America’s Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.
One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don’t need it, and actually hurts you and your family.
By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party’s agenda and vision gets implemented – despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.
Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands – because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is “premium” and another is $5 a gallon – is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

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Good For Dean

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Howard Dean says that Democrats may have won the election, but shouldn’t think that means the public demands Democrats in power. I agree. Democrats have not explained to the public what they are about, and as a result I don’t know very many people who voted in this last election FOR Democrats. I think most people voted AGAINST Republicans and their failed policies and corruption and authoritarianism and fear and war…
Now there is an opportunity to start reaching out to the general public-at-large and explaining what progressives and Democrats are FOR and what they are ABOUT. (Hint: Democracy and community.) Will they be smart enough to start building the kind of “progressive infrastructure” organizations that will do that — that will reach the public to explain the benefits of democracy and community and progressive values and policies and candidates?
Democrats Face a Tough Job, Leader Says,

“The other party made mistakes in the past claiming that elections are mandates,” Mr. Dean said. “Elections are not mandates. The voters of this country loaned the Democrats the power of the country for two years. Now it’s our job to earn it back again.”
In a speech to the party’s executive committee here, Mr. Dean said “governing is more difficult than campaigning,” and declared that Democrats must not squander opportunities to keep building the party. The modest gains winning over evangelical voters, he said, should be strengthened by asserting that “moral values are an important part of foreign policy.”
“If George Bush made any single huge mistake,” Mr. Dean said, “it’s that he thought he could be president by being president for half of America and by treating the rest of us with contempt. That is not a mistake I ever want Democrats to make.”

What Does “The Democrats” Mean?

Reading a great post at The Sideshow triggered something I have been brewing over. From the post,

“…afterwards we’ll have hand-wringing about how the Democrats failed to do this and that and the other thing.”

Let’s think about what is meant here by the term “The Democrats?”
“The Republicans” sure are good at jumping on things, taking advantage, making noise, persuading people, and getting their way. But when we say “The Republicans” who and what do we mean? Are we talking about the Republican Party? Republican elected officials?
When the Republicans “jump on” an event and do such a good job of getting their persuasion-message out to the public, what are the details of how this is accomplished? Who does what? Who formulates the message? Who conducts the polling and focus groups? Who pays the people who organize the writing of op-eds for newspapers? Who calls the editors to place the op-eds? Who arranges for all the Ann Coulters to appear on all the conservative media shows? How is it all organized and coordinated? How is it all funded? Who pays all the Ann Coulters and all the “little people” working behind the scenes?

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