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October 29, 2019

Just Ourselves

Jason Miller

Always Be Closing (ABC) is not a new sales strategy. It simply declares that a salesperson should continuously look for new leads, promote products or services to those leads, and that effort should complete a sale.


One of the greatest speeches in movie history can be found in the opening scene to the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross. An enraged Alec Baldwin rants and belittles a group of washed up salesmen who either sell their quota of real estate parcels – or they're fired.


The premise of the rant is that a sale is made in every conversation. The lead will sell the salesperson on how the sale won't be made, or the salesperson sells the sale. The product doesn't matter. Only the sale matters.


Today's political climate is nearing critical mass when considering the increase of identity politics. Identity politics sows division across every facet of the country. Behind the scenes politicians use identity politics to break apart and segment Americans to more manageable demographics to make the political sale.


It's easier for third-rate politicians to sell empathy than ideas. Ideas need to be tangible and have a measured return for everyone in America. The optimal return for ideas is a unified political consensus across the spectrum for what the politicos call the mandate.


Sadly, the quest for mandates has long since met its political sunset. Some political figures of today seem too lazy, or too inept, to formulate an original thought – let alone any innovative ideas for how America ought to be.


The creative license that was once so essential to the quest of majority consensus has surrendered itself to the repugnant act of tearing at the fabric of America into separate identities for the purpose of identity coalition building.


Republicans and Democrats both find this loathsome behavior an effective and an efficient use of their limited intellectual and financial resources.


The recipe for victory is one-part Boogeyman tactics used by Lee Atwater in George H.W. Bush's 1988 rout of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. We add a large helping of the "I feel your pain" script that Bill Clinton used against George H.W. Bush in 1992.


Both of these are mixed with a dash of wedge issue tactics that Karl Rove successfully used to get George W. Bush elected over then Vice President Al Gore.


This recipe would rip the country apart over time. It's based on promoting your opponent as "the other." The opinions of "the others don't count. The "others" can’t understand you. The "others" haven't experienced your life or your situation. Only someone who verbally exalts and validates a group collective ego is able to truly understand your plight. It works for both sides.


The perceived liberal bias of the broadcast nightly news begat conservative talk radio and the divisions seemed to intensify. The 24-hour news cycle then hastened the rapid growth of such extreme political divisions by bringing on scripted talking heads as filler for idle air time.


As viewer data began to be analyzed by modern media corporations, breakdowns of political demographics showed market segments that were easily identified for revenue. Fair and balanced took a back seat to fire and brimstone.


The echo chamber became a cable media business model. The attributes of social media only compounded the problem as advertising began popping up on our Internet searches and the term spam invaded our email inbox.


Facebook, Twitter, and other social media innovations became relentless in the quest for advertising dollars when they became publically traded companies.


A hobby became a business and a business turned into an empire.


The political consensus once sold by politicians using the Always Be Closing (ABC) method has given into the Always Be Confrontational (ABC) method.


The more outrageous one is on social media, the more money one makes in views and clicks. The more cavalier, talking heads are on cable news, the higher rates they can charge on their news contributor contacts.


H.L. Mencken once said that a newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. That seems a fitting description of the new normal of today's news media. Both sides spread fake news and many of us see this for what it is.


Some of us are waiting with bated breath for a network, a newspaper, or online publication, to take both sides to task with the same energy under the Shakespearean banner of "a plague on both your houses."


Only when that happens will we be able to see that which is in front of us. Just ourselves.




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