Friday, February 01, 2008

An Anti-Corporate Candidate?

I have no problem with Ralph Nader or any other candidate running as a Green. I truly believe, however, that a campaign based solely on the populist, anti-corporate message that we have long heard from Nader will not achieve much this year. I am worried that the rhetoric of the anti-corporate message will become the focus of his campaign, whether he intends that or not. The media will make it so.

Within the past several weeks there has been a major uproar over the question of whether Ralph Nader endorsed / did not endorse John Edwards. (He didn't, in case anyone is confused.) However, he did establish a linkage between the anti-corporate rhetoric of Edwards and his own actions for most of his career. It is worth noting that Edwards message did not resonate with enough of the Democratic primary / caucus participants to become a major factor, dropping to as low as 4% in Nevada and rarely over 20%, despite the fact that he has been campaigning very hard for a long time.

Authenticity Counts. I think that Edwards failed for two reasons. The first is that he never convinced a large number of Democrats that he was authentic. In a real sense, you have to BE the message that you deliver. The images of Edwards and his multi-hundred $ hair cuts and the opulent lifestyle of his mansion undercut the populist message. In many ways, his wife was a much more effective communicator that he was. There is strong evidence that this was also part of Kerry's failure in 2004. That moment when he accepted the 2004 nomination with the obviously contrived act of stepping forward, saluting and saying that he was "reporting for duty" created negative reactions when "test marketed" in a media savvy manner. (ref. "Words the Work" by Dr. F. Luntz) Authenticity counts.

Aspirations. The other failure in Edwards message is that it was not aspirational. It was all about the things that he was against, on our behalf, of course, but still, it failed to show what real vision he had for this country, where he would lead us. All that he could offer to close the deal was just about the same laundry list of policies as the other two except on climate change where he was clearly the strongest. In contrast, Obama is all about the vision thing and one might question the substance... but his campaign has been much more successful.

Lesson for us. Whoever wins the Green Party nomination must not fall into the trap that Edwards built for himself. A campaign that is only about the evils of corporate America and how they conspire to keep good people off the ballot is a campaign that will fail. Conversely, a campaign that is
about the power of a united people act on our own behalf, freeing us from the constraints the media consolidation that has silenced the voices of the public, making us owner of our own future. will re-establish Greens as a party with something to offer this country.

There is much the Green Party needs to accomplish. We must aspire to lead towards a new future. We need candidates who reach back to the core of their life experiences and find the path to that future. Authentiic. Aspirational.

Choose Your Future: Vote.

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