In science there is a postulated law that nature abhors a vacuum, a doctrine expressed as “horror vacui.” [read_more]
In a dictionary sense, the term has come to represent an idiom used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature, physics and in this instance politics. In this sense, the principle also explains the phenomenon known as The Donald.
Outrage regarding the damage Donald Trump is inflicting on the Republican brand in his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination is widespread. Many national political and media leaders have all but taken to their fainting couches over the horror of it all.
But what is this “Republican brand” thing that has so many of the weak of heart publicly wringing their hands in consternation, and how did The Donald, a business and media brand unto himself, manage to put himself in such a position after only a few weeks of campaign effort? Horror vacui?
What is today’s Republican brand anyway? If you look at the concept of brand in it’s simplest context it is really nothing more then a recognizable, differentiated, methodology to help build customer (or in this case voter) loyalty. Any successful political brand must at the least be able to;
- Assist party voters and independents to differentiate between other various party planks and positions;
- It must contain factors that affect positive voter behavior to the political brand;
- It should maintain and enhance practices that clearly define voter identity through the brand’s political line, lifestyle choices or philosophical beliefs;
- It MUST maintain trust to avoid brand voter backlash; and
- It is best focused on relationship marketing and away from mass marketing toward a position that treats potential members as individuals as brand member acquisition is much more expensive to develop than brand member retention.
So with this far from all inclusive list one might say I’m sure we have one of those but I’m not quite sure what it is? In a recent blog in the Redstate’s Diary section the author “fantasma” summarizes:
“Trump’s talk of immigration is hurting the brand long term, Republicans are nervous. The media keeps talking about this ‘brand’ that is in serious danger of being hurt by Trump’s illegal immigration talk. But for all this about a ‘brand’ I wonder: What is the Republican brand anyhow?…. The brand, the brand they say, but how can Trump hurt something [if (sic)] we don’t really know what that brand is? I mean what are the platforms in the Republican brand? Capitalism, free markets, border security, pro-life, pro-family, strong national security, and freedom. By and large Trump supports most of those platforms right?”
Don’t believe those right wing bloggers have any grasp or perspective on the Republican branding issues? Then how about the flip side of the coin coming from Daryl Rowland at the Huffington Post who states,
“The issue with the current Republican Party is not a superficial messaging problem, nor is it about a particular policy position such as immigration or gay marriage. It’s about the larger product itself. The concept of the party is murky and the murky messaging [e.g. branding] follows.”
I believe authors on both the left and right are asking, does today’s Republican brand add value to the voter’s perception of the issues and problems facing them in their everyday lives? A political brand lacking a spirit and a soul is nothing more then a robotized, automated, generic, zero-sum proposition. Finally, and most importantly, does today’s Republican brand deliver political meaning in a way that resonates as “honest” rather than forced or artificial?
Many Americans in the current Republican party orbit have the perspective that they have been rendered passive, powerless, and peripheral to the issues and solutions being forced on them over the past eight years. Accurately or not, many also believe the Republican brand has been complacent or even complicit in these events, at times even openly working in conjunction with the progressive wing of the Democratic party to foist policies on a general public that is by and large opposed to them.
When it becomes impossible for a brand to compete on the basis of its distinct functional benefits then the political consumer will begin to believe that there is no significant difference between a large government, deficit spending Republican versus a large government, deficit spending Democrat. Donald Trump didn’t create this situation or significantly contribute to its development in any meaningful way, he simply is the man who walked on stage with NO stake in the current Republican brand game and proceeded to toss bombs in many uncomfortable directions. He is not the first populist or demagogue to go this political route and he certainly won’t be the final rendition of it.
To face it squarely: the Republican brand is in trouble, the ranks are shrinking, the conservative and libertarian wings–as well as others–are disgusted with the continual equivocations and betrayals. Independent political affiliation in the US has increased by 8% since 2008 to the 43% of Americans that identify with NO party today. Denial is not a harmless state of being as your brand membership walks away.
ALL of this has absolutely nothing to do with the Donald or his crass campaign antics within the Republican party’s primary process.
WE own that problem.