I was reading the synopsis of this article (What Obama’s loss of Congress means for 2016 candidates by Matt Bai) on Yahoo! News Digest this morning and the thought that popped into my mind was that politics is just marketing now. It’s about marketing the best product (ie candidate) to your target demographic (ie your political base); about trumpeting singular issues that speak to your target demographic; about figuring out how to make it look like you’re winning against your competitors.We need to ask ourselves if this is what we want our politics to be about? For us to be marketed to. The problem with this marketing paradigm within our representative system is that the best person for the job is not likely to be chosen. Look at the smartphone market right now. Samsung dominates the Android market based on sheer marketing dollars spent (with one main ‘innovation’, which was the size of their phones). However, most tech critics would not recommend Samsung phones (amongst Android phones) to their friends.If we look at our political system right now, especially with the recent Supreme Court rulings expanding the power of money in the political system, the ones who make it to the table are the ones who fundraise the best. Pure and simple, our politicians are determined by who can get the most money from people. It takes $10 million dollars to win a typical Senate race (I think it was $80M for this last Kansas race actually). The losing Senate candidates typically raise $3M dollars less than the winner.
With that said, though…as much as I want to blame the politicians and the political system, a lot of the fault is on us. Our lack of participation and adherence to single issues meant that to get our attention, the system had to resort to these methods to get our attention. As much as I’d like to see campaign finance reform, the biggest problem is ourselves. Even if we got small dollar contribution reform, the fact is that it would only create a greater need for even more marketing prowess to get even more people to contribute. We created this. Now, we need to fix it. The solution: we need to care.
Actually, the solution is better voter education. Ever since I started working on my project, Polinav, I’ve been talking with a lot of people about politics and the overwhelming response I’ve gotten is this: I want to care, but _____. Everyone has their reason on why they’re not getting involved in politics and our goal at Polinav is to create the platform where we can educate and engage citizens, to break down those barriers to involvement. Not only so people could have a voice, but so we can get our political system working again.
At Polinav, we think we have a compelling solution to this problem and we’re hoping we can get our product out to the people soon. But till then, please learn, care, get to know what’s going on. It’s the only way we’re going to fix any of the major problems plaguing our still great nation.