Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Democrats: Kicking Our Butt Instead of Kissing It

Do you remember a time when during an election year, the average politician, both incumbent and challenger, promised us everything under the sun to either get in office or to stay there?

No matter how outrageous the voters needs were and no matter how unsolvable they were, politicians assured us that they had a sure solution while their opponent had none.

As they made all these promises, they were very accommodating to our requests, demands and everything else in between.  Well, at least in public they were.

The President’s recent aggressive stand on a number of issues has surprised me and caused me to ask “Why?”.

Last weekend, the President made a number of comments to the business community of America, suggesting that they had nothing to do with their success at all and that if it hadn’t been for government, businessmen would be nothing.  He’s not the first Democrat to make such assertions.

I guess my response would be:

If I have to give away all the credit for the successes in my Life, can I also blame the same people for my failures and shortcomings?

And by the way, I didn’t hear the President thank us for helping him win the Nobel Peace Prize …. but alas I digress.

Back in April, the President warned the Supreme Court not to rule against Obamacare, setting off a firestorm as to the power of the Office of the White House and the constitutional relationship between the White House and the Supreme Court.

Democrat Senator Patty Murray indicated yesterday that Democrats were willing to let taxes increases across the board in order to force the GOP back to the table, punishing all Americans for Washington’s inability to solve issues.

Then there was the matter of the inappropriate tweets made by the President and others in June as I wrote about in my blog POTUS – The Impact of Lower Standards.

Alas, I could go on. 

But the point is this.

In an election year, most politicians, especially incumbents, are usually kissing our butt.

This time they are kicking it.

And regardless of where they stand in the polls, it is not a strategy that politicians normally take for fear or wiping out gains if they are leading in the polls or guaranteeing their loss if they are trailing.

So when I see someone being so aggressive in how they handle their PR and how they speak to Americans in general, I can only attribute this to one of four things:

1. They are so confident that they feel they can do anything (which would be a new model in the political world).

2. Brazenness, arrogance and intimidation are the new model for getting anything done in America.

3. They are deluded or officially psychotic.

4. They know something we don’t know.

I have personally known many politicians who were secretly confident but never waved their confidence in voter’s faces, so I’m pretty sure option 1 is out.

I would like to think that option 2 is not a possibility.  If it is, we as a society are doomed, relegating success to those who can beat the tar out of others verbally … which eventually escalates to physically.

I think these people are very smart, so I think that option 3 is out.

Which leaves me with option 4.

Option 4 is difficult to explore.  The modern political engine has whipped up emotions within the American people to the point where cerebral dialog is almost impossible.

Just trying asking for facts and watch what happens.

I rest my case.

The emotion levels remind me of a commonly used tactic in the private sector. 

I sat in on many a boardroom meeting on Wall St. where an executive had to sell something to the room that they knew would be unpopular or they had to cover up either a lack of knowledge or competence on their part.

A common way to handle this when one has few facts to rely on is to whip the room up into a frenzy (playing both sides if one has to) and while the room tears itself apart, the person with “the problem” sits back, relieved that no one is looking at them ….. at least for now.

It reminds me of the old cartoons years ago where everyone is fighting in a dust cloud while the antagonist crawls away unscathed.

Divisiveness is a powerful tool.  People end up yelling and screaming at each other instead of in the direction where they should be demanding accountability from.

So if we look past the emotion and try to examine the data points in the current political environment, an intriguing scenario arises.

In an very unscientific poll of 1000 people that I administered to a number of colleagues in New York and Washington during the month of June, including business executives, politicians and military personnel, I asked the following questions:

1. If you could do anything you wanted within the law to prevent a challenging party from winning an election, would you do it?

2. If such action included invocation of Executive Directive 51, would you do it?  Blog reader note: Executive Directive 51 allows the authority of Congress, the Senate and the Supreme Court to be waived by the President, elections postponed and citizen rights to be curtailed  for "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions”.

3. Do you believe that Executive Directive 51 has been or is being contemplated by the White House?

Here are the results:

1. 85% would do anything within the law, with 5% of naysayers indicating that the primary reason they wouldn’t hinged upon a conflict between their personal values and what the law allows.  10% would do anything, inside or outside the law.

2. 83% were willing to invoke Executive Directive 51.

3. 74% believed that Executive Directive 51 was an option that the White House has or is considering.

Good fodder for conspiracy stuff, isn’t it?

Or is it?

As one person noted:

The problem with Executive Directive 51 is that if you don’t like it and protested it on a large, disruptive scale, it could theoretically be invoked to prevent the demonstrations against it in the first place.

This caused me to think that democracy is no longer a right for each American.

It is in fact on loan to them as long as they behave.

I wrote back in March (Something Wicked This Way Comes) that the recent laws and preparations by the government were intriguing and disturbing to witness.

These laws were expanded in July when an Executive Order giving the President total control over communications during an “emergency” was signed into law.

Now to be truthful, in the hands of a competent leader during times of distress, these laws can mean the difference between saving a nation and losing it catastrophically.

In the hands of a less-than-competent leader or a devious one, these laws open Americans to a world of pain.  There are also no checks and balances in place to prevent such a leader from invoking them.

But as they say, you have to trust someone right?

When I look at the current political climate in America, I see a lot of emotion and little fact-based dialog.

This is perfect for a politician.  While everyone is screaming at each other, no one is examining what the politicians are doing (or not doing) to help the American people.

Their arrogance in recent days reminds me of this scene from Mel Brook’s History of the World Part 1.

Drifting to the left.


It is easy for leaders to ignore the noise of emotion in the masses as long as the masses are not presenting a consistent, unified call for accountability and solutions.

And so as we get closer to an election, the arrogance and confidence of the Democrats continues to grow.

As a strategy advisor, I need to strip the emotion away from this and examine the data points to answer the all important question.

The question of Why?

Politicians prefer that the electorate not ask too many questions with the understanding that sheep are easier to guide than leaders.

If America were a nation of 330 million leaders, we would never get anything done at all.  We need sheep to get things done.

But our ratio of leaders to sheep is way out of kilter.

And this suits some people perfectly.

But does it suit the American dream and the greatness that America has represented and has the potential to represent in the future?

The politicians believe they have the answers and want to give them to you.

Unfortunately, the weak minded, the uninformed and the misinformed allow themselves to build their lives around these answers.

How about you?

In service and servanthood,



Addendum – July 17, 2012

It appears I missed two options in my original explanation for why some politicians are so brazen.

5. They don’t care if they win or lose.

Since we know that they care, we can discard this one.

6. One reader pointed out a variation of my original #4, the notion that they know something we don’t.  I mentioned it with the thought that perhaps they had a reason to be confident that we weren’t aware of (such as the possible use of laws to help them win should the use of those laws be required).  However, one reader mentioned that maybe there is a genuine concern on the horizon that we don’t know about and that making it public knowledge would be counter productive to the population-at-large.

That’s an interesting spin – a national security concern so great that it is pushing them without allowing them to speak about it.  The best analogy I could come up with would be asking people to leave a theater because it is burning to the ground but you don’t want to tell them about the fire because the resulting panic would kill many people in the stampede for the exit.  However, because you don’t tell them about the fire, they resist leaving the theater, forcing you to get very aggressive in your “motivation techniques”.

Eventually you have to come clean about the fire and deal with the panic that ensues or you say nothing and let the fire take its course.

An interesting thought.

Final Thought:

I wrote this a year ago Strategy 101: What Are Your Objectives? and this in 2009 Taking a Break – Recharging to Take Charge.  In the latter, I wrote about how Ben Bernanke had claimed to have solved the economic problems in America and then admitted that he hadn’t, how global warming was producing just talk and no action, etc.

There have been many ups and downs on this roller coaster since then with no solutions in sight.

It’s scary that we are not getting on top of the stuff that needs to be fixed.  What’s even scarier is that the stuff is relatively easy to see.  In March of 2008, I wrote a blog called Financial Crisis predicting the financial crisis of September 2008.  If we can see this stuff coming, why can’t the experts see it coming and prevent it or at least minimize the damage?

Maybe it’s because they are focusing too much on bashing the other side and staying in power rather than focusing on solving the problems.

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