September 8, 2012 Leave a comment
Confession time: I do not particularly enjoy the conventions.
As I have considered politics I have concluded there are three streams always running through every discussion pertaining to politics. The first, and the most obvious one, is messaging. Messaging encompasses what we see daily on networks and cable news. All sides arguing for their opinion and trying to “message” their message and ideas to others. Messaging typically breaks people down into groups or classes by race, ethnicity, state, gender, etc., and attempts to tell each group something they’ll like to build a coalition. This is the most “political” of the three streams and the one I dislike the most. Usually, it is based in fact and inconvenient facts are cast aside (one example). The second stream is what I call the “policy” stream. This stream considers “realities” and attempts to decipher which idea, which policy, is best. The third and final stream is the philosophy stream, which deals with ideology of each side, what their worldviews are rooted in, where their biases and blindsides are, and how that encourages their thought.
All three of these are interconnected. I prefer policy discussions (auto bailout versus no auto bailout, tax cuts versus status quo versus tax increases) and looking at political philosophy over messaging, but without messaging no good idea can gain traction. Someone has to talk about it, and they must speak well and in a convincing manner.
Which brings me to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Or the Republican and Democratic Messaging parties. Every pundit and junkie out there is talking about each sides messaging and whether it worked. Did the Republicans humanize Mitt Romney and emphasize their “job builder” and “company builder” credentials enough to appeal to those who are without jobs? Did the Democrats convince Americans Paul Ryan’s budget is bad and President Obama is still the same Obama you fell in love with in 2008? We will see. Polling coming out September 14th and September 17th will give us a good idea of where each party leaves the convention.
But this polling only tells us what people are thinking (or feeling) post convention. Does that really give us a heartbeat on the American psyche after 4 years of President Obama’s administration? Sort of, but I wonder whether his “likable” or “popularity” ratings in November is going to matter. Neither the Republicans and Democrats laid out a clear and concise plan for the next 4 years (Mitt Romney’s plan to create jobs was a template) and I believe the side that starts talking about exactly how they plan to achieve their goals has a really good chance of pulling ahead at the final weeks. Ideas (and good messaging) are going to win this election and I firmly believe the side that fails to talk about specifics is going to lose.