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One Moment, Please... Leadership

Thu, Oct 4th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

OK, so the dust has settled from the October 3rd Presidential Debate, and all of the pundits have weighed in on how the greatest show on Earth went down.

Now it's my turn.

This election isn't about electing one man over another. There is something bigger at play here in this election. There's an ideology at stake.

As always, the Democrats want to paint the Republicans as evil, heartless, money-grubbing, capitalist pigs. And, likewise, the Republicans want to portrait the Democrats as crazy, tree-hugging, socialists who believe in completely redistributing wealth at a level comparable to communism with no regard for long-term financial liability.

I think both parties are successful in delivering their messages, because both parties are mostly controlled by the extremists of their respective parties. Yes, that's who seems to get the most mic time, which makes all of us think our political options are purely black and white – polarized. But, the two political parties are polarized, not the American people.

What's most interesting to me is where or even how both political parties bury their political campaign dollars.

I listen to Minnesota Public Radio nearly every day, and I found a recent story about targeted campaigns to be of particular interest.

Did you know that in the 2008 election, Barack Obama ran ads within online video games like Need For Speed? So, as gamers were racing along in that game, a message or billboard would appear with Obama's “Vote For Change” branding message. What's even more interesting, is that interviews with gamers indicated they have never even seen a single ad. I know of a few serious gamers, and I think you could wave your hand in front of their face while they are playing their games and they wouldn't even flinch. So, I'm not surprised they wouldn't notice any ads. I am guessing there are a bunch of product placement ads within a lot of video games, and gamers don't even realize they are there – at least consciously.

This story of the advertisements in video games is telling another story of the bigger picture in how both camps – Democrats and Republicans – target their audiences and who they want to herd into their corner.

Democrats tend to target a younger audience that's more impressionable with less life experience and less net worth, but their target audience wants to save or change the world in some way. Their target audience is fresh out of high school or college, full of dreams and aspirations. This younger crowd is caught up in pop culture and celebrity happenings, which is why Democrats align themselves with all the biggest stars – younger stars. The Democrats are the masters of social media. Their biggest downfall in marketing is that they are targeting an audience that will become more conservative over time; hence, they have a transitional target audience. The other challenge facing the Democrats with this target audience is that younger voters are less likely to vote.

Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to focus their campaign efforts and messages on a loyal bunch. They don't step outside of the box on reaching younger voters. But, they are strong with older voters who are more likely to vote. I tend to think that Republicans are swayed by a religious platform to the degree that it hurts them. I guess it makes sense that the Republicans selected a Mormon, Mit Romney, who is strong in his faith. However, that can be a detraction for some, because America is a melting pot of all religions along with agnostics and atheists. And, when it comes to celebrities, yeah, Republicans have Clint Eastwood in their corner. I love Clint, and I think his talent as an actor is timeless. However, the Republicans need to align themselves with a batch of younger celebrities. That may be hard to do, since most celebrities seem to fall in the liberal direction. Simply put, when you're younger it is more trendy and cooler to be a liberal Democrat.

One size?

If one size fit all, there would never be a Democrat who was also a devout Catholic, because of the conflict between political platforms and religious beliefs with respect to abortion. Historically speaking, Catholics believe in a pro-life stance, and Democrats favor pro-choice. So, former President John F. Kennedy would have run as a Republican based on his Roman Catholic faith.

That's just one example, but there are many more conflicting beliefs that could be identified.

No, one size does not fit all.

Yet, our two party polarized political system forces agendas to pigeon hole us in one camp or the other. There are no moderate, independent candidates who can survive the campaign victory march to the White House.

In every election, I hear some people say that they don't like either candidate, so they are going to vote for the person they don't like the least. I know, that sounds like a double negative, speaking in terms of sentence structure. And, I'm not saying it's not. But, basically, what I keep hearing is that we are voting for the lowest common denominator, and that person becomes our next president. I guess that's democracy.

A real leader

And, while both the Democrats and the Republicans want to present the other party as “out of touch with reality,” the reality is that neither candidate is in touch with what it is like for any of us to go about our daily lives.

They are both millionaires. According to www.how-rich.com, Barack Obama shows a net worth of $10.5 million, while Mit Romney boasts a net worth estimated between $190 million and $250 million.

Ok, I'm taking an anonymous, real-time, straw poll here. By a show of hands, how many millionaires do we have reading this newspaper today? Probably not many.

So, both of our millionaire candidates are really not as in touch with our lifestyles as they'd like for us to believe. We are the commoners.

And, that's OK, I'd rather have a selection of presidential candidates who have had great financial success. That means they usually know how to establish a foundation of prosperity. So, if you're going to be a millionaire running for president, the more millions you've banked actually makes you more successful, right? Congrats to Romney in that regard, if that is the measuring stick.

To me, since both candidates are millionaires, I would hope that they are running for office to serve a greater purpose. It's not about earning the $400,000 per year that is paid to the President of the United States while serving their term and even receiving a fat paycheck for the rest of their lives after they leave office.

I knew the October 3rd President Debate would heavily revolve around three major domestic issues: jobs, healthcare and the economy.

But, you know what would have really impressed me?

Neither candidate told me they are a leader vested with a sense of ownership in the problems we are facing in America.

Those three major topics are real.

And, what would have really impressed me is if our next president said they would not take a paycheck until the economy was in a better state.

These millionaires don't need the money.

If they want to be the best, most selfless president in the history of our nation, don't take a paycheck. And, ask all members of Congress, U.S. Senate, and all elected officials down the pyramid scheme of our governmental structure to make concessions with their pay and/or benefits.

Lee Iacocca, the savior of Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s, was a leader. He pioneered the one-dollar annual salary. Now, of course, he had stock options that related to the financial performance of the company. However, the value of his stock was a long-term investment. So, he had to survive on $1.00 per year. He wasn't in it for the short-term. He is was in it for the long-haul. I know of long-time union workers who worked at Chrysler during Iacocca's tenure, and they respected him greatly.

So, I would like to see these candidates start a ripple effect of real change. Don't take a paycheck and encourage your political counterparts to make sacrifices. Our government is “too big to fail,” as has been referenced in other areas of our economy in the past few years. Why is that?

I think it is pretty simple. Our politicians dictating policy and entitlements for their own personal gain along with special interest groups is like having the fox guarding the hen house.

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