by Dr. Angela West via Facebook
Last week I attended a very erudite celebration at an exclusive club in Northern Palm Beach. I wager that the majority of the invitees were Republican although the reason for the gala would dictate that it would be bi-partisan. This background is unimportant, however, the discussion that I had with a well known celebrity’s spouse is more so. She asked me about this new obsession with “cool”. Everything is “cool”. Our President is “cool”, Michelle Obama is “very cool”, and all of the people they surround themselves with are “cool”. Then , a former colleague of mine who, along with her husband, developed a rather revolutionary system that made them very, very, very rich asked me why her son wanted to be African American. I said that it is “cool”. But unlikely since he is probably the furthest from being African American that I have ever known. In another life his name would have been Lars or Sven or something very Nordic. I am sure you get the picture.
The reality of “cool” is much deeper than just wanting to be another race, heritage or creed. “Cool” connotes a breeze to the future. It gives the impression of vibrancy, youth, fertility and all of the best feelings of being alive, healthy and the feeling that anything is possible. It is the opposite of tradition, sameness, obligations and boredom. “Cool” has become synonymous with the Democratic party while “tradition” has become synonymous with the Republican party. This did not just begin with the election of Barack Obama, it started with the Kennedy’s.
The choice of an Irish Catholic president was as phenomenal on November 8, 1960 as the election of Obama, an African American, in 2008. And in between we had the Clinton’s. The Clinton’s were by no means conventional, Hillary once remarked “I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession,” — it sparked a controversy but it was one of the cornerstones in her rise. The reality is that these people the Kennedy’s, the Clinton’s and now the Obama’s epitomized “cool” at their various points in history. Just as the Obama campaign utilized social media and all of the powerful new technology developed and continually developing, the Kennedy campaign marked the first time that the television eclipsed the radio as a means of political communication. It is still the most powerful medium of communication.
So, why bring this up? Why complement the Democrats? Not complementing them just acknowledging that times are changing but no more so than any other time over the past 50 years. In this last election, we as Republicans right down to the wire were convinced of a Romney victory. Everywhere I go, I hear the same cry of being “depressed” and feeling bad. Life moves on, and so must we. We must become “cool” or at least “cooler” than in the past. Move ahead, tomorrow is another day.
We just did not get the votes, and why? Maybe it is just a matter of marketing. And really what is “marketing”? Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product, it is tailoring the communication to meet the needs of the population that you wish to market to. It means getting the votes necessary to win. It means knowing your market. I have a spreadsheet of the “non-voters” in Florida during the last election, if it were a small number, it still would be unacceptable. The implication is that people would rather NOT vote than vote for any of the choices presented.
The successful marketing of the Democratic party occurred because of their ability to define the Republican party. The first branding campaign started with us being called the party of “NO”. The opposite of yes is “NO”. After that, we became the “opposition”. Deserved or not, we did not counter. Democrats are “Young”, Republicans are “Old”; Democrats promote women (remember the photo ops with Pelosi and all of the women behind her), Republicans wage a “war on women”; Democrats love African Americans, Republicans are “racist”; Democrats are for immigration, Republicans want to “self-deport”; Democrats embrace all lifestyles while Republicans are “homophobic”; Republicans hate the poor, the old and everyone in between.
The message of Democrats = “Cool”; “Forward” and therefore “Good”. Republicans = “Tradition and therefore Uncool”, “Backwards” and therefore “Bad” resonates with even the lowest informational voter.
I have spoken at schools, mentoring groups and even among the young people in my own family. The media bombardment of this message has been powerful. The successful usage of musical stars and the constant image management that goes on within the Democratic party is phenomenal. Last night I attended a function where I tried to get the Republican presenter to even acknowledge that my hand was raised — he looked over my head three times and than brushed off this simple fact, — we have to appeal to the masses without eating or destroying our own. We have to market in a way that appeals, we have to stop bitching about everything being unfair and finally we have to start valuing our own.
When we refer to our party as “stupid”, everyone else will also. When we excoriate women, we invite deservedly so, the scorn of the fairer sex. When we murmur and lament about the changes in our country, we make ourselves depressed. And finally, when we throw overboard our values in order to appease, we lose, because it is perceived that we stand for nothing. And stop grousing about the “good old days”, for the likes of me, the old days were not so good.
Now lets get together, stop putting the same old, same old in charge of our local parties. They really just want a place to hang out with people who are just like them —– read “uncool”. The only demographic that Romney carried was the white male category…… Unless we are going to experience a bumper crop of this group soon, we gotta get movin!!!!!!
Dr. Angela West is the wife of LTC Allen B. West
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