The Meaning of the Middle Series: Part 5
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?
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What Is the Best Way to Brand the Middle?
Yes. Sorry about that. I glanced too quickly at the chain. Thanks again for your thoughts and efforts!
I think Soloman was directing that comment at the NCP. Soloman, I found your site, Rise of the Centrist. I’m intrigued. I have to put in half a day more of work and then will make a priority of re-visiting. Hope we have a conversation soon. I imagine I can contact you through that site, but just in case I can’t, you are welcome to email me directly to get a conversation going. scottehredt@NationalCP.org I’ll then provide my phone number so we can talk.
Good! That’s a relief! I think I missed who his reply was to, so that makes a lot more sense. Thanks, Scott!
When it comes to branding, you want to define your brand in a way that it can’t be stolen, adopted by the existing brands. If you brand based on an issue for example, as has happened for every third party challenge since the Reps replaced the Whigs over 150 years ago, one of the other parties simply recognizes that voters really want what the third party offers so the other parties provide it. One big difference with the NCP is that we are offering to change the whole political process, recreate it from the ground up as it should be without undue special interest influence (by not accepting special interest money) and with professional, civil and honorable behavior by NCP representatives, rather than the deceptive, childish and ideological behavior we see today. That’s essentially our brand…the next evolutionary step in our democracy. And it is still being defined, so I hope you’ll sign up (it just means you want to see the NCP continue to pursue their goals) and help us define what all this new brand of politics will represent. http://www.NationalCentristParty.org
I’ve seen your site before… there are a dozen so called parties that pop up all the time, then disappear. The only ones that have any impact are the ones who are working on the ground in local and statewide races. You’re focusing on the wrong things, when you should be making phone calls, knocking on doors and building your list locally. Then expand outward. Starting a “national” party with a website is a fool’s errand.
Let me be clear. I am not starting a political party and have no intention of doing so. I believe in civility in politics and in moving things forward in a positive way. This series of posts were on what the middle means – from mid-life, to middle child, to moderate politics. May want to read this site again! Good luck in your efforts!
Smart doesn’t really say anything though. We all know what the liberal and conservative brands mean politically. Those words have meanings that fall within a range for different people, but they are generally understood. We need a term that is the same. I have an idea for what would be better… but its connected to something I’m working on that I’m hoping to get launched in spring so I’ll have to be coy for now, heheh
Well, I can’t wait to read your thoughts when they are ready. A recent example is with the Federal budget. We carry everything forward, with a few cuts in certain places. There is a smarter way to do this in that our environment has changed dramatically over the last two decades, and government needs to adapt. Certain programs need to go away; others created; and approaches need to be implemented to match the issues we are addressing. Anyway, look forward to reading about your launch and terms, Solomon. Thanks!
As much as I’m a hard core centrist, its pretty egotistical to say our political opinions are smart, and theirs are stupid. I obviously think generally centrist ideas are better, smarter even, but its not really good branding, since it is such a subjective term.
Dig the site. Subscribing by RSS.
Rise of the Center
Great point, Solomon. Smart probably is not the brand name of the party, but it still good be the crux of the principles. In my opinion, you have less and more government position, so smart government is a middle position. Let’s use our resources wisely, and it is a mix of less and more, depending on the situation.
A little like IBM’s campaign – A Smarter Planet. There is just a better way.
Thanks for the comment and feedback!