March 25, 2005
Bad Marketing, Good Products – Part II
In my last article, I explained, in business terms, why the Democratic Party is like a company with weak marketing but strong products. In this one, I’ll put forward a “market position” that might do justice to the Democratic Party and its policies.
Marketing starts with positioning, or how brands are differentiated in the minds of customers and prospects. A strong “brand” position for Democrats could be described in three words: Liberty, Opportunity, and Community.
Those three words describe, in fundamental terms, what the Democratic Party stands for:
Liberty: Democrats protect the freedoms of all citizens.
- Opportunity: Democrats promote policies that help everyone succeed.
- Community: Democrats pursue harmony among citizens, and build international security.
This position also describes what Democrats stand against:
- Democrats stand against Control: They believe the Federal Government should not control your reproduction, your sexual practices, your right to a fair trial, and your faith in a Protestant Evangelical God.
- Democrats stand against Privilege: They believe that rich people should not wield great fortunes and power they didn’t earn. They believe that rich corporations should not receive protections denied to everyday citizens.
- Democrats stand against Division: In domestic politics, they believe we should not foster fear and hatred of citizens who are different. In foreign policy, they believe we should not drive away allies and undercut international cooperation.
Positions can’t be created out of whole cloth; they must build on existing impressions. In this respect, the Liberty/Opportunity/Community position fits the bill for Democrats:
- Democrats backed the Civil Rights movement as an instrument of Liberty.
- Democrats created the GI Bill that expanded educational Opportunity.
- A Democrat, Harry Truman, signed the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, creating a transatlantic Community of nations.
Positions must also be supported with good “products.” In the political arena, this means sound public policy. In this respect, the Liberty/Opportunity/Community position reflects Democratic policies:
- Democrats protect the freedoms of all citizens (Liberty): Democrats have had the courage to oppose the current administration’s policy that it can jail any American citizen for years without charging him with a crime.
- Democrats promote policies that help everyone succeed (Opportunity): Democrats are fighting to preserve programs that the current administration seeks to cut – programs that increase literacy among poor people, that fund school technology, that promote early childhood education.
- Democrats pursue harmony among citizens, and build international security (Community): At the Democrats’ national convention, their keynote speaker said: “There's not a liberal America and a conservative America – there’s the United States of America.” Democrats oppose the current administration’s nomination of a U.N. ambassador who is openly hostile to the U.N.
If someone asked me what Democrats stand for, and I only had a few seconds to tell them, I would deliver this “elevator speech:”
Democrats believe in liberty, opportunity, and community. We protect the freedoms of all Americans, promote policies that help everyone succeed, pursue harmony among citizens, and build international security.
Most Americans believe in these things, and approve of what Democrats want to do for our country. When Democrats state their position clearly, and defend it aggressively, they’ll dramatically increase their “market share” in our country’s marketplace of ideas.