American political campaigning 101
It’s no secret – the unemployment rate in the United States is through the roof. And for all those searching for a job, we figured we might lend a helping hand by taking a look deeper into the strategies and the style of political candidates.
They are, after all, working tirelessly to get some of the most powerful jobs in the country.
Lesson #1: Set the bar low, just like Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell did. In her campaign ad, she said, “I’m not a witch. I’m nothing you’ve heard. I’m you. None of us are perfect.”
Lesson #2: Instead of talking about your own strengths, talk about the other job candidate’s weaknesses.
California Gubernatorial Candidate Jerry Brown did so, in a television ad showing his opponent, Republican Med Whitman, with a Pinocchio-like nose.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if every time Meg Whitman told a lie her nose would grow?,” asks the narrator.
Lesson #3: Tell them why the place where you want to work sucks.
Wisconsin Congressional candidate appears in a commercial in a flannel shirt and an axe.
“I come from a long line of lumberjacks. My family has a proud heritage of swinging the axe. I’ve always been quick to take on a big piece of timber and I’m just as ready to topple the big spending in Washington,” said the candidate in the ad.
Are you confused if you’ve learned different in the past? It hasn’t always been this way. Veteran Washington journalist Rich Cohen says things have changed drastically from the days of candidates campaigning on knowledge and experience and ideas, not to mention their ability to be successful in Washington.
“We’re at an unusual time in American politics when the politicians almost want to be separate from the world in which they operate,” said Cohen, who now works for Politico.
Lesson #4: Play down your education.
Did you go to Harvard or Yale or Georgetown? Well don’t mention your school, lest you be accused of being an elitist.
Lesson #5: Whatever you say, make it memorable
Governor Pat Quinn did this in what is perhaps the most disturbing campaign ad of the season, in which he implies that his opponent, Bill Brady, wants to murder dogs.
“Viewers, voters they don’t have a lot of time to learn about candidates,” Cohen said. “They don’t’ have a lot of patience so the candidates have to be quick and to the point and grab their attention by the throat.”
Lesson #6: Bring a gun.
Several candidates, including former Arizona Congressional Candidate Pamela Gorman, West Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Joe Manchin and Dale Peterson, a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner in Alabama explicitly highlighted their ability to pack heat.
Lesson #7: If all else fails, Blame China.
In California, Senator Barbara Boxer’s ad against Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, talks about Fiorina laying off 30,000 workers and shipping the jobs to China.
So, in summary, when applying for a job – do like those applying to work in some of the most powerful positions in the country: Don’t talk about your qualifications or education, criticize your competition and make sure whenever you’re in public that you’re carrying a weapon – the bigger the better.
“Even if Republicans take the house, even with a fairly substantial majority, they likely won’t take the Senate, even if they do they won’t have anywhere near the 60 votes they need to overcome filibusters and so forth, and they’re going to have a Democratic president so anything that they do that the Democrats don’t like, if it can even get out of the Senate, will be vetoed by the president,” he said. “What they are going to have to count on is a Republican president in 2012 and a Senate that changes hands a little but more radically towards the Republicans.”
There has been no specific Republican or anti-Washington platform. Candidates are vague on how they would accomplish their goals and cut government spending. It is clear they do not intend to cut defense and military spending, leaving little else to consider.
“You’d have to cut entitlements; Medicare and social security,” said Koffler. “They’re going to have to be very brave in order to make those kinds of cuts, especially since they also want to lower taxes which are going to make it even more difficult for them.”
Candidates running for office always want to change government, but they get to Washington and find out how great lobbying money is they become a part of the system, explained Koffler.