intelligent people ready to govern for the people or individuals just groomed to follow the given lines and maintain the marketing machine? It is very likely the latter.
Likeability has become more important than ideas. Slandering others means more than saying what you as the candidate intend to do. Ties are picked by experts and speeches are written by speech writers. Themes are now crafted to attract voters, not represent them. Every part of the candidate is sculpted to win a popularity contest instead of a contest of ideas.
Marketing costs big money and this marketing focus has begot more money coming into the system. The more money, the more marketing and the more money that is needed. The vicious circle spins downward and out of control, leaving actual voter concerns and governance behind. That more time is spent by representatives raising funds than actually representing, should not come as a shock. This system has created it.
There has always been grandstanding in American politics, but it is required more now than ever. One has to wonder if committees are ever real anymore or completely staged.
Enter Bernie Sanders. Wild white hair, non-conventional ideas, a lack of concern about the fit of his suit and the desire to speak for the people and eschew big money. He has changed the dynamic and attracted those that are tired of the marketing and willingness to submit good logic for persona and TV commercials.
Elizabeth Warren has been another real person fighting for the people and has become a respected and powerful voice. Her shouts against the financial industry’s abuses and support of the little guy has made the Senator from Massachusetts known across the entire country. There is no doubt that she is real and willing to speak her mind, not marketing blurbs.
Maybe these two candidates reflect a little backlash against the loss of democracy to marketing. Unfortunately, Americans love being marketed to and one is left to wonder if we can ever truly escape it. Abercrombie and Fitch has seen its sales decline due to out of touch marketing of perfect bodies and overtly sexualized themes. Victoria’s Secret is now also battling the new disdain of marketing what is unreasonable and considered “perfect” in the past. Maybe if we can wise up to those marketing gimmicks, we can wake up to the political game of red power ties, expertly cut hair and staged family photos.
As long as the money stays and becomes more and more important, the marketing might also just transform itself to fit the new tastes of the American public. Again, we will be left wondering what is real. The only way to rid ourselves of the marketing and return ourselves to democracy is to get all of the money out of the game.
When your representatives no longer have to spend time dialing for dollars in a Democrat or Republican boiler room across the street from the Capital, maybe then will they focus on the needs of the American public.
Sharon Jones is a contributor to zenruption’s politics and life sections. We agree with her wholeheartedly that the number one issue in politics is in getting the money out of it. Maybe if the politicians had to buy everyone a round of drinks and have a real conversation, we’d get some honesty.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license