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The conservative ROI sucks.

March 13, 2014

Most businesses judge the success of their ad campaigns by the ROI, the return on investment that the ad produces. If sales go up 20% the investment was a good idea. If it generates little or no increase, it was a flop. The reason businesses invest so much into CRM or customer relationship management isn’t because they want to sing kumbaya with their customers. It’s about ROI.

For some reason, the Republican/Conservative political spectrum has a very hard time with their CRM when it comes to picking a theme to run on, much less a pitchman, er, candidate that can sell it. They either target a very narrow segment, like 18-34 year olds, women or Hispanics or they harken back to the Reagan years. Then they wonder why the country as a whole doesn’t get behind their message.

Take the Reagan comparisons. Have you seen the Jack-In-the Box commercial  where the little 20-something intern asks Jack if his watch was created “in the (19)80’s”, as though that was the Dark Ages?

What happened in Reagan’s era is simply not relevant to the consciousness of the people that comprise the Democratic base. Surfer dude buying lobster with his EBT card they can identify with, because they might very well be doing that too.

The America of the 1980’s isn’t dead yet, but it’s getting there, simply because the people that were willing and able to take advantage of the opportunities Reagan’s policies offered, and more importantly understood why his policies worked, are dying.

The only way that message resonates with today’s voters is to make it relevant to people in this era. People don’t vote for dead presidents.

People under 50 have never lived in an era where they couldn’t access some government program to pay for something they need or want. They see the top 20% of wealth holders as greedy robber barons who figuratively raped, pillaged and stole to get where they are, rather than people who worked hard and got ahead by doing so.

What most people don’t seem to quite get, at least not yet, is that potentially the greatest robber baron of all is the government.

Government done well should be a asset to people’s lives. Done ineptly, imprudently or dishonestly, the sheer size of  government means that it has the potential to turn ugly very quickly.

Food safety is an example. There is hardly a month that goes by that there isn’t a major recall on some food product. We have agencies like the USDA that get a lot of taxpayer money to see that our food is safe. The USDA Inspected label used to mean something good. There should be no way that a large meat processor should be able to slaughter and process diseased animals, or let contaminated lettuce into the food chain.

Instead of spending the money to have inspectors at these facilities, our taxpayer-funded agencies are busy revamping the food pyramid, pushing for new nutrition labeling that simply re-states the same facts with different optics, and otherwise pushing  a political agenda. Personally, I would rather know the food isn’t going to kill me tonight, instead of worrying about whether it might kill me in fifty years.

When you make the argument that a smaller, leaner, more efficient government that sticks to its core job description is a benefit to the people, you step on a lot of well-paid toes. When you suggest that big government is the problem, not the solution, it sets off a reaction similar to what happened when scientists declared that planet Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, a theory that got some of them burned at the stake. It’s a lot easier to just go along with the idea that big government is the answer to all your problems.

That works, until the government sticks its nose into individual lives on a mass scale, with obvious bad results. Obamacare wasn’t sold as “We are planning to take over your lives and make you live the way we want you to live”. It was sold as a program to make health insurance affordable, e.g. a program for the public good. Now, the President is suggesting that maybe people should “prioritize their spending” and give up their cell phones and cable TV to pay for it.

The liberals are very, very good at selling dreams. All they have to do is tailor the pitch to the market. That’s how marketing works. Still, if you just want a phone, you don’t have to buy a smartphone. Unlike Sony or Samsung, the government can force you to pay for something you don’t want or need.

Big government protecting you from all that’s bad in life is a nice dream. The fact that Obamacare  is impractical, unworkable, unaffordable and doesn’t provide better healthcare is the point at which the dream turns into a nightmare.

People are not mad about Obamacare because they hate Congress or President Obama or liberals or even conservatives. They are mad because the dream is turning into a personal nightmare. The intellectual or philosophical reasons it is failing  don’t really matter to them. They don’t like it because it isn’t working for them. The people got scammed, and now they can see it was a scam.

No one likes to give up on a dream. Utopia is the ultimate dream, but it isn’t real. The conservatives have to sell an old reality as a new dream. They haven’t yet invented the product that has wide market appeal, so their ROI is a bit short of its goal.

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