Posted in Campaign Tactics & Analysis, Democratic Party Chatter
Tagged campaigns, campaigntactics, clinton, colbert, colbertreport, democrats, hillaryclinton, obama, omg, onnotice
Hoarding gets such a bad rap these days. I mean, sure, if you hoard every edition of the newspaper for 50 years along with your 20 cats and assorted random bottlecaps, that could be cause for alarm (or at least a fire hazard). But in politics, saving all those assorted pieces of detritus seem like a pile of junk in the present, but become oddly helpful in recollecting days of old later on.
Today’s nostalgia trip is the “DNC Annual Report,” of which I’ve scanned in two pages. The first is the cover with President Bill and Vice President Al, and everyone was aglow over the fact that Old Man Bush had been sent packing, and new Members of Congress, like Sens. Boxer & Feinstein and many more, were now in office. “Change” it seems, was in the air. National Health Care was on the way, thanks to Co-President Hillary, and Democrats, it seemed would be in the drivers seat for some time.
Well we all know how that worked out. 1994 anyone? Speaker Newt? Majority Leader Dole. Senator Santorum?!?
But today I would like to focus on one piece of the “DNC Annual Report” – the section that talks about the DNC “grassroots campaign” to support the “Health Care Plan” for Presidents Clinton and Clinton. If you don’t remember any of this, don’t worry – that’s because in the pre-Internet, pre-blog, political world, efforts like this cost a fortune and didn’t really do so great, no matter how hard people tried.
When the cost of disseminating information and organizing people nationally is high and is led from the “top” down, the chances of igniting a movement to change something as big as the health care system is really difficult. Entrenched interests fought back with those f*cking “Harry and Louise” ads, and well, the rest is history (often revised, Soviet-style on the campaign trail, it seems).
Today, however, there are many ways for people to talk amongst themselves, and link up with like-minded folks around the country (and world), rather easily. Movements can take a life of their own, and evolve (as MoveOn did from the late 90s) and today, we have the prospect of a presidential candidate who is able to be competitive with a well-financed, Washington insider because he can activate over a million active donors (most of whom are giving in small amounts.)
It’s interesting to see how much has changed in technology, communications, and organizing in the last 15 years. It’s also interesting to see how little has changed in the mentality of the well-paid pundit and consulting class in Washington DC who seem to know how to make lots of money, but not how to get anything done. They do know, however, how to complain and whine about “blogs and the internet” and urge a nostalgia for something that never really existed. Funny, that.
I was going through some old files this evening and found one of my many stashes of direct mail I’ve kept over the years for various reasons. Somehow, in all the moving and whatnot over the years, this piece, from the first Clinton campaign in 1991-1992 got misfiled in a batch of 2003 SF Mayoral mail (!) which I was looking up because…well, you know.
Anyway, click on the images for a larger version of the covers and the inside spread. You can tell this is probably one of the first brochures the campaign made, most likely in 1991 when Clinton’s campaign began, but before James Carville and Paul Begala joined the campaign (in 1991 they were busy winning an impossible bid for US Senate for Harris Wofford).
Design notes, and a clip from “Mad Men” after the jump! Read on!
Although I work on primarily political campaigns, I try to read as much as I can about “real” advertising, since the political consulting industry can sometimes get a bit static. We tend to use the same ideas over and over because they usually work – and no one wants to go out on a limb (especially clients) and try some crazy new idea and lose and be “the guy who sank the campaign with the weird idea.”
That’s unfortunate, because to reach people today you have to speak their pop culture “language” and compete with thousands of messages from “real” advertisers. If you always hit them with “red white and blue,” they tune out. At the same time, unlike “real” advertisers, we can’t sell 365 days of the year so the tendency to stay the course is understandable.
One of my favorite places to catch up on all things ad and design related are the Under Consideration constellation of websites, and in particular, their Brand New blog which chronicles the retooling of corporate logos and brand identity.
Most recently, they wrote about the remake of the Life Savers logo and packaging which was fascinating. Almost everyone knows what Life Savers are – little hard candies that haven’t change that much for decades. Thus, how do simple sugary candies stand out in an era where everything marketed has to be “xtreme” or “totally awesome” and as loud as possible?
The folks at Wrigley’s figured it out – rather than compete on the same level as all the trendy fad candies, coming up with zany flavors, they decided to play to their strength – simplicity. In a crowded aisle full of colorful packaging the Life Savers candy bags – with their simple depiction of just one BIG picture of the candy – stand out.
In politics, sometimes you have to do the same thing to win and get your message out. There was a school of thought (especially in Democratic circles) that to win against the “other side” one had to pre-empt them on “their” issues by making them “yours” as well, so you couldn’t be attacked – you were “innoculated.” (Just take a trip in the Wayback Machine to 1984 and 1988, and you can see why people thought this might be a good idea.)
While that strategy might have made sense in the late 80s and early 90s, as it was with folks like former DLC chairman Bill Clinton when they ran for President, it’s not entirely foolproof. If politicians compete to be more and more alike, the result is often mushy rhetoric that sounds “phony” to the average voter.
Sometimes if you really want to distinguish yourself and your message, you have to stop competing with your opponent on their terms, and redefine the argument to your strengths instead. Plus it has the added benefit of being a bit more honest.
It’s funny how a piece of candy can teach you a lesson about politics. The question is, which Presidential candidates are learning the lesson, and which aren’t?
I guess we’ll see on Tuesday! Don’t forget to vote!
I was wondering how the Clinton campaign would invent a new way to fumble the ball this late in the game, and in today’s Yahoo News, I found it, front and center. It seems Mrs. Clinton would garnish your wages if you chose not to buy private health insurance in her “health care plan.”
This is not unusual for mainstream Democrat politicians – Clinton supporter (and Corporate Shill) Fabian Nunez, who is Speaker of the California Assembly, supported a similar idea for Californians. It’s one of those things people who don’t have to pay taxes or worry about bills support because it seems right – not realizing that if “health insurance” was affordable, the people that can’t afford it would have it. Do we really need to put the Institute of No Duh on the payroll with Democrats?
Maybe so. Maybe it’s also time to call BS on a few things – namely that the very concept of the insurance business is to get you to pay for something you’re not likely to use much. Insurance companies have spent decades, nay 100s of years working out risk analysis so that they can make money. That’s what businesses do, and that’s also why insurance companies are good investments.
Now, that model is a terrible one for providing health care – since an insurance company’s primary function is to make money and kick out overly risky folks, not take care of ’em. It’s also why using the government to impose what is essentially a payroll tax on your take home pay and force you to buy private insurance (or use the power of the government to punish you with jail time if you fail) is a terrible idea.
Plenty of other countries have seemed to figure out a way to provide at least some level of health coverage for their populations, and while no system is perfect, there’s really no way anyone can argue we’re doing any better.
The entire “health” industry is essentially a check cashing business – you send them a check, they cash it, then they do nothing for you when you need health care. Most Americans have figured this out. You’d think the Democrat candidate with “experience” might have figured that out too.
But then again, life’s pretty good when you’ve got government health care for life, and you don’t have to pay for it. Now where do we get jobs like that?
The funny thing about living in San Francisco is that to the outside world, folks seem to assume this is some sort of Greenie Communist Disneyland, with abortions on demand at every corner, parades in honor of Lenin and Ho Chi Minh, and so on.
Even here in town, you have people that parachute in here, thinking that we’re the capital of the left, and some of even carpetbag themselves into a Congressional run, thinking that they’re in Liberal Lefty Nirvana.
Bzzt! Wrong again!
I say this because as we close in on a Mega Super Happy Fightingest Primary Ever, and Democratic voters try to decide Which Candidate to Vote For, something has been coming up, time and again in conversations I have with Real San Franciscans: a lot of people here will vote for McCain, mostly if Sen. Clinton is the nominee.
It’s really weird. These are not discussions with political folk per se, these are chats with good people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and whatnot who really live here, and it keeps coming down to something folks really want – after 8 years of the GW Wrecking Crew and 6 years of a GOP congress, this country not only needs a political colonic to flush out the toxins of the past, but also move forward and push aside the professional screamers and assorted idiots that poison politics and get sh*t done.
And for some reason, folks seem to think that Sen. Obama might be the kind of guy who can do such a thing, but they don’t see Hillary (or is it Bill and Hillary) and the politics of the 90s being the way to go, and as such would bolt to McCain in a second.
Read that again. San Franciscans, who are alleged to be godless hippie Communists, will vote for John McCain, pro-life record or not.
Kinda freaky when you re-read it, huh?
And now the punchline – I’m not so sure I won’t be one of them. I know full well the many many problems with McCain’s past, many of his stands on issues are diamertically opposed to my own, and God, the thought of actually voting for a presidential candidate that is in the same party as President 28% and Vice President Vader still gives me the shakes.
At the same time, however, Sen. McCain has been one of the few Washington politicians who has stood up for a rational immigration policy (something of interest to my neighbors out here in the Sunset as well as folks on the east side of town).
And, unlike the Clintons in the 90s, McCain does not see Indian tribes as cash machines for political soft money donations, but instead has tried to force the inherently stupid Department of the Interior to settle the trust lawsuit that was filed to force the feds to admit they stole from millions of people for over 100 years. And up against a more Democratic Congress, a President McCain would be more likely to work with a Speaker Pelosi or a Majority Leader Reid, vs. say a President Guy Smiley (Romney).
Heresy, I know. But people are more concerned about just what kind of country we’ll have, and want to see action, not more shenanigans. President Clinton II or President Romney is more of the same old bullsh*t.
At least with Sen. Obama we might have someone who could try and bring people together, and work with folks (and hopefully a Congress populated with more REAL Democrats to back up Our Speaker ).
But a lot of people are starting to think that if it’s a McCain/Hillary contest, things could go bad, and if even us hippies in San Francisco are thinking about McCain as a legitimate choice, it’s time to take a Clue Pill and try to not invent a new way to f*ck up what should be our chance to set things right.
UPDATE: Yet another reason Democrats should fear McCain. The famous button of the early 90’s “Oh God PLEASE Not Another Republican” seems appropo.
(I won’t deny that it doesn’t hurt that Sen. McCain and Sen. Kennedy honored my cousin Helen, who passed away in 2006, honoring her tireless honesty, fairness, and trailblazing career as a woman journalist in DC. That said, it’s not the ultimate reason, but in the interests of full disclosure bla bla bla, I thought I’d mention it.)