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political marketing

The theory of political marketing focuses on similarities between the way voters choose to elect representatives or parties, or vote in a referendum, and express themselves in other political media, and the way that buyers "vote with their dollars" in a market.

The simple minded focus on money, message, members, all of which are directly measurable performance metrics, characterizes this view. Opponents of the marketing-like view characterize this phrase as a "mantra" or even "spintern drool", and claim that it reflects a very poor understanding of politics itself. This is perhaps a reaction however to the very prominence of the view:

Political marketing became very prominent in the late 1970s and early 1980s as consensus building among traditional parties became more common - a good example being the effort to knit evangelical Christian, Catholic, libertarian, neoliberal globalist factions together under the Republican Party under Ronald Reagan. These groups had little in common except that they all chose to trust the same "marketers" to vote for.

shallow leaders


As in green politics, which also arose in the same period in all developed nations, the leader role was de-emphasized. In both the green and political marketing views, policy and platform were to be developed by professional specialists based on polls that would determine the tolerances versus preferences of the electorate, in particular, the base of voters who consistently voted for one party or another.

Again in both green and the political marketing views, leaders were only/merely spokespeople who looked good in the media, especially in TV debates, who had little influence on actual policy.

Their role was to reflect deep framing that arose from the backrooms, and to steer the public to adopt certain conceptual metaphors as "real", rejecting competing views as "spin" or propaganda. However the framing was itself a product of deep spin originating with experts.

deep spin


The role of the spin doctor "behind the throne" was accomodated in this new media-centric political party governance. By the 1990s the administration of Bill Clinton had adopted a philosophy of "explaining, not compromising" policies that originated in a back room, based on economist and diplomat expert inputs.

ecologists vs. economists


The views of economists usually dominated the 1980s and 1990s back rooms, e.g. the Laffer curve drawn literally on a napkin in front of Dick Cheney was said to have been responsible for most of what George H. W. Bush called Reagan's "voodoo economics". Corporate globalization and free trade ideology dominated this period, reflecting a concern with Pareto-optimal outcomes. However, the backlash to this was soon in coming:

What differentiated the green view was that ecological wisdom and an ethic of sustainability was expected to prevail in the policy-making and all decision making - with participatory democracy mechanisms to moderate the expert input that was necessarily part of an ecological economics. This view was implemented weakly in the 1980s and 1990s but began to mature with the eco-capitalist and geo-libertarian views around the end of the decade. By 2005 the experience with Living Platform in Practice had established that there were alternatives to mass media and financial markets as truth arbiters.

green as good


Also by 2005, in both Canada and the US, the term "green" had come to mean "good". While economists continued to balk at the implied store of value and price of life analysis implied by the Kyoto Protocol there was increased support for monetary reform and - especially as China considered revaluing the yuan - fear of chaos.

The spin battle was clearly between the ecologists' view of risk, dominated by climate change and greenhouse gas impacts, and the economists' view, dominated by Peak Oil and supply arguments, oblivious of the fact that burning all the oil presently known to exist in current combustion devices (engines, furnaces), would - according to ecologists - destroy the planet's climate and end the capacity to support large populations especially in Europe and coastal South Asia, in their existing locations.

greenwash or legitimate conflicts


Perhaps to confuse this issue, oilcos and their allies were promoting a variety of other (mostly legitimate) "green" causes such as preventing deforestation and pollution.

So while green is good, from the political marketing view - see greenwash - the scale of that goodness and the overall role of ecological thinking in ethical decisions has yet to be reconciled with the political marketing view.