An interesting post on NoLabels.org appeared several months ago about the challenge of branding the middle – Moderates: What Is Our Brand? It is true. How can you brand something that is in the middle of two opposing principles or sides?
It is like being a middle child. While the oldest child is blazing the trail for the other kids in the family, the youngest one may have the most freedom. The middle child sits in the middle and is the negotiator, trying to keep peace between siblings and, potentially, other family members. So, being a middle child translates into being the compromiser – how squishy is that!
In politics, no independent party has really succeeded, if you judge winning the Presidency as the ultimate objective for any third party. While Theodore Roosevelt came very close, Ross Perot also made a serious run. Both had some reason for people to vote for them, but then that may have been the problem: it was about “them” – the individual vs. the party brand.
The personality of the person running played a key role. Roosevelt had so much character that he was truly larger than life. Perot’s down-to-earth, state-it-simply-with-a-chart approach was intriguing, especially with the challenges of the time. In the end, the brand was more on the person, perhaps, than a true political party.
If a third party was to be a real force in U.S. politics, then it has to start with the basics. What is its brand?
Simply stated, the left is known for having the government more involved in helping people through programs while the right is known for tax cuts and the importance of individual responsibility in making their lives work. Yes, an over-simplification, but then what would the middle stand for? Compromising? Negotiating? Solving problems? Nothing in those statements would get someone excited. No big principles or ideas evident.
A third party would need a distinguished brand. Maybe the core branding element should be centered on Smart. Be smart in how government is used to solve problems. Be smart in how government is organized. Be smart about our future and the use of our resources. Maybe it boils down to:
- Left = More Government
- Right = Less Government
- Middle = Smart Government
Can you brand a political party as being “smart” and hold the middle while attracting enough people from the other two parties?
In this information age, maybe smart works. Given the past poor political choices and decisions, Smart may catch on and be a brand people can rally around.
At some point, don’t we have to evolve to a higher level of citizenship and approach? Today, many of our existing government institutions were conceived out of problems and challenges which occurred decades ago. The structure in place was not necessarily built for 2010 or 2020 or 2030. We need to be smarter about how government is structured and the role it plays.
Smoked salmon received the most laughter in the last State of the Union address, but it just highlights how government isn’t smart today.
If a bold middle, independent political party were to storm our country, we would need a Smart platform – Six Smart Pillars:
Pillar 1: Smart fiscal and economic policies – the best way to eliminate deficits and pay down debt
Pillar 2: Smart defense – the best way to protect our country and interests in the most effective way
Pillar 3: Smart security – the best way to protect our citizens
Pillar 4: Smart health & welfare – the best way to provide care and retirement support to our citizens
Pillar 5: Smart education – the best way to ensure our youth our taught well
Pillar 6: Smart resources – the best way to use and preserve our resources
Programs and policies can be formulated around each of these pillars. This absolutely would need to happen in order to differentiate what is meant by being smart. A brand needs to be a promise and have substance to it. This would facilitate the movement and provide the reason for people to join and vote Smart!
Which would you choose: Republican, Democrat, or Smart? Who doesn’t want to be Smart! A good brand for the political middle…
How would you brand an independent political party? What should it stand for?