There has been a lot said about what’s going on in American politics. And yes, there are a multitude of problems – but for me the key issue that no one has discussed is the growing problem the U.S. Government has with its brand.
I am not talking party-specific here – the Republicans and Democrats have their own issues to deal with and I don’t want to be accused of leaning to one specific party. From a marketing perspective, I think the bigger problem is the growing brand issue politicians in general have with the electorate.
It is clear that people are pissed with what is going on in government. They are frustrated that things aren’t getting done. And they are being told that it is the political “elite” that are the problem (although at no point has the concept of political elite ever been truly defined).
As a result, they are voting in growing numbers for candidates that rail against the establishment, that talk incessantly about what government is doing wrong, and that accuse any incumbent of being part of the problem.
At the same time, these new anti-government, anti-establishment candidates don’t offer any solutions – only that they will “change the way government works”. @RealDonaldTrump’s own campaign (and current reality) was built entirely on this rhetoric – providing no tangible plans for change or growth, only promising to get rid of everything that was done in the past (Obamacare, TPP, NAFTA, JCPOA, Paris Accord – and the list goes on).
The message that “all government is corrupt and broken” is creating avenues for candidates on the far right and the far left to gain strangleholds in communities across America – which as we have seen in recent debates – is making it even harder for the Houses to govern.
So far, both parties have chosen to fight within their own parties against these extreme candidates, trying to hold on to the platforms they have long held.
But I would argue that there is a bigger issue in US politics and it is one that requires a bi-partisan marketing solution. The electorate has lost confidence in government as a whole – not one specific party. Members of both parties don’t have faith in their representatives, because they have been convinced nothing is being done.
There is a primary need for a much bigger brand positioning for government in general and more specifically for the House and the Senate. The two parties, to preserve some form of civility and to repel the outlier candidates, need to work together to rebuild the governing brand. They need to talk to the citizens about the power and the potential of government to do good and to protect. They need to showcase their representatives in action and identify what these representatives are doing on a daily basis to ensure that there is normalcy in everyone’s daily lives.
The loss in confidence in what “government” is doing, and the recent rebranding of government as the swamp, cannot be countered by partisan politics or by partisan marketing campaigns. The process needs a new approach, coordinated on both sides of the aisle. And it probably needs to be done by marketers that are not politically motivated – to ensure that the focus is on a global repositioning, and not hampered by ideological prejudice or bias.
Without it, the existing brand positioning of a broken political system will continue to attract candidates that have the ability to complain, but no willingness to work.