I found Jim Mintz’s site Marketing In The Public Sector via a search for “Marketing Warfare politics,” thinking that there would actually be some conversations on the web about how Trout and Ries’ powerful marketing ideas – as expressed in Positioning and Marketing Warfare – can apply to politics. Not much came up, I’m sorry to say, except for Mintz. He’s Canadian, so you have to expect pithy and to-the-point comments like the one below:
Just got back from vacation and spent a fair bit of time listening and watching the US news. I have always been a tremendous admirer of the
USA. I love their entrepreneurship and as a marketer have always loved
the marketing that comes out of the USA. So it with great sadness that
I see a great nation losing some of its luster for reasons (i.e. the
debt ceiling) that are baffling.
Why does a country that produces the greatest business persons,
entrepreneurs, scientists, entertainers’ athletes etc. produce such
Well, we do have other mediocre stuff here, it must be admitted (e.g., see the Plymouth Aztek), but in general the good seems to drive out the bad – except in politics.
And I hypothesize that a lot of this comes down to extremely sucky marketing – well, not understanding marketing at all, especially the strategic kind of marketing – positioning, and “marketing warfare” – that Trout and Ries covered so well.
In fact, the lack of good marketing except from the extreme
right wing of American politics has contributed in large part to
America’s current level of dysfunction. They’re the only ones telling a
compelling story, but unfortunately it seems to be disconnected from
reality in a significant way. And no one else has a articulated anything
coherent, even though their positions are much more aligned with
reality. But they don’t know how to do marketing, so that’s the
I’m looking forward to following Jim’s thoughts in the future.
In the last few weeks we have witnessed a really bad collapse of our government and its ability to govern coherently. A complete non-issue turned into a near economic collapse due to a) the ridiculousness of the Congress and b) the strangely backward leadership of Obama. It seems to me that he really failed us, and I think the news yesterday that Standard & Poor’s lowered their rating on U.S. debt to AA backs me up on this.
Wasn’t there a better way? I think there was, and here’s one possible better approach – neither far-fetched or outlandish – both for the country and for Obama himself, assuming he wants to win his next election.
Why not start everything out by going on TV and saying “the debt ceiling should not be linked to any other issue, and I will veto any bill that does any such linking. If the Congress sends me a bill with any other content than a raise of the debt ceiling, the resulting economic catastrophe will be on their heads?” And then, when the Congress says “We want to negotiate in good faith about this,” the president can say “You passed the budget that required this level of spending. If you withhold the spending now, you will crash the U.S. economy. This is not my doing, it is your doing, and you now have to step up and make good on YOUR commitments. And if you don’t, I will invoke the 14th Amendment to ensure the U.S. does not default on its commitments – and what will that mean for your power? Your power will disappear – you will gut the legitimacy of the Congress. Again, this is a problem you have gotten yourself into, and you need to get yourself out it.” Boy, that would have been a lot more effective.
Then he could have gotten on TV whenever the issue came up again and reiterated the position – “Congress allocated all this spending, they committed to it. They can’t just walk away from it. This is problem that Congress has brought upon itself. If they don’t raise the debt ceiling, they will be saying that they would rather just say “No” than save the country from an economic catastrophe. And then I will have to step in, in my position as the Chief Executive, and invoke the 14th Amendment to prevent the catastrophe myself. And don’t want to have to do that, because I think it will gut the integrity of the U.S. Congress, at least until a more responsible set of congresspersons are in place.”
Wouldn’t that have worked out better for him and for everyone else?
What do we do about this? How can we make Obama take control of these situations in the future? Why do you think he’s not?