I heard it again on the radio, from a political professional. Such folks are often called talking heads, policy wonks, and other names that may not always be polite enough to repeat here. And yet, they continue to get air time and print space. I am sure those folks feel they are doing necessary work for the country, yet they have lost themselves in an elaborate popularity contest.
What I heard is a consultant stating that the Republican "brand" is still strong when it comes to the reputation for controlling spending. Before I or anyone else puts on feelings of superiority as a result of that superficial view of what society needs and wants, I know that other consultants (or the same ones) also speak of a Democratic "brand". As a quick check I Googled both "Republican brand" and "Democratic brand" (make sure to use quotes so the entire phrase is searched for), and there were over 53,900 references to "Republican brand", with only 9,750 references to "Democratic brand". So both parties talk about their brand – but I am not surprised that the Republicans "lead" by a significant margin in that area.
Although I strongly value the Democratic platform of support for the working middle class and for the working poor, for a pro-choice position, for government-supported stem cell research, and for other progressive causes, I fear that sometimes both sets of leaders lose their ways in thinking of brand, or at least their advisers do and the leaders end up listening to those advisers. And don't misunderstand – I am in favor of candidates being articulate and having a clear message. But when I hear the talking heads speak of branding the candidate, having a "selling" point, the "tip of the spear", and "elections are won on sound bites", it is getting too calculated to be healthy.
Here in New York State both parties have been bickering for so many years that they have diluted their ability to govern, with the situation climaxing recently in defections and counter-defections, and law suits about who is the majority and who has rightful leadership of the state Senate. Both sides jockey, understandably, for public support in their internal strife. But we see little effort to compromise and to do the necessary work of New York State.
Governing and leading have nothing to do with having a brand, and nothing to do with positioning for power! Leaders need not consider brand and power. Leaders are moved by considered and righteous action, by efforts toward consensus across all aisles, by transparency to the public in all settled matters, and by values that are human values , values that do not depend on touting the depth and sincerity of one's relationship to a Deity. Leaders of that kind move and motivate their followers in growing numbers, and gather support as they go. That is how real power is derived.
I ask: Can we have more leaders and fewer jargon-obsessed advisers? More leaders along with more inspired followers and future leaders, to help them get the job done? Can we have leaders who think, rightfully, that Campbell's, Ford, IBM, and General Foods are brands, while the concept of "branding" should not get within a country mile of what it takes to lead a home, a community, a city, a state, or a nation? These questions are not intended just for the United States, nor for our current times, but world-wide, and for all times.
When our leaders act with educated responsibility, and with care and inspiration, our society will improve, as night follows day.