[Paleopsych] The Politics of Branding

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 6 21:59:27 UTC 2004

The Politics of Branding
By Andrew MacDougall

Digital Journal — The good ship Democrat has pulled
into Boston for the Kerry coronation, which means the
world will soon be treated to a healthy dose of “Bush
is a corporate stooge and unilateralist-cowboy”
agitprop. In real-time, Republican spin masters will
fire off a countering salvo of “Kerry is a Brahmin
with flip-flopper rhetoric.” Continuing the descent,
the Democrats will levy a tablespoon of “Cheney is a
warmonger bagman,” to which the GOP will respond with
a pinch of “Edwards is a pretty-boy ambulance-chaser.”

Welcome to the age of politics through branding.

In a shift from corporate advertising, politicians
have chosen to brand their opponents. A stop at the
official websites of either campaign will make you
dizzy from all of the spin. After all, if you're
continually framing the other guy, you can avoid
telling people about yourself. In today's political
climate, that's a good thing.
The real damage of branding our politics emerges when
we realize that the issues facing today's world cannot
be distilled into handy all-encompassing slogans. I
didn't fully realize that myself until 9/11. While the
rubble was still smoldering, I went out and bought a
dozen books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
about Islam, and about U.S. foreign policy. I wanted
to learn why and how this happened. Here's what I
found out: The world is gray. It's not as easy as "the
U.S. is the problem"; or "Islam is the problem"; or
"poverty is the problem"; or "globalization is the

While I'm confident any member of my generation could
tell you who Paris Hilton is dating this week or what
movie is number one at the box office, I'm not
confident my generation could summarize the last 70
years of Iraqi history — although that doesn't seem to
stop us from espousing an opinion on the current
situation. We need to put the gossip rags down, roll
up our sleeves, pull out our reading glasses, and do
some homework.

After all, propaganda and spin are less likely to work
if you have a broad base of knowledge. Most of us
aren't blessed by being an economics major with a
minor in international affairs. Most of us don't even
read the front section of the paper every day. Instead
we form our opinions with the help of polemicists and
media magicians like Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh —
people who are under no obligation to produce a
balanced opinion.

We're the ones who vote people in. We must demand
better. Wait, that's catchy. Wasn't that the latest
Conservative campaign slogan? I had better change it
to something cooler.

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