Branding a Candidate
We are all consumers. It could be argued that we can more readily recognize major corporate brand symbols, such as Nike’s Swoosh, McDonald’s Arch and Apple’s…well, apple than we can recognize the current president, George Washington, how many Senators there are, or just about any other benchmark of Americanness. We are fast becoming less American citizen and more American consumer. In fact, in a study conducted last year, children, when given identical food items; one in a plain wrapper and the other in a McDonalds wrapper, said that the one in a McDonalds wrapper tasted better. We are brought up to be consumers, no matter what the product.
So, it comes as little surprise that the two candidates currently running for President are putting quite a lot of stock into marketing themselves as a brand. It’s to be expected. You need a simple symbol that is quickly identifiable to the average consumer voter. This symbol is, of course, run through many revisions and tested on focus groups multiple times to achieve the highest possible awareness. Take Obama’s logo, for example:
It’s shaped like an “O,” it implies a new dawn, with the inner white circle rising over a crest of American flag stripes, set against a sky-blue background. Very concise and effective. It encompasses the message of “hope” and “change,” even if you don’t know exactly why or how it does it. Now, take the McCain logo:
Doesn’t say much, does it? It does say that this candidate’s name is McCain, which should come in handy with his base, elderly people. With their memories slipping, they need all the reminders that they can get about who it is that they’re voting for again. For the younger (read- under 65) crowd that may vote for him, it serves as a reminder that, oh yeah, I have to vote for McCain, which, from the sound of it, a healthy amount of Republicans aren’t wont to do. The crest above the name implies, not too subtly, military service, but he’s not running on his military service…or so he says. Logos often are more forthcoming than the product that they’re selling wants to be.
We Americans love to consume more than we love to belong to a group or movement, even if we don’t know entirely what it’s about or what it stands for. Both of these campaigns step right up and hock their wares with equal zeal. From time immemorial, our leaders have put their names on pins and buttons, fliers and posters, trying to get the word out that they are so-and-so and they want your vote/support in their campaign/power grab of whatever they’re running for/orchestrating a coup against. George Washington had campaign buttons, so this is nothing new.
But lately, candidates have taken it to a whole other level. Just a cursory perusal through their campaign stores shows that both Barack Obama and John McCain have a plethora of items for sale. From hats to t-shirts to coffee mugs, tote bags and even rubber Livestrong-ish bracelets, you can very nearly cover yourself and your house from top to bottom with items promoting your favored candidate. Outside of this sanctioned branding, there has risen a cottage industry of small money-grabbing pseudo-businesses that are making their own swag, trying to get some of that always lucrative democratic fervor dollar.
But is this a good thing? Is the selling of a candidate as a brand and a commodity a step that we should be taking? Do I need a John McCain soft-sided cooler?
or a Barack Obama charm necklace?
At some point, we diminish these two men into nothing more than faceless corporate idols about whom we know nothing of substance, nothing of consequence and nothing of value. We’re lowering democracy to the political equivalent of Apple versus Microsoft or Nike versus Adidas. What happens when people who know nothing of a candidate’s policies end up voting for them because they happen to offer the cooler swag or have a more eye-grabbing logo? Does America die a little more with each election that goes by where we don’t talk about issues that affect us and hold our candidates accountable for their positions? Does any of this matter one iota, or should I get off my idealistic soapbox and just go back to writing all of this mindless bullshit in my John McCain recycled paper notebook? Sigh…
I’ve come to the conclusion that idealism is just about as dead as it can be in our country. You’d think that our unwavering cynicism would rise up and decry such silliness as stupid and out of touch. Sadly, it doesn’t. Most of us are simply fairweather fans of democracy.
Every four years, we get so excited that we jump on the bandwagon and buy up all of the brand-new swag, much to the annoyance of the true fans of democracy, who stuck with it, even through the down years. Then we boorishly stamp out any of the true excitement and meaning that it may have once had, ruining it for everyone involved. By the time we get to celebrate a victory or wallow in a defeat, all of the importance and substance has been wrung out of it.
Then we console ourselves by buying something new and shiny or we celebrate by buying something new and shiny. Meanwhile, our democratic process has been turned into nothing but a dog and pony show, where the snazziest branded product wins. By failing to ask tough questions and actually hold the candidates accountable by demanding that they take on important issues, we end up with paper tigers who shuffle the deck a bit, but fundamentally change nothing, because they simply don’t have to.
Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves; when it comes down to it, does the product in the brand-name wrapper taste any better than the other one?
Obama vs. McCain: Who be the Next President? (Share your thoughts)
Welp, as predicted, it’s Barack ‘Osama’ Obama vs. John ‘Survived-the-Civil-War’ McCain fighting for the title of El Presidente of the once-great US and A.
This pundit-in-training is calling this one for Obama, and here’s why:
The average voters, aka ‘Joe and Suzy Six-Pack’ are heavily influenced by the media to determine which candidate he/she would like to have a beer with (Joe) or bone (Suzy). I’ve broken the buzzword translation down into the basic ‘this=that’ format:
McCain = Experience = Not going to f things up = Politics as usual
Obama = New Blood = Might have a few mishaps = New ideals
There you have it… Throw in some Republican votes for the Libertarian ‘Party’ and you’ve got the first black President.
Share your predictions in the comments below…
On to the General
Despite what Hillary says, I’m moving on. We now have both of the nominees for the general election (and don’t forget Bob Barr, Libertarian! Ooo, and Ron Paul…something.) and it’s time to start making a decision.
So, who’s it going to be, America? The guy on the left or the guy on the right? It’s not hard, and you don’t have to decide right now, but I thought I should get you started.
Once again, this guy:
or this guy:
Take your time, weigh your options. This is a big decision and shouldn’t be made off the cuff. This is the man that you want to lead this country for the next four to eight years. The man who will lead us out of our current morass or…not. Let’s run down that list of options one more time, just to be sure.
or this guy:
Let’s do this one last time, just so I can make it really manipulative, because you’re going to have to get used to be manipulated over the next few months. It might as well come from someone you know.
So, this guy:
What the hell, one more comparison, just for fun.
or this guy:
The decision is yours.
Ten words I never want to hear again after this primary.
I am hoping against hope that today will bring an end to the Never-ending Democratic Primary That Technically Ended Two Months Ago But SHHHHH Nobody Tell That To Hillary Clinton Because She’ll Get Super Pissed. I’m hoping for a definitive ending, but then again, I’m not stupid enough to actually believe it’ll happen, being that it’s really hard to end a fight when the loser refuses to stop fighting. But just in case, I’ve decided to today reminisce on what I’ve taken away from this primary season, namely a bunch of words and phrases that I only became familiar with because of this campaign and that I am desperately hoping that I can completely forget about once all this is over with.
Populist – John Edwards was a populist candidate. Mike Huckabee ran a populist campaign. Barack Obama is a populist. Hillary Clinton is pretending to be a populist. As a matter of fact, at one time or another, I have heard the populist tag used with every single candidate running for President this year with one exception – John McCain. Because he’s not a populist. He’s more of a crankiest.
Thrown Under the Bus – Only in politics can you claim to have run someone over with a bus and it can be seen as being a good thing. Whereas in my real life, if I ever claimed to throw one of my colleagues under a bus, I would be arrested. How is this fair? I just want to know.
Super-delegate – The concept of the super-delegate is a very simple one. Before you vote, convince ten other people you know to vote the same as you, and have them convince ten people each to do the same. Keep branching out until you have about 30,000 people all committed to voting the same way. Now guess what. You still have less voting power than some 22-year-old kid in Wisconsin born into a DNC insider family, and thus, he has just erased the influence of you and your 30,000 friends when he showed up at the voting booth high on shrooms and voted for Mike Gravel because his last name made him giggle. Democracy in action!
Elitism – I’ve actually been familiar with the concept of elitism for a long time now, but what I hadn’t been aware of was that in a race between a 72-year-old white man married to a multi-millionaire beer heiress, a former First Lady who made $105 million in the last seven years and a black first-term Senator who just paid off his student loans, it’s the black guy who’s the elitist. Who knew?
Ron-tards – Actually, I’m not really tired of this term at all, and I think I’ll keep using it now until the day I die.
Gas Tax Holiday – You might not know exactly what John McCain and Hillary Clinton’s Gas Tax Holiday proposal entails, so I’ll explain it to you. If you vote for either John McCain or Hillary Clinton, on the Gas Tax Holiday, you will be given a magical burro that pisses gasoline and craps money. If, however, you vote for Barack Obama, he will come down your chimney and murder your children.
Operation: Chaos – It’s funny how the older, fatter and more impotent Rush Limbaugh gets, the more he turns into some kind of cartoonish supervillian. Now he’s got his legion of millions of Rush-tards (See? It never gets old.) flooding the Democratic primaries to vote for Hillary Clinton in the desperate hope of prolonging the election and maybe inciting riots in Denver at the Democratic National Convention when us angry young folk who voted for Obama take out our furious vengeance on middle-aged white women for stealing our election. Of course, the really funny part is that the only definitive outcome of Operation: Chaos has been making several million Rush Limbaugh listeners not only vote for Hillary Clinton in an election, but brag about it after the fact. So good luck squaring that away with your Republican God on Judgment Day. Have fun frying in Republican Hell for all eternity, kiddies.
Iowa and New Hampshire – My favorite part of primary elections ending is that I can go back to pretending these two states don’t exist.
[Insert Random Demographic Here]-ists – Here’s how it works. If you vote for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, it’s not because you think Barack Obama is a better candidate. Actually, it’s because you’re sexist and you hate women because they have menstrual cycles and drive cars poorly. Similarly, if you go for Clinton over Obama, it’s because you’re racist and hate black people and their fondness for fried chicken and talking loudly during movies. And, of course, if you vote for anyone besides John McCain, it’s because you’re ageist and hate all old people and their prune diets and slowly decaying human brains. Stereotyping is awesome!
Finger-gate, Waffle-gate, Pastor-gate, Bitter-gate – Stupidest fucking election ever-gate.
The Angry White Man: Silent No More!
I am intimately familiar with the Angry White Man(1), and I have been inspired by Gary Hubbell to lend a voice to this forgotten and silenced voting bloc(2). The Angry White Man is, as Gary so truthily puts it, “almost in fear of losing [his] constitutional rights through political correctness”.
This election, we have the historic opportunity to elect a white man as President of the United States. Yet, for troubling reasons, many Americans are paying serious attention to two sinister and power-hungry candidates who aren’t white men and who have succeeded in warping what this process is all about.
These candidates make all the special interest groups swoon. Their very presence this 2008 primary season has led to nation-wide discussions on race and gender, while putting real issues that affect real people on the back-burner. Employment discrimination, racial profiling, and unequal representation in government don’t affect real people. On the other hand, killing Muslims, protecting microscopic Americans, keeping out illegals, preserving the sanctity of marriage and ending entitlement programs (which in contrast have nothing to do with race and gender) are issues that real people want to see out in the forefront.
If all this victimhood special interest crap stays in the liberal media for too long, next thing you know transgendered and disabled people are going to want rights too. And then dogs and next earth worms. Where are these rights going to come from? Why, they are going to be taken away from the Angry White Man and handed on a silver platter to fringe freaks such as these. Good thing he has a gun to defend himself.
Mind you, the Angry White Man is not a racist, chauvinist, homophobe or whathaveyou, but the phrase “marginalized community” (code for victimhood-identity-politics-mongerers) makes him want to run to the bathroom to vomit.
HELLO, America is a Meritocracy, where all people are judged solely on their skills and abilities! And treated accordingly! The AMW is colorblind, as are all of America’s beloved institutions. Any suggestion that they are not is unpatriotic and makes the AMW apoplectic. The facts that black infant mortality is over twice that of white infants, that women get paid 3/4 of what men do though they work longer each day, that chronic diseases affect minorities disproportionately, that gay students are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, just prove what the Angry White Man is saying. Women and minorities, having less experience with the responsibilities of full citizenship than Angry White Men, don’t know how to behave appropriately. And when they screw their lives up, as data shows they inevitably will, they will come to him, begging at his door for more hand-outs.
When the Angry White Man treats their begging for handouts with disdain, he is judging them based not on prejudice, but on their merit (or lack thereof): inability to be born Angry White Men. Our country offers a level playing field to all its citizens, and it seems that certain groups want to tip the balance in their favor by changing the rules. The AWM staunchly supports the status quo as the only way to keep the game fair.
The AWM is personally unfamiliar with hand-outs and entitlements, because everything he has earned he earned alone, by the sweat of his own brow. He had no extra leg up, though historically speaking his kind have always had political, social and economic power, because history means nothing to him. Being fair-minded, the AWM does not care what your history is, only that you live up to his expectation that you behave just like him in order to be treated equally.
The Angry White Man is concerned that confused voters will miss this opportunity to vote for an AWM President like John McCain without realizing that we have only had 43 white male presidents! We haven’t even had 50 white male presidents, and yet here are voters seriously considering electing a black man or a white woman. Next thing you know, voters indoctrinated with affirmative-action-electioneering hogwash will go and vote in a black woman president. Just what we need, a Black Power matriarchy. And then who will be thinking of the white men? This once mighty demographic will languish in the background of a madhouse run not by people, but by minority special interest cartels.
(1) I do not intend to single only men out for my razor-sharp humor. I apologize to anyone who is upset that ‘Pumpkin Balls’ is so closely followed by this piece. In fact, neither piece is intended to satirize all men, but instead a small subset thereof. I will turn to other topics in the future, do not worry.
(2) Unapologetic Mexican does an amazing send up (take down?) of Gary’s piece.
(c) idyllicmollusk 4/7/08
You’re probably like me and thinking to yourself that this election season has been way too focused on the important issues. Why can’t it instead focus on inconsequential bullshit? Well, fortunately for us, the AP is on the job.
Obama Related to Pitt, Clinton to Jolie
By DENISE LAVOIE – 9 hours ago
BOSTON (AP) — This could make for one odd family reunion: Barack Obama is a distant cousin of actor Brad Pitt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton is related to Pitt’s girlfriend, Angelina Jolie.
Hmm. Guess they’re gonna need their own Brangelina nickname. Harrack? Barillary? Oblinton? This is going to take some serious thinking.
Researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society found some remarkable family connections for the three presidential candidates — Democratic rivals Obama and Clinton, and Republican John McCain.
Turns out they’re all cousins. Yup, that’s right. Identical cousins. And you’ll find, they laugh alike. They walk alike. At times, they even talk alike. You can lose your mind, when Presidential candidates are three of a kind.
Clinton, who is of French-Canadian descent on her mother’s side, is also a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette.
As if I needed more reasons for wanting to punch Hillary Clinton in the face.
Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, can call six U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, his cousins. McCain is a sixth cousin of first lady Laura Bush.
Also, he’s the grandson of the first single-cell organism that crawled out of the primordial ooze.
Genealogist Christopher Child said that while the candidates often focus on pointing out differences between them, their ancestry shows they are more alike than they think.
“It shows that lots of different people can be related, people you wouldn’t necessarily expect,” Child said.
Like, for instance, you and me, Grandpa. Why won’t you return my calls?
Obama has a prolific presidential lineage that features Democrats and Republicans. His distant cousins include President George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman and James Madison. Other Obama cousins include Vice President Dick Cheney, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Civil War General Robert E. Lee.
This is, by far, the worst assemblage of human beings imaginable, and I demand that Obama denounce and reject every last one of them.
His kinships are across the political spectrum,” Child said.
Hey, just like Jesus.
Child has spent the last three years tracing the candidates’ genealogy, along with senior research scholar Gary Boyd Roberts, author of the 1989 book, “Ancestors of American Presidents.”
Three years spent finding out what celebrities Presidential candidates are distantly related to. There’s three years these two guys nor society will never get back.
Clinton’s distant cousins include beatnik author Jack Kerouac and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of Prince Charles of England.
Fun Fact: Jack Kerouac was arrested for being an accomplice in the murder of David Kammerer, Hillary Clinton was suspected of having Vince Foster murdered, and Camilla Parker-Bowles may have conspired with the British tabloids to have Diana Foster killed. So what’s the connection? I’m going to be sued by all three of their estates for libel!
McCain’s ancestry was more difficult to trace because records on his relatives were not as complete as records for the families of Obama and Clinton, Child said.
This is because most of McCain’s family history is painted onto a cave wall in the south of France.
Obama and President Bush are 10th cousins, once removed, linked by Samuel Hinkley of Cape Cod, who died in 1662.
And is likely now spinning furiously around in his grave. I’ll let your own personal political preferences determine why this is so.
Pitt and Obama are ninth cousins, linked by Edwin Hickman, who died in Virginia in 1769.
Most likely as the result of a fatal case of handsomeness.
Clinton and Jolie are ninth cousins, twice removed, both related to Jean Cusson who died in St. Sulpice, Quebec, in 1718.
Canada, I swear, someday I will have my revenge upon you.
The New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845, is the oldest and largest nonprofit genealogical organization in the country.
Yeah, sure, for now they are. But the Historical Genealogical Society of Deleware is nipping at its heels. You just wait.
So what have we learned today? Not much, except that you can write a blog entry about just about anything.
Sod Previews “Super Tuesday”
Man, what an exciting weekend! I mean, it had everything- pageantry, excitement, suspense and even the requisite cathartic release. Wow. I’m still trying hard to recover.
Of course, I’m talking about the lead-up to what politicos call “Super Tuesday” and what New Orleanians call Mardi Gras, which is French for “let’s get shit-faced and throw colorful beads at women so they’ll show us their goodies.”
But, like the agendas of our current administration, I am not in New Orleans, so let’s stick with Super Tuesday. This is a horse-race, after all. I put all my money on Chunk of Love. He looked like a solid bet, even if it’s jockey seemed startlingly large. Almost looks like he’d be better served killing and eating that horse. Do you think it’s still too late to change my bet?
But seriously, this election is about the future of our country. Of course, every election is about the future of the country, but this one gives us the choice to vote for something new. Notably, a black man or a woman. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. Of course, that’s just on the Democratic side of things. The Republicans are letting us chose between a crusty old war-mongering, maverick white guy;
John McCain- Brains…brains…
a religious southerner whose biggest accomplishment to date was losing a ton of weight and pandering to his base, with his bass (as in guitar);
Mike Huckabee- I’d feel better voting for Jared, the Subway guy
a Constitution-loving, big-government hating, anti-war nut who may or may not be a racist-but still makes more sense than most of these guys(also, he gave us the delightful new term, Paultards);
Ron Paul, seen here trying to be heard over the screaming of his opponent’s egos…
and, finally, a Mormon
AP File Photo of Mitt Romney
Quite the choice, right? Three old white guys and a muppet who can’t decide if he’s for or against gay marriage. (which means a lot, coming from a guy with a hand up his behind)
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of things, you have history either way you slice it-
Hillary Clinton, on a recent airing of the Today Show
Barack Obama, with good friend Jim Henson, before Henson passed away…
Our choice in on Super Tuesday will be a historic one and the first major step to winnowing our way down to the final two candidates. After that, the script reads much like one of the Highlander movies. One candidate bests the other in an epic sword-battle, cuts off their opponents head and absorbs their essence.
Election ’08, there can be only one.
So, we either decide to stick with the old guard of crusty, grumpy white guys (or, notably, a mormon muppet) and Miss Piggy or Kermit the Frog.
Personally, I have to say, it ain’t easy being green…
The resemblance is uncanny…
Obama vs. McCain in 2008 Presidential Race?
As the Presidential race narrows, it’s starting to look like it will be Obama v McCain in November. Sounds great, right? The better candidate from each party duking it out for ownership of the once great nation we call U.S. and A… Not so fast!
- What if the McCain ticket reads ‘McCain/Giuliani – 911 Foreva’?
- and not quite as evil: ‘Obama/Clinton – Ebony and Sandstone’?
It’s still early yet, but here’s hoping…
What Does Iowa Mean, What Does New Hampshire Bring?
I’m not going to pretend that I’m about to give you some in-depth political observations that you couldn’t find over at Salon.com or the New York Times or The Daily Kos or The National Review. I’m most certainly not smart enough to crunch all of the numbers and I’m not enough of a seer to be able to tell you what it all means. I’m also not going to pretend that I don’t have any leanings, that I’m an objective observer, because I’m most certainly not.
What am I going to do here, then? Well, I’m going to do what my mother always told me to do, my best. I’m also going to get that damn Micro Machine out of my mouth, stand up straight and wash my filthy hands. If I’m going to follow one of my mother’s tenets, I might as well follow them all.