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Governor Sarah Palin has joined the National Council for a New America's panel of experts. The council is the GOP's re-branding effort; they launched their first event in a listening tour over the weekend. Hey Sarah, you don't need to listen. You need to start talking.
Here's the one thing that our politicians don't seem to understand — so I'll say it very slowy: Quit it with the "listening tours." We don't want made for TV town halls or events where you pretend to listen. We want you to actually listen.
The problem is politicians have "focus grouped" us to death. They think voters are consumers and they are the product, so they hire brand consultants to figure out new ways to "package the message."
Packaging the message is good business. In last year's election, political consulting was estimated to be a $10 billion-a-year industry.
And what do our leaders get for their money? Strategies like "targeting," where they're advised to focus on race, religion and economic classes of voters to deliver a more personalized message. Does it sound like they are selling detergent, burgers or soda? In some ways, they are.
Campaigns are starting to use "micro-targeting" — something the progressive think tank The New Politics Institute says uses tools that, "have guided commercial marketing for decades…." It helps campaigns, "shape and deliver messages to specific individuals and households by tracking and analyzing information on a person-by-person basis."
Politicians can't just speak from the gut; they have to see which words and phrases will sell, what is going to make you drool.
We lend our credibility, our time and our energy to these politicians with the belief they are authentic and they truly want what's best for us. In reality, they are used car salesmen conjuring up new ways to market their broken promises. I am tired of those who claim to listen, but are only doing it for the soundbites or to find a new "buzzword" they can regurgitate in a stump speech to make us buy their "brand."
So for any of you politicians who are actually listening, I've got some buzzwords of my own for you:
• Don't be a dirtbag
• Don't sleep with interns
• Enforce laws
• No corruption
• Pay taxes
• No sweetheart mortgage deals
• Fight to win, then go home
• Grow a spine
• Stop touring, start serving
I would like to have our leaders stop with the stupid listening tours or try this: At your next "town hall meeting," trade places with one of the people there. Give them the keys to your congressional office. Those people wouldn't pay for instincts, they'd rely on their own. They wouldn't micro-target a message, they'd say what they meant and mean what they said.
Once we have that, sign me up for the listening tour. Until then, the only thing these people will ever really pay attention to are the results of the next election.
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