Marketing Conservatism and Corporatism

“Conservatives and their ideas are good, liberals and their ideas are bad.”
You hear the message repeated a thousand different ways, over and over, every day. It is a strategy, an organized marketing campaign to create demand for conservatives, their policies and their candidates. Over time and unanswered, it sinks into the brain.
The fact is, marketing creates demand. So after decades of this, people start to demand conservative policies and candidates and their politicians just ride that wave. In some areas conservative candidates can just point and shout, “liberal, liberal” and win elections. We see the results all around us – trillions of OUR dollars flow to the top. Our resources are “privatized” into the hands of corporations. We work longer hours for lower pay, losing our health insurance and pensions and rights… Our environment is polluted and our resources extracted.
Repeat: this is a strategic marketing campaign to get people to accept being ruled by wealthy corporatists. Marketing creates demand. Repetition drives a point home.
Today’s example just came in the morning e-mail. Read this and you’ll see that it follows the same tired script: liberals and their ideas are bad, and conservatives and their ideas are good. Marketing creates demand, and this is marketing, promoting conservative values and ideas and candidates.

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11
“Why do they hate us?” Some conservatives, following President Bush, believe that Muslim anti-Americanism stems from irrational hatred of our freedom and democracy. Others lay the blame on our foreign policy. Now comes bestselling conservative author Dinesh D’Souza to argue that both views, while they contain elements of truth, miss the larger reason. In The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D’Souza makes the startling claim that the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts around the world can be directly traced to the ideas and attitudes perpetrated by America’s cultural left.

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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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Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!

Every time you turn on the radio or a cable news show you hear one form or another of the same old message, “conservatives and their ideas are good and liberals and their ideas are bad.” Think about how often you hear one or another variation of that theme.
But how often do you hear that liberals and progressives are good? How often do you hear that liberal/progressive ideas are better for people than a conservative approach? And if you are reading this you’re looking for progressive ideas. So how often do you think the general public is hearing that progressives and their values and ideas are good?
The public does not hear our side of the story very often – if ever.
Why is that? Maybe it’s because we aren’t telling people our side of the story!
There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by these organizations. You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association – but there really is a network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-and-democracy-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.
Click this link to visit a collection of links to articles, studies, reports and other resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.
Now, can you think of any organizations that exist to tell the public that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good? Do you know about any organized effort to persuade people to support progressive values and ideas?

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What Does The Public Hear?

I have a post up at the brand-new Commonweal Institute Blog. The post is titled What Does The Public Hear?
A CNN poll this week shows that, as CNN worded it,

“…most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, “government is not the answer to our problems — government is the problem.”

From the CNN story:

“Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country’s problems.”

Let me ask a different question: How many Americans do you think have been exposed to the other side of the story? We hear, over and over, that government is bad, that it is inefficient, that it sucks up our tax dollars and harms the economy, that it messes up everything it gets involved in, and negative point after negative point. And we hear, over and over, that regulation of business is bad and “private sector solutions” are good, efficient, and are exposed to a hundred other positive images and messages along those lines.

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Think That the Dems Will Win?

Anyone thinking the Democrats are going to pick up the House or Senate this year had better read this from a year ago. For Democrats, a Troubling Culture Gap,

Democrats Karl Agne and Stan Greenberg, who conducted the focus group, said Democrats need a reform-oriented, anti-Washington agenda to overcome the culture gap. At this point, Democrats are in no position to capitalize if there is a clear backlash against Republicans. “No matter how disaffected they are over Republican failures in Iraq and here at home,” they said, “a large chunk of white, non-college voters, particularly in rural areas, will remain unreachable for Democrats at the national level.”

I haven’t seen a reform-oriented agenda to overcome the cultural gap from the Democrats. Have you? More importantly there still is not any kind of coordinated campaign from non-Party organizations (“progressive infrastructure” (also see skippy part I, part II and video), that reaches out across America to regular voters and promote the benefits of progressive/liberal values and a progressive/liberal approach to issues.
Without reaching out to the public, explaining WHY liberal and progressive values are better for them, nothing is going to be getting better. Why SHOULD the public think our values and ideas are worth considering when we aren’t bothering to even TELL THEM what they ARE?? This is what the conservatives are doing — you can’t go anywhere without hearing, over and over, how conservatives are better than progressives or liberals, how their ideas are good and liberal ideas are bad, etc. The public is STILL not hearing anything to counter that.
If you want to help do something about this, send Commonweal Institute a healthy, healthy check.

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