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Not The Party She Planned

Earlier today, in a crowded airport bookstore in Dallas, Texas, I watched former Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton concede to Senator Barack Obama on a hulky, flat screen TV with the sound off and the captions on. As the words slowly snaked along the bottom of the television, I noticed the sync with her voice was slightly off, giving the speech an eerily uneven timbre. With a grim sense of irony I realized this was an uncanny metaphoric coincidence, as I believe that Hillary Clinton’s inability to win the Democratic nomination was due to a profound failure in communication. She was unable to deliver a strong message until it was too late to matter; consequently she could never catch up with a competitor who, though less experienced and equally polarizing, fundamentally understood how to capture the nation’s imagination. Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the Democratic Presidential Nominee because of bad brand management.

the end
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Hillary came to the Presidential race with an odd sense of entitlement; she reeked of presumptive Democratic nominee, and this annoyed a plethora of primary voters. It seemed that once she finally made the decision to run for office, she behaved as if her decision alone was all that was necessary to win. But once Hillary threw her hat into the race, she literally threw it away. In hindsight, her presumption—her hubris—was her fatal flaw. All brand managers know there is no assumption of success when launching a new brand (even Apple’s eagerly anticipated launch of the iPhone had it’s nay-sayers and critics). It took Hillary an agonizingly long time to learn Brand Management 101: if nothing more, a brand must provide a consistent promise of a transformative experience. Yet, over the 16-month battle for leadership, she presented a myriad of messages to an ever-changing target market. She and her campaign consultants manufactured what seemed like weekly marketing platforms. They began with the inevitability of her nomination, then quickly morphed into finding her voice after she lost in Iowa and then rebounded in New Hampshire. Then they tried to compete with her long-term experience, then on to her electability via the powerful swing states, and finally, they were left to reveal what was actually authentic Hillary: a gritty, pugnacious, street smart fighter many people could relate to. As if this chaotic messaging wasn’t enough, Hillary and her consultants also kept switching her “sweet spot” target market from women to students to the working middle and lower-middle class to the elderly and finally to the super-delegates. Her message and her audience changed so many times, she began to appear as if she would say anything to anyone to win. What began as a rather energetic (if over-confident) Presidential effort evolved into a scrappy, unsophisticated, embarrassing fistfight unworthy of either contender. Given her perpetually unfocused campaign management and her Zelig-like public personality, it is no wonder she ultimately lost to a well-funded campaign with a consistent message of aspiration, hope and change.

I came to the primary campaign as an “undecided;” I admired both democratic candidates. My head was with Obama, but my heart was with Hillary. I admit that most of the affection I felt for Hillary was attributed to her making history as the first significant female candidate. “So what if I don’t agree with her handling of Bill and Monica,” I told myself, “She is a survivor. She can win!” But I also bristled at the idea of extending the Clinton dynasty. I was intrigued by the idea of wiping the slate of American government over the last 20 years clean and starting fresh. But I must admit that I liked Hillary just a smidgen more because we are both women. Somehow, deep down, I felt that a victory for Hillary was a victory for all women, everywhere. And though I never once uttered the words, this made me proud. It is one thing when Barbie can be an astronaut or a veterinarian or President of the United States, and quite another when a pear-shaped, middle-aged mother can do it.

I think that Hillary would have made a good President. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me. This is to be expected. But what I wasn’t prepared for in the opposition of all things Hillary was the rampant sexism. Her husband called the media coverage the “most biased coverage in history.” Her detractors pooh-poohed this as “competitive politics,” and offered witty, vitriolic one-liners in response (my favorite: the Harry Truman inspired “if you can’t stand the heat, go back into the kitchen”). I now worry about what the next female candidate will have to overcome in order to win, to say nothing of what she will be subjected to when campaigning.

Today, as I stood in a busy bookstore in front of a silent television in the historically Republican state of Texas, a group of women gathered to watch with me. Some were old, some were young, some were somewhere in the middle. One blonde mom asked the black, female shopkeeper if she would mind turning the volume up, and she gladly complied. We watched Hillary concede with what seemed like a smile masking deep despair. It is hard to fail; it is unthinkable to imagine what it must be like to admit defeat to those who zealously applauded—and needed—your gargantuan effort. As we all stood there watching, a man behind us laughed and muttered “Evil bitch.” I whipped around; I could not believe what I was hearing. Ever the loud mouth, I tried to find the words to berate him, but I found myself uncharacteristically speechless. As I stared at him in utter shock, he laughed again, puffed out his chest, snarled his teeth and walked away. I looked at the woman standing next to me and she rolled her eyes. I turned back to Hillary as she continued, “Eighteen million of you from all walks of life: women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-America and Caucasian, rich and poor, middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me…and I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me…the Democratic Party is a family and now it’s time to restore the ties that bind us together.”

In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t respond to the snarly-toothed man. There has been more than enough bitterness in this race already. My only regret is that he left before hearing Hillary’s heartfelt, heartbreaking request.

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ARCHIVE ID 4885 FILED UNDER Essays
PUBLISHED ON Jun.07.2008 BY debbie millman
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Ashley’s comment is:

GREAT post. Thanks for the story :)

On Jun.08.2008 at 12:09 AM
james puckett’s comment is:

This post is the most vile application I have seen so far of the elitist notion that designers are special people with knowledge of some all-powerful world changing force. You are stretching that notion to dismiss Barack Obama’s triumph by blaming bad design for Hillary Clinton’s loss. Would it really kill you to admit that Clinton lost because Obama had a better message in the first place, and that best brand management in the world wouldn’t have helped Clinton?

On Jun.08.2008 at 12:39 AM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

James, your comment is the most vile misreading of a post I've seen in a long time. Reread the post and understand what Debbie means by "brand management". To whit: "it is no wonder she ultimately lost to a well-funded campaign with a consistent message of aspiration, hope and change." i.e., she said it before you. Debbie didn't blame "bad design"; in fact, she never used the word "design" once. She's not talking about logos.

On Jun.08.2008 at 12:58 AM
Robynne’s comment is:

Interesting post Debbie - thanks. I never got behind her just because she was one of my "kind". But I too think that if Hillary's message had been consistent, smart and direct things may have turned out differently. She became everything she initially stood against. And that is bad "brand management".

On Jun.08.2008 at 01:09 AM
Robynne’s comment is:

Thank You Marian.

On Jun.08.2008 at 01:10 AM
james puckett’s comment is:

I was directly responding to this statement:

Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the Democratic Presidential Nominee because of bad brand management.

Maybe I’ve stretched by putting brand management under the label of design. The two seem pretty intimately tied together to me, so I’ll leave it that way. But I’ll share some of a longer response I emailed to Debbie about why I find the notion of a campaign losing because of poor brand management to be so offensive:

“If bad brand management is to blame for the failure of a political juggernaut, then brand management must be an incredibly special thing, a thing more important than a message that has inspired people on a scale not seen in decades, more important than all the personal experiences of the thousands of people who met the candidates, and more important than the deeper truths inherent in national politics that can't just be manipulated away with careful branding the way that, say, the corporate malfeasance of Coca-Cola can. To attribute so much to branding doesn't just elevate branding and design, it belittles quite a lot of other things.”

I really dislike the notion that this campaign came down to managing messages, and not the messages themselves. In Debbie’s essay I don’t find acknowledgment that voters chose Obama’s message because it was better, instead I find her lamenting that the Clinton messages were too chaotic to beat what was a better message to begin with.

On Jun.08.2008 at 01:21 AM
Jesse Woodward’s comment is:

Good read... probably the best thing I've read over this whole campaign between the two of them.

Let's all hope for the best in the future.

On Jun.08.2008 at 01:24 AM
Kelley’s comment is:

As a woman I have felt for Hillary, it is difficult to navigate presenting oneself to gain support from others, especially overcoming deeply ingrained biases. We have overcome many, but as that individual in the bookstore represents — we still have some to overcome.

As a designer and brand steward, I have felt like Debbie where is the consistent brand message that could be used as a platform to leap from? It was the major flaw in the campaign. It is understandable but disheartening that Hillary would have difficultly figuring out how to frame her message to connect with the country.

James - I recommend you read some of Marshall McLuhan's work: http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/.

On Jun.08.2008 at 01:26 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

I sympathize for Hilary, and it's unfortunate that only one of these Democratic hopefuls can go onto lead the country. However, I thought Hilary lost to Obama because she looks too calculating (unnatural).

On Jun.08.2008 at 03:21 PM
Alex K’s comment is:

James wrote:

"I really dislike the notion that this campaign came down to managing messages, and not the messages themselves."

And I completely agree with him. Obama's core message was about changing Washington, and the reason it was easy for him to stick to this message is because he truly believed it. He was authentic and genuine.

Meanwhile, Hillary had trouble keeping a consist message, because she, like a typical politician, was just trying to say whatever necessary to get elected. She never wanted to change Washington, because she *was* Washington. She said it best at the start, "I'm in, and I'm in to win." Now *that* was her speaking the truth. She just wanted to get into the White House, any way possible and by any means necessary.

To that end, she and her husband threw various racist attacks at Obama to try and keep him down. Debbie, sounding quite white in her essay, never commented on these disgusting and sad attempts by the Clintons to paint Obama as the 'black' candidate.

And I think as the campaign wore on, people began to see Hillary's true colors: she was a fraud, a chameleon, a real snake. And I am a man and don't say this in a sexist way -- both she and Bill are sad and ugly creatures.

Debbie, it didn't just "began to appear as if she would say anything to anyone to win", it really was true that she was saying anything to win -- including saying that McCain was better qualified to lead this country than Obama (breaking the cardinal rule of politics.)

Hillary's "kitchen sink" strategy failed, and now we all have a real chance to create real change in Washington.

Debbie, next time, please pay more attention to what is really going on, and stop being such a self-absorbed middle-aged white woman projecting your own frustrations onto your heroes.

On Jun.08.2008 at 03:41 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

I think the "brand management" phrase seems to imply that choices people make about everything from cake mix to presidential races really come down to nothing but the presentation. Could it be that at least part of the explanation is that the system worked, that people learned about the candidates and chose the one they liked better?

There are many reasons that Clinton went from being the presumptive next POTUS to (barely) losing the primary. Before I'd simplify it to "bad brand management" I'd be inclined to go one further and just say that much of the problem was just "bad brand."

On Jun.08.2008 at 03:42 PM
Another Middle-Aged White Woman’s comment is:

Debbie, sounding quite white in her essay...

Debbie, next time, please pay more attention to what is really going on, and stop being such a self-absorbed middle-aged white woman projecting your own frustrations onto your heroes.

This post is the most vile application I have seen so far
...

Is it just me, or are Alex and James the ones that are vile, racist and sexist? How in the hell was Debbie "projecting her own frustrations onto her heroes"? She wrote a piece about assessing Hillary's campaign and its failures. You two are insane.

On Jun.08.2008 at 05:50 PM
edwin rivera’s comment is:

Alex K.--

Perhaps the next time you feel the urge to press your own self-absorbed and quite odorous opinions upon an unwilling public, you would do well to accurately cite an article's quotation by using proper grammar. To wit: "Debbie, it didn't just 'began to appear . . .'" Your slight brainwork is not aided by the fact that you sound like Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel.

Also, it doesn't help that you yourself sound like a frustrated middle-aged white guy, even if you aren't. But since I have no idea who you are, or why you deign to put your two cents in, who cares? It is just more meaningless maundering for the mauling machine.

Needless to say, when one is engaging in a political discussion of an intellectual nature, I can't see how the discourse could be advanced by fretting your argument with personal attacks. Writing of this kind is corrosive to discussion, and carries a lot of baggage; perhaps you have something personal against the author due to your own debilitations and malfunctions. A word of advice: the next time you wish to foul the air with your excremental dialogue, you might do well to keep your slanderous tongue in check if you want anyone to take seriously what you have to say. Whiny dookey-pants crybabies sit around jabbering helplessly, and that is exactly how you portray yourself.

Next time do your homework, so you can rouse a proper attack with proper armaments, as opposed to shoddy bombs lobbed from a safe corner. Because if you think that politicians are honorable, noble creatures who seek to define themselves and their nations solely by the changes they seek to instill, then you have just crawled out of a cave to greet a smoking sun, where you bowed down to it with drool slobbering down your prognathous jaw. Wake up, pal: this is the age of brand management whether you like it or not. You either work the system, or you will be perpetually outside of it.

On Jun.08.2008 at 06:04 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Is it just me, or are Alex and James the ones that are vile, racist and sexist?

Angela/White Woman:

I don't know that it just you but those are serious charges. The charge of sexism should not be considered so lightly that any opposition to anything by a woman is tarred by the charge. The end result of that would only be the erosion of the term as something serious and, dare I say, vile. Can you give us specific analysis of that charge?

As to racism, I am at a loss to understand any basis for your claim. Care to enlighten?

On Jun.08.2008 at 06:08 PM
Another Middle-Aged White Woman’s comment is:

How does someone sound "quite white"?

On Jun.08.2008 at 06:32 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Angela/White Woman,

I don't think that "sounding quite white" is the best description for Debbie's having decried sexism that undermined the Clinton campaign while failing to mention overt plays to racism made by the Clintons. Calling that description "racist" is quite a stretch, however.

James and Alex both chose what I thought were unduly combative tones. I would have preferred that their arguments had been phrased in a more civil manner both for the sake of the quality of discourse and because of my personal fondness for Debbie. They made specific arguments, however. While their tone may not have been my preference, their points were well reasoned. Both you and Edwin Rivera responded by ignoring their points and with general dismissal and ad hominem attacks.

On Jun.08.2008 at 09:15 PM
Alex K’s comment is:

Gunnar Swanson is sounding quite Obama-like in seeking the high road and in finding the common ground, you are a better person than me, and I admire you for that.

I also admire Debbie Millman for her radio program, as a graphic designer I am proud of her efforts in giving our field more exposure --- so my combative tone is probably unwarranted.

However, Debbie chose to stick her nose, sorry, I mean give her opinion, on a very important, emotional, and charged subject, and she should be willing to take honest, critical, informed comments on her essay.

And to me, these sort of 'innocent, thoughtful' essays that don't discuss the actual issue (as James noticed), but how the issue was "packaged", those type of essays drive me crazy, because they are complete and utter crap.

And what I mean is that Debbie, being a self-absorbed designer, and not a serious, insightful, political observer, minimized the real issue at hand, and didn't see what Obama was really fighting for. To Debbie, both candidates were similar, both were good, both were Democrats, and the only difference is that he was "on message" and she had a "scattered message."

Now *that* is a shockingly untrue and overly simplified take on the Obama/Clinton battle, and a very dangerous narrative to try and impose on our current politics.

As a quick example, Hillary Clinton voted in favor of invading Iraq. She did not do her homework, and she trusted Bush. Thanks to her and others, Bush & Cheney were given the authority to invade Iraq, and now over 4,000 American soldiers are dead, and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis are also dead.

*This* has nothing to do with brand management, and everything to do with moral courage, values, and integrity.

I could write more, but I will stop now. Anyone who wants to really try to understand the Obama/Clinton difference, please see Lawrence Lessig's Youtube essay "20 minutes or so about why I am 4Barack"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdDzvmY1XPo

Cheers,
AK

On Jun.08.2008 at 10:53 PM
Greg Scraper’s comment is:

There have been a plethora of "Why she lost" stories out there for a few weeks now, most of which focus on a similar concept as that of Debbie's post here. But I watched both of them speak several times, and I don't think Hillary's loss has anything to do with bad brand management, or bad brand. Frankly, sometimes people lose because you can't have two winners. They both ran great primaries and would make fantastic presidents; can't it just be left at that?

On Jun.09.2008 at 12:17 AM
minus five’s comment is:

i thought james puckett's comment was bad, but he's going to have to work a little harder to catch up to alex.

branding has been around, i'm guessing, since the beginning of time. it just didn't have a name.

james and alex, i've been all about barack since the first time i heard him speak at the dnc, and i've never had much love or affection for hillary, but this kind of rock throwing is beyond ridiculous. how do you expect to be heard or listened to if you speak the way you have? why would anybody consider what you're saying or if you're right or wrong after the way you've presented your arguments?

drawing lines in the sand is kind of a neat game, i guess, but that's about all you've done. as much as you profess your disdain for bush and cheney and those close-minded kids on the right, you've just made the exact same error. only you're on the left.

you might want to give this post another read and give it some consideration. i'm all for disagreeing and even being painfully blunt, but you've gone beyond that. it seems that you've missed barack's message entirely.

On Jun.09.2008 at 12:37 AM
trav’s comment is:

I love Barrack, but James, you just did not understand the post at all.

On Jun.09.2008 at 10:41 AM
Daniel’s comment is:

"I admit that most of the affection I felt for Hillary was attributed to her making history as the first significant female candidate."

You have to be careful with that kind of positive sexism Debbie, or you could end up like us Brits, with Maggie Thatcher!

On Jun.09.2008 at 11:02 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

"I really dislike the notion that this campaign came down to managing messages, and not the messages themselves."

Me too. Alas, that notion is pretty much the reality.

Presidential elections in the US have little to do with substance and a lot to do with image. It is brand management, in the end, that plays the major role in the outcome.

Obama, who I think is a well reasoned person who will make a great president, really didn't have much of a message. Change. What's that mean? Nothing, really. But he was consistent. VERY consistent.

As for Hilary, it wasn't so much her inconsistency, but the overwhelming success of her opponents brand management:

"And I think as the campaign wore on, people began to see Hillary's true colors: she was a fraud, a chameleon, a real snake."

Her pundit opponents painted her with this type of branding quite successfully. They were able to polarize opinions amazingly well. Sad, but effective.

We'll see how the GOP fares this year without the king of all Political Brand Managers, Karl Rove.

On Jun.09.2008 at 11:59 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

A few years ago I asked myself why I write stuff read mainly by graphic designers who, of course, are highly unlikely to hire me. Writing something aimed at potential clients seemed like a much better business plan.

After looking at various business and business/design writers' work, I decided I couldn't stand to do it. The successful ones "stay on point" (as they say in the political biz.) When I was a 17-year-old Marxist, I could play the economic six degrees of Kevin Bacon game and explain why capitalism and its inevitable result, imperialism, was the cause of everything bad. Thirty years later, I was amazed by the ability of the early Dubbya administration to make lowering taxes the answer to every question: "You have cancer and a bus ran over your puppy? Lowered taxes will encourage medical research and the improved economy will spark the proliferation of private dog parks!"

I can't do that now. As the saying goes, for every complex question, there is a simple answer (and it is wrong.) When staying on point means you only have one point, it represents a deficiency rather than clarity.

The reduction of political campaigns to as few bumper stickers as possible is hardly something to be celebrated. I suspect that's one reason that there was some strong negative reaction to the "brand management" thing. "Giuliani puts his strength where the dirt is." "McCain is the real thing." "Obama; Think Different." "Ron Paul: Have it your way." "Clinton is number two so she tries harder."

I share the disgust/moral outrage and also much of the cynicism about politics as product promotion put forth in various comments here. Clever copywriting, nice banners, and a sharp marketing team is not the whole and only explanation of electoral outcomes. James' reaction should be extended to non-political branding efforts: The idea that brands can be "managed" completely independently of product attributes is repulsive. When applied to a significant factor in the material future of the world (such as the US presidency), it is more so.

Debbie --
Going off (that) point, I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about the differences between group identification or tribalism and racism and/or sexism. For instance, you said that most of the affection [you] felt for Hillary was attributed to her making history as the first significant female candidate. Was it just the history making (like the tendency to project good traits onto Charles Lindbergh, John Glenn, or Rosa Parks) or was it that you found it easier to see yourself and your aspirations through someone who is like you in obvious superficial ways? You said that you liked Hillary just a smidgen more because [you] are both women. How is that like and unlike someone backing a white male or an evangelical Christian or someone with a particular accent because he is "like me/one of us" or opposing someone who is not white or not male because that person isn't "like me/one of us"?

On Jun.09.2008 at 12:32 PM
myfreakinuserid’s comment is:

Hillary lost because she didn't look as cool as Obama while riding bikes.

On Jun.09.2008 at 03:15 PM
Whaleroot’s comment is:

I am loving reading this discussion but for crying out loud please take consideration to spell names properly! Here's a directory:

Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton

I don't mean to be a dick but it's just bothersome. Plus I guarantee your comments will hold more validity.

On Jun.09.2008 at 03:26 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

I was asked:

Was it just the history making (like the tendency to project good traits onto Charles Lindbergh, John Glenn, or Rosa Parks) or was it that you found it easier to see yourself and your aspirations through someone who is like you in obvious superficial ways?

It was simply the history making. Hillary broke through a barrier that no one else was able to do before. There is an interesting article written by Gail Collins about this here.

You said that you liked Hillary just a smidgen more because [you] are both women. How is that like and unlike someone backing a white male or an evangelical Christian or someone with a particular accent because he is "like me/one of us" or opposing someone who is not white or not male because that person isn't "like me/one of us"?

For good or for bad, it is exactly like that, and I am confused about how this makes me feel.

Regarding some of the other questions and comments about branding, particularly that capitalism is the cause of everything bad, some responses: In our current economy, brands represent a huge portion of the value of a company and its biggest source of profits. As a result, corporations have evolved from manufacturing products to marketing aspirations, images and lifestyles. I read the following in The Economist, but I don’t remember which issue it is from, “Brands have become the stalking horses for international capitalism.”

That being said, after working in the business for 15 years, I believe that branding is more complicated than some of the comments have asserted in this discussion. I tend to agree with Jonathan Bond and Richard Kirschenbaum who believe that “Consumers are like roaches. We spray them with marketing, and for a time, it works. Then, inevitably, they develop an immunity, a resistance.” When consumers like a brand they reward that affection with cash. If they don't like a brand, they don’t buy it.

100 years ago, building a brand was simple. A logo provided a straightforward guarantee of safety, quality and consistency and consumers understood that they were paying a premium for safety, quality and consistency. At that time, building a brand nationally required advertising on a handful of television and radio stations documenting the products functional attributes: how the product tasted better or drove faster. It was much easier then than it is now for brands to become hugely powerful. At that time, shopping was still a local business and competition was limited, and a successful brand could maintain its lead and high prices for years.

Like it or not, marketing today is primarily about building a brand—not a product—to sell a lifestyle or a personality. This is done by appealing to emotions and includes almost everything—from sneakers to baseball teams to talk show hosts to elected officials. In the process, brands now provide us with beliefs. Luckily, we are free to accept them or reject them. But if we deliberately choose a brand, the brand inevitably contributes to the definition of who we are and it telegraphically signals our affiliations. This requires a deep understanding of human psychology and it is a much harder task than describing the virtues of a specific product or person. Most marketers have to struggle to create these types of feelings for their brands. Some make it look effortless—Nike or Apple, for example. Others find it more difficult and constantly try to reinvent themselves. In the process, they lose the essence of their original appeal. I think that Starbucks might be in the midst of this dilemma.

Successful brands today must stand for product quality AND a desirable image. They must also signal something authentic about the company or the person behind the brand. In this regard, I totally I agree with what some of the posters suggest above, particularly that the message of the candidates is critical to the assessment of the candidate. But I also believe that Senator Obama ran a better campaign managing those messages than Senator Clinton. Obama was more effective communicating his message, his beliefs—and what I believe is his brand—than Hillary was.

One last comment regarding design: We may not believe that the political posters or the typefaces the candidates use make us vote one way or the other; in isolation, I doubt that the use of Optima will motivate anyone to vote for McCain. But every single bit of visual and verbal public communication a candidate puts out either supports, detracts, distracts or confuses those that see it. Our reactions may be conscious or sub-conscious, but if we see something or hear something, our brain can’t help but organize the information. Even the action of ignoring something is an action. Everything we see and hear is assessed, judged and organized in relation to our beliefs.

On Jun.09.2008 at 03:35 PM
james puckett’s comment is:

I just want to apologize to everybody for my original post. I’m bipolar, and sometimes my mood swings start happening rapidly and I go completely of the rails and don’t realize it. The last couple of days were one of those times.

However much I disagree with any author, they deserve far better retorts than the loathsome rubbish I fired off a few days ago. Whether anyone disagrees with me or not, please don’t do it with the batshit-crazy level of vitriol I was kicking out last weekend.

On Jun.09.2008 at 06:41 PM
Pesky ’s comment is:

Everyone goes a little batshit crazy sometimes, James. You're not the only one.

Everyone wants so much to see positive political change happen in this country that we almost forgot civility. It's been off the rails for so long that we forget we're in the same country...more or less.

Personally I don't see change happening any time soon, since the post-Kennedy coup d’état, but then again I don't think there's democracy here anymore just product placement. Cynical? Sure, whatever.

I can see why some women are bitter about Hillary's loss whether it was as a result of sexism or her personal limitations. If anything positive comes out of this it's that other women will follow, and eventually lead. And it won't be about gender but genuine courage. That day will come.

On Jun.10.2008 at 09:03 AM
Tom Cox’s comment is:

I have followed this thread and the Democratic race with great interest. I believe Debbie nailed it with both her post and follow-up comments.

With any relationship, like it or not, the management and delivery of the message is not separate from your message. I believe Hillary, like many corporate executives who have been leading their company for years, thought her brand was in good shape. She never thought about focusing on new technology to reach new "consumers", or refining her message with a clear focus. Had she and her team thought about such things, I believe the overall design of her campaign would have been greatly improved and the initial surge her competition received would have been diminished.

To echo Debbie's last point, the days of thoughtlessly ignoring your total brand communication are history. I believe your brand image is either making you money or costing you money. The Democratic Presidential race bared that out in more ways than one.

The hurdle for the Obama campaign now, is to stay on point. The McCain campaign will try to use his past associates and town hall debates to fragment his message, which could dilute the overall image of his brand.

A side note of perspective. I am a Christian, white male, pro free enterprise - less government, conservative, designer. I know, please don't hurt me. So I say all the above totally realizing the brand communication of conservative(what a terrible moniker) leadership is in total disarray.

On Jun.10.2008 at 09:23 AM
adam’s comment is:

this was a good post, and i agree that "presentation" and "brand management" are what politics are all about nowadays. its a shame. and a sham. its like, if one of the candidates is speaking off the cuff, and they word something that could be misconstrued or be taken wrong out of context, the other party will take that one statement and make some huge deal out of it. hillary did this with a comment that barack made in pittsburg, i beleive it was. this made me lose a huge deal of respect for her and her campaign.

i would rather the candidates be able to speak their minds and say what they feel then have their speaches and comments be over-rehearsed and written by someone else. they are humans, humans are not always perfect. sometimes we say things that are not what everyone wants to hear.

i also think its unfortunate that hillary almost won simply because she is a woman and could have been the first female president. that is definitely NOT the proper way to vote.

On Jun.10.2008 at 01:07 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"i also think its unfortunate that hillary almost won simply because she is a woman"

I'd prefer that over the typical 'they won simply because they were an old white dude' default that we've had for oh...200+ years. ;o)

On Jun.10.2008 at 01:11 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

i also think its unfortunate that hillary almost won simply because she is a woman and could have been the first female president.

I think it's unfortunate that this argument is continually made when it is ridiculous and false. Hillary had a message that clearly resonated with millions of people. That's why she almost won. If being a woman were the only qualification to get votes, we would have already had President Pat Schroeder.

On Jun.10.2008 at 01:39 PM
flasky jameson’s comment is:

Darrel wrote: "We'll see how the GOP fares this year without the king of all Political Brand Managers, Karl Rove."

Sadly, I'm sure Mister Rove WILL be pulling the strings again at some point, albeit without attribution. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Great discussion, personal jabs notwithstanding. Perhaps one day we can learn to converse again...there are some sites, e.g. huffpo, that I've basically abandoned due to the idiocy of the "comment" threads. I admit it's easy to get caught up in the moment; I've done it myself.

Thanks, Debbie.

On Jun.10.2008 at 01:46 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Debbie,

I'm interested in the stalking horse metaphor. Procter & Gamble will hide behind Tide until the perfect moment to jump out and shoot me? Probably. But how does that apply to politicians' brands? Halliburton hid behind the George W. Bush brand until the perfect time for Dick Cheney to jump out and shoot his hunting partner?

Tom Cox tells us that Obama needs to stay on point but I hope that means not getting drawn into irrelevant quibbles rather than promoting a Dubbyaesque simplification of everything into a neat slogan. The appeal of both major parties' presumptive candidates is that, at least when they are at their best, they come across as thoughtful human beings with an understanding of complexity rather than as panderbots.

The realization that complexity and clarity are not mutually exclusive is vital for the stewards of all sorts of brands. We shouldn't lose sight of what was perhaps Debbie's most important point: Successful brands today must stand for product quality AND a desirable image. Merely being the best choice can leave you as the new Betamax but it is worth noting that Apple and Nike make fairly consistently good products. They are, despite the impression one might get from a too-brief summary of Naomi Klein, not just bullshit brand management machines.

I resist (and even resent) the implication that politics is nothing but "brand management" in the sense of "putting out the 'right' message." In some ways, however, the whole brand thing applies more than it does for product brands.

Clinton asked us who we wanted picking up the phone at 3:00 a.m. That question comes down to "Who do you trust to deal with issues not on the table during this campaign?" I didn't like anyone's healthcare plan but I thought hers was the strongest. I did, however, come to the conclusion that her natural responses were short term and self-serving.

As much as policy may be important, leadership goes beyond agreement on a path. The notion that a brand is or was out front is (even if factually untrue) vital. (Oreos and Helvetica were the leaders and Hydrox and Univers aren't quite as genuine despite Sunshine and Frutiger having been first but that's another story.)

In politics, the "who do you trust" thing is not unreasonable. It is, however, unfortunate that so many people trust people because they are superficially like themselves. I hope that we can look back at this time as the end of the black guy and woman era just as we can look back on 1960 as the end of the Roman Catholic era. (I suspect that Mitt Romney hopes 2012 is the end of the Mormon era.)

Doesn't "vitriol" sound like a glassware conditioning liquid? There's a brand I can manage.

On Jun.10.2008 at 01:49 PM
Peter Sullivan’s comment is:

Well, maybe we'll have both on the Democratic ticket. Hopefully, Obama will take care of the brand management of the team. I can't take another Republican in office.

On Jun.10.2008 at 05:01 PM
erica frye’s comment is:

This point has been addressed briefly in a few letters, but it's so important it bears repeating: Brand management does not equal spin and marketing. This is about developing content from the ground up, not just packaging it.

Branding is often viewed as a surface treatment, but that's not what I mean when I talk about branding, and I'm pretty sure it's not what Debbie means either. If I were in charge of "brand management" of a candidate, my job start with helping the candidate identify and define these things:

A. Core values and personality traits of the campaign/administration
B. Key messages and/or platforms
C. Top few audiences and/or core constituencies
D. Tone and style that supports all of the above

Then, the more traditionally recognized brand role kicks in. Ensure every message reinforces and advances the core values and speaks effectively to the identified audience using a consistent tone and style. Rinse and repeat.

In my opinion the prevailing reason to do all of this isn't to be consistently "on message" -- rather, the hard work of digging deep and keeping only the good bits is like mining for gold. It's already there; you just have to identify it. If you have a true, honest story to tell and you know who you're telling it to, then selling takes care of itself because you're not actually "selling"! You're just presenting your story. (Hence, Obama won over HIlary.)

The key, of course, is it all has to be true. You can't manufacture authenticity.

On Jun.11.2008 at 01:30 PM
felix sockwell’s comment is:

Great post deb. One of your best. Insightful. A dead on observation. Except for one oversight: you say "in the historically Republican state of Texas"... but you forget we elected one of the first and best women ever to serve as Guv before Dub, the late great Ann Richards. Great woman. May she RIP.


On Jun.11.2008 at 01:49 PM
Tom Cox’s comment is:

Extremely well said Erica.

On Jun.11.2008 at 02:01 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"Brand management does not equal spin and marketing."

I'm not entirely sure definitions for any of those terms are universally agreed upon nor carved into stone...ESPECIALLY in the context of politics.

On Jun.11.2008 at 02:25 PM
erica frye’s comment is:

Darrel: You're right that there is no universally agreed-upon definition. That's why so many people were misreading the essay, and why I commented. Perhaps I should have said: "Brand management does not have to equal spin and marketing."

I can be soap-box-y on this topic. It drives me crazy that so many people (inside and out of the industry) consider design and branding to be little more than fluff. I do a lot more than make things pretty, and I don't like being lumped in with those who don't.

On Jun.12.2008 at 12:08 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

I'm still trying to figure out brand management as it applies to politicians. Erica suggests defining core values and personality traits and key messages and/or platforms then presenting them well and consistently. That's reasonable.

But when a product is defective, one rarely calls that a brand management failure. Product quality is vital to a brand so you can say that just about everything a company does is brand management. Yes. Exploding gas tanks harmed the Pinto brand. Ford made bad brand management decisions. Anyone discussing the demise of the Pinto might look slightly silly saying that it was the result of a brand management failure even though it's clear that their brand would have been stronger if they'd only been selling a better car.

When "brand management" gets separated from just plain management, isn't it a reasonable inference that image is being considered and perhaps at the expense of considering substance? Doesn't saying that Obama won because he did a better job of brand management seem to imply that the products were interchangeable but ads and PR for one side tipped the scales?

The race in question was close enough that almost any "if only" scenario could be plausible but one could make a reasonable argument that, as Shakespeare put it, the fault, dear Hillary, is not in our brands but in ourselves.

On Jun.12.2008 at 09:43 AM
erica frye’s comment is:

Gunnar: You bring up a valid point. In my first comment I changed my wording to say I thought Debbie would agree with my interpretation rather than claiming she definitely would because of this exact issue. Someone else upthread had said this was a failure of the brand, not management of it. I can argue semantics, but overall I think it is correct.

I could argue that brand management is fully intertwined in forming the brand and the politician herself is ultimately both the brand and the brand manager so brand management is inherent in any brand failures ... however, saying she lost due to management (brand or otherwise) does perhaps suggest parity of products.

And it is worth debating that despite my desire to elevate the term branding, perhaps we should narrow it as well -- you're right, politics are different. They are a personality first, brand second, and politics isn't business (or shouldn't be). Many of the basics remain the same, but calling everything a brand, from personal style to cities to politicians, may be a mistake.

On Jun.12.2008 at 01:20 PM
marko savic’s comment is:

The problem with Hilary was her misunderstanding of the current political climate and not having a backup plan when she lost Super Tuesday. Her "brand" failed by not addressing the proper target market initially (the American people) and began to make up ground as she retooled her message, even if it was too late in the game.

Most claims of sexism in the media seem to ignore the plague of pitfalls the Clinton campaign suffered, and the populist media appeal of Barack Obama. The media simply became exhausted by the Clinton fatigue. If you argue sexism, equally argue racism. The candidates were treated fairly.

Hillary ran a great campaign, she is a great politician, but she did not run as a candidate who happens to be woman, instead she ran as the "Female Candidate." Barack Obama ran not as a black candidate, but a candidate who happens to be black. The difference is subtle, but it made all the difference.

The choice should never have been, "are you sexist, or are you racist?"

On Jun.13.2008 at 04:45 AM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

When considering brand management techniques in this political campaign, I see a couple wrinkles--

In politics, there can be a lot more consideration given to defining your opponent than in most brand management which usually attempts to define the product/service it's attempting to promote.

Second, a brand represents the total sum of our experience with a given product or service (candidate). Marketing, messaging, and design all play a role in trying to reflect and enhance the brand experience, but they cannot by nature define it. This is done by the consumer.

With Hillary Clinton we have (had) a candidate who has been in the public eye for the better part of two decades. I'll suggest that she has a much deeper brand awareness than Barack Obama. She had a much bigger challenge to manage the various perceptions of her, and attempt to establish a clear and consistent message of what she had to offer the American voter.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, was able to define himself more clearly since most people knew little about him other than his books and eloquent speeches. I'd say our brand experience with Barack is one of consistency. Barack's team could "manage the brand" better because that was really a large part of what voters had to work with. and Change is pretty dang hard to argue with.

---------

The Century of the Self is a fascinating documentary by filmmaker Adam Curtis about the roots of the modern political marketing machinery. The tone is kind of heavy-handed, but the perspective is great. The entire series is viewable online. Episode 4 is a good summary.

On Jun.13.2008 at 05:04 AM
Whaleroot’s comment is:

With so much emphasis and argument on the element of race and gender in this election I have this story to tell.

I was in a restaurant for breakfast one morning and there happened to be an African-American women sitting with her Caucasian friend (also female) next to me. Because I am a serial people-watcher and public eavesdropper I couldn't help listening to their conversation about who they were planning on voting for. The African-American women was going on about how she was torn between the two democratic candidates because on one hand she was a female but on the other she was black. Upon hearing this I rudely interrupted but politely said "You should probably vote for whomever you agree with politically." I left a few minutes later.

The broad stroke of my rant is that people really should focus on the politics in... politics. Not to say that it's wrong to resonate with someone running for office because they are your same race or gender but, that can't be all there is to it. Personally, I feel both candidates ran a good campaign but I feel Obama ran a better one and spoke with more needed passion and sobriety conveying the true essence of "change". I agree with his politics and his plans for bringing change to the country (even though, honestly, it will take years and years to undo what the Bush administration has done—even if Obama served 2 consecutive terms and ran a perfect office he would only have skimmed the surface of shit that needs fixing).

I believe Obama's brand management did lead somewhat to his success but it wasn't the leading cause (see above). For a candidate that virtually no one knew anything about before this election the way he handled his brand made him more grounded, official, and trustworthy. For a grassroots organization (of any kind) brand management is important to convey a certain professional element to people that helps them break through the barrier of "can we trust this?". Think about it and compare it to the other "grassroots" campaigns—Ron Paul, Howard Dean, etc.—next to Obama they appear simply unorganized. In fact, you could probably compare it to any campaign, grassroots or not. So while McCain rides off of his reputation and (bluntly put) ignorance Obama will have a brand that continues to project onto people his ideas and plans for change.

One more thing—sorry I can't resist—Peter, there's no way that there'll be an Obama/Clinton ticket. Sure they believe and support the same changes needed in Washington but they work in complete opposite ways. They'd end up canceling each other out. But I'm with you in not being able to stand another Republican in the White House (especially McCain!) but I think that—even though it's likely to be a close call—the Dems have an excellent chance at winning this election. Start clubbing Southern Baptists now.

On Jun.14.2008 at 04:01 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Much was made about Bill Clinton being the first black president. Susan Faludi says that Link: Obama could be the first woman president.

On Jun.15.2008 at 05:52 PM
Kai’s comment is:

First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Debbie's post and all of the thoughtful comments. This is the most engaging discussion I've read in a long time. Although I agreed with most of Debbie's comments, I do have qualms about her argument that the goal of a "brand" is to maintain a consistent message, rather than making the message itself consistent with the thoughts and ideas of the "brand." It's the difference between being articulate and being honest. It's the difference between looking good and actually being good. As Erika pointed out, the goal is to be both articulate AND honest. To look good AND be good.
I think everyone can agree that Barack's campaign looked and sounded great (no Republican disputes his ability to speak, and no graphic designer disputes the quality of his logo or typeface choice). Right now, however, the media (including this blog) is assessing whether Barack actually has the substance to back up his image, and this type of assessment which elevates the importance of branding or typography above the integrity of the person can be seen as belittling.
The reason Barack's aesthetics are so successful is because they reflect the substance of his "brand" . Those who try to belittle his success by attributing it to his rhetoric or oratory skills most likely haven't read his books. Furthermore, do we designers hail Barack's graphic design because Gotham is a superiorly crafted typeface to McCain's Optima? If McCain had used Gotham consistently throughout his campaign, would we be hailing him for his knowledge of contemporary typography? Or would we recognize the disconnect between his image and his ideas? In my opinion, Optima, which was designed in 1958 by Herman Zapf (coincidentlly the same year John McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy) is actually as successful of a typeface choice as Gotham is for Obama? Is it possible that we admire Obama's visual identity more than McCain's because we admire Obama ideas and values more than McCain's? Is it possible that Obama's "brand management" was more successful than Hillary's because Obama was confident and consistent in what he believed and was able to project those beliefs honestly and articulately, whereas Hillary was perhaps more concerned with constructing an image from the beginning which was inconsistent with her actual ideas and thus was forced to "manage" her "brand". The failure then, was not in the brand management but in thinking of candidates as "brands", ideas as "messages", and people as "audiences".

With that said, I think Debbie's post was honest, fair, and well-written. The majority of my criticism was sparked by her wonderful writing, rather than being a direct response to it.

On Jun.15.2008 at 10:59 PM
J.B. Chaykowsky’s comment is:

As a young designer of the ripe age of 26, I find all of these blog posts on Design Observer to the NYT to Speak up about the "branding" of the politicians pretty entertaining.

Though I take politics very seriously in my own mind I never try to convince others about my view point because most of the time it become a ceaseless circle of point and counter-point. Vitriol rules the comment sections and the very people who proudly flaunt that their candidate is trying to dodge the "politics of old" end up saying some nasty things (both McCain and Obama supporters)... But I guess I will try... and be neutral on the argument as I am really unsure who I will vote for or if I will even vote...

I am going to assume (and we all know what that does) that most of the respondents on these comments are either Gen-X or Baby Boomers. Let me give you guys a hint of advice from the Gen-Y crowd:

No one in my generation that has been properly educated cares about race or sex. This is your generation trying to excise your own demons that you witnessed at a young age during the civil rights movement and subsequent years after. You are making it an issue... to a majority of my generation it is a person.... neither male nor female.

The young people of America could care less about the skin color or sex of a presidential candidate. We have grown up in ways you never did. Exposed to woman in powerful positions at a young age. In fact my two bosses at the two companies I have worked for since out of college were both very capable and savvy woman designers they became mentors to me - a young male. I have friends from all ethnic backgrounds.... and though "racism" and "sexism" is not defeated you can believe that things are on the right track. Education is the key to defeat these beasts - Not the "political correctness" that has been shoved down our throats.

I do agree with the writers take on what was done better... Obama said all the right things... at all the right time.

My generations flaw is the culturally we get caught up in something for a short period of time... then throw it away.. or destroy it ourselves. (Think about the last time a film was actually a cultural phenomena? There are no more "movie stars". I also shutter to think what my "oldies station will sound like when I am older... will Juvenile's "Back Dat Azz Up" play on rotation?) Our lives are about convenience. What will make us happy faster. At this moment looks like Obama. Since the moment we were born we have been told "we are special" and that "we can reach our dreams and hopes" and you didn't expect someone that spoke to us in those terms not to excite us?

The major flaw of the Obama message is - just like any well branded and slick company - he will need to innovate his message at the right times... and personally I am not sure he has it in him. ( I mean what candidate didn't run on "The Change Ticket"??) He could go the way of original "Surge" or worse Britney Spears. What will his "Marry K-Fed" moment be? Or in terms for the Baby Boomers when and if he will "jump the shark?"

This is going to be a tight race... In order for Obama to win he must not look stale or become quaint...or my generation will be too bored to go to the polls. A sad but true instance of the crazy insant, gratification we crave.

He must also make sure he doesn't look young and naive to McCain's age. We Gen-Y's like older individuals because we feel we can learn from them. We are very hungry for knowledge. If he looks like a know-it-all intern that has streaks of unabashed elitism it will turn us off.

Finally he must stay with a tele-prompter. Too many times we have seen him stumble over words from a left-field question and look like a 9 year old looking for an excuse for having his hand in a cookie jar.

My two cents. Again good post.

On Jun.16.2008 at 10:52 AM
Whaleroot’s comment is:

J.B.

I applaud your attempt at trying to convey a neutral opinion.

But as a young designer at the ripe age of 23 I find that saying this generation (our generation) cares nothing about race or gender is truly ignorant. Both are a continual bane that exists through every generation. Sure, you and the people you know and surround yourself with seem to have no problem with tolerance—which is excellent—but to attribute your morals to an entire generation is just incorrect. Education—although a positive force for tolerance—is not an end-all to the problem. That also goes for "proper" education (assuming that exists—which it doesn't). I realize your statements mean well but at the same time seem to be fabricated in a bubble of utopia.

I also have to disagree with the notion that young(er) voters eventually become disinterested after they've had their fill. While I'm not disagreeing our society is affected by the ADD culture of 1-year electronics and reality TV I do disagree with an entire generation becoming "too bored" to go to the polls. Voters 18-24 nearly carried John Kerry as far as he went. And you can't ignore the facts that recently young voter turnout has gone nowhere but up. By assuming the entirety of Gen-Y will treat Obama—or any politician—like media, tabloid or corporate manufactured stints meant to only do one thing (make money) is extremely condescending.

You seem to have a lot of opinions but you're passing them off as concrete characteristics of the most diverse American generation ever, which is disheartening.

On Jun.16.2008 at 03:43 PM
J.B. Chaykowsky’s comment is:

Whaleroot,

When I say our generation does not care about race or sex I am speaking about educated individuals. Racism and Sexism still exist. They will exist as long as ignorant people "teach" those skills to others. This could be friends, parents, etc. You learn to fear others skin color or sex. Education is the only tool for intolerance. What other tool is there? Learning about others and their cultures helps break barriers. You also speak about proper education not existing. I came from small town rural West Virginia. I dealt with having racist and bigotry around me alot. Infact you might of saw the media play it up during the WV democratic primary. But I can tell you that things have changed alot in that small town in the 26 years I have been alive. Though I haven't lived there in sometime I go back to visit. I had parents who educated me about people and taught me to not judge others based on anything but their character... that is "proper education."

Education of cultures and experiencing those cultures is the only tool to destroy racism and sexism. Name another because I cannot.

Will racism and sexism be destroyed by our generation? No it will not... nor will the next generation... but we can see progress. You agreed with me on that.

I am speaking in generalities when it comes to "our generation" we are the most open and tolerant generation in America to date. You seem to agree with that statement which is good.

I said that our generation (in general) won't vote. No "get out the youth" vote has ever worked. Yeah alot of people are amped up now and voted for their primary but when I see it I will believe it.

I am sorry you took offense that I included you into the masses. I am sure you will keep up with the ongoing politics and make a selection based on all the information is out there. The sad part is most people make decisions based on what I call "Fast Food News" - 30 second sound bites of a 3 hour longer debate. That is how our news works now and that is how people (our generation in general) consume information.

If politicians are not just there to make "us" money then why is the Economy the number 1 "problem" according to the nation in polls? People majority wise vote their pocket book.

Just like you believe that I have lumped too many people into the "our generation" I believe your lack of "hope" and disdain for personal education of individuals at a family level to combat emotional fear is disheartening.

Come November if I am wrong I will come clean about it. All of my opinions are based on my reading, my own personal upbringing, casual conversations with peers, and everyday living as a Gen-Y. They are what they are - opinions - and I do not need to apologize for them. I never stated them as facts I thought my second paragraph said that pretty well.

As I see more of us in the work force we are taking charge and learning rapidly. Our work ethic and our ability to consume information at a high rate of speed is an asset. We know technology as we are the first generation to utilize it since birth. I see the power in our generation. We just need to wield it better.... and I think we will. We just got to get our priorities straight... maybe this is the year it will happen?

Please read ( though i do not agree with all of these assessments) -

http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/apr2008/ca20080430_320434.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_managing

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/08/60minutes/main3475200.shtml


Also:
http://www.designobserver.com/archives/entry.html?id=30925

On Jun.16.2008 at 05:11 PM
ripe age of 99’s comment is:

Designers talking about politics is about as enlightening as fish talking about socks.

Stay with what you know, kids. There are experts who talk politics all day long in the media. All freaking day long.

Why does every generation XYZ think they're more brilliant than they are?

On Jun.16.2008 at 09:40 PM
J.B. Chaykowsky’s comment is:

Haha! Ripe Age. Because we aren't jaded....


yet!


On Jun.16.2008 at 11:45 PM
Whaleroot’s comment is:

@ J.B. — When I said "education" I was referring to the narrow scope that is the school system. It seems you are encompassing things like life-experience, morality, friendship, etc. into your "education" bracket (i.e. "They will exist as long as ignorant people "teach" those skills to others. This could be friends, parents, etc."). If that's so I think we are close to being on the same page as I wasn't counting those things under education per se but rather personality—which is formed through varieties of "teachings"... and the circle goes 'round and 'round. Either way, I don't lack hope or have distain for the power of any education type—I did say it was a positive force.

I've only grown up in major cities where it's statistically more diverse and culture-friendly so I can't say much about the impact of education on smaller towns, especially in the South. I now see what you meant by "proper education". The original reason I disagreed with the term was because it conveyed to me that there is only one formula of/for education—which any educator would tell you—doesn't exist.

It's not that I found your previous comments offensive but I just had trouble with, what I though to be, blanketing statements such as "No one in my generation that has been properly educated cares about race or sex." and "My generations flaw is the culturally we get caught up in something for a short period of time... then throw it away.. or destroy it ourselves." which, the way they were phrased, seemed to be definitive statements. With your clarifications of meaning "generalities" I can respect your opinions (though not entirely agree with them). But I'm telling you; "get out the youth" programs do work. We just saw it in the last presidential election when the number of youth voters skyrocketed compared to the last 3-4 elections before it—even though it has steadily been going up since Clinton's second term. I think we will see a great number of youth go to the polls this election and I hope we do.

And it is hard to process our "Fast Food News" (I like that term) for what it's worth. Our news has always been given to us in compact doses but with technology those doses are given to us tenfold. Information, especially about politics, becomes harder to digest because it's so convoluted with things like this. All these factors would understandably deter people from paying close attention but in my experience people still do. I think the grand problem lies within the media outlets to really step back to nonpartisan reporting but that is another discussion for another time.

Anyways, I've exhausted my brainpower for the day—I still have designing to do! Surprisingly, I think our opinions aren't that much different. Thanks for your opinions and links—this is a good debate. We should totally "Art Chantry" this forum.

Also, I'm not understanding what the link to "What's In A Name?" is for but good research.

- - - - -

@ Ripe 99 — You're absolutely ridiculous, fish can't talk.

On Jun.17.2008 at 03:08 PM