Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Getting Out the Vote / Hero Worship

I purposely avoid politics with my blog. I have friends on both sides - Bush fans that give me grief for not blogging about media conspiracies and the sort, and then Kerry fans that berate me for not being more supportive for JFK on my blog. The Kerry forces seem to be more vocal in harassing me, though. But, I was raised to believe that politics is a private matter, that it's a one person, one vote society and no one has to know who you voted for (here's a hint - on the unknown races, I write in Jeremy Pepper, so please do the same in your district).

I like to think of myself as partly open-minded. I read both right-wing and left-wing blogs, I read Drudge (not a fan, so he gets no hyperlink). I guess, though, that I am in the minority for keeping an open mind. A Forbes article today on Bloggers and Blinders notes that while people read blogs, they only read the blogs that they are in agreement with. Not me. I like to keep my blood pressure up, and I believe that I burn a lot of calories grinding my teeth.

So, in the spirit of the season, I am writing about the current campaigning. As an undecided voter, I'm sickened by the current tactics that both the GOP and Democrats are undertaking and I have no doubt that this election will reach the same low level of turnout since Poppy Bush ran against Clinton.

Why did I decide to blog about this today? A personal hero had an OpEd in the Washington Post today - Elie Wiesel is one of those four people I would have dinner with, if I could.

Wiesel writes ...


But why the disagreeable, offensive tone that emanates from this event?

I've been living in this magnificent democracy since 1956. As a foreign correspondent for some time, I had the opportunity to watch the two parties campaign in a number of presidential races: John Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford. I have watched the elections of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

In every case, the supporters and spokesmen of both the incumbent and the opposition expressed themselves with ardor, conviction and dedication.

But never with such violence as we see today.

Too many Democrats feel hatred -- yes, hatred -- for President Bush, and too many Republicans fail to hide their contempt for Sen. John Kerry. These two sentiments should be excluded during electoral contests.

Wiesel goes on to note that politics is no longer a noble pursuit, that it inspires contempt, that politics has devolved into nastiness and ugliness. Here is a man that survived the Holocaust, who treasures the freedoms that the United States has granted him, and he's disillusioned by what politics has become.

I have to wonder - since this is a PR blog - what is the public relations strategy for both parties? Right now it is pretty obvious that the party loyal are going to vote either Blue or Red, and will not be switching sides. The people that Bush and Kerry need to reach are the undecided swing voters. Does dirty politics work? Well, if the past is any indication, yes - just think back to Lee Atwater's campaign against Dukakis with the tank photo and Willie Horton - but is this how we want our president decided?

I am still waiting to find out what each candidate's position is on various subjects - but the TV commercials sure are not telling me anything about the candidates. Isn't this what public relations is about - getting out a message, but not just a negative one?

Let's be honest - the whisper campaign works wonders. If you have practiced public relations for any amount of time, you have undertaken a whisper campaign against a competitor's product. You dig for information from sources, you place the doubts into influencers' minds, you work the system. And, yes, it works in politics also.

In PR, though, the whisper campaign is one small part of an overall strategy. A very small part. You cannot promote the product with just a whisper campaign against the competition - you have to go forward with getting the message out to the public. You have messaging points on why your product or company is better than the competition. You have messaging points that bring forth the best aspects of your company or product. You have messaging points that highlight the product or company. And, these messaging points are what are the most important parts of the campaign, what sets the company above the competition as the one to beat.

Thus far, in this election, I have learned that Bush may or may not have served out his full term in the National Guard, and that Kerry may or may not have been in Cambodia during Christmas, and that he may or may not have deserved the respect of the other Swift veterans. All incidences from more than 30 years ago - which have no real affect on the upcoming election.

In 2004, vote Pepper for President.


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