There’s A Bear In The Campsite! – Why Politics Is Poised For Disruption

“Soon there will be two types of candidates: those that embrace social media and those that lose elections”

Often when thinking of ‘politics’, particularly in the United States, we may come to think of something with enormously high barrier to entry.  If not a high barrier to entry, than at the very least – stubborn and powerful gatekeepers.

If that was the reason holding you back from engaging in ‘the art of the possible’ – I have good news for you.


NOW is the perfect storm.  The barrier has been overwhelmed and shattered…this is your chance.

Here are some points to consider.


 

The Bear In The Campsite

As an investment and business adviser, I often use the analogy of a bear in the campsite in the context of business development but it often lends itself quite well in thinking of the current political climate and more specifically, political campaigns.

You see, at the end of a political campaign and political race, someone must win.


Let me rephrase


At the end of a political campaign and political race, someone WILL win.

Regardless.

No matter what.

There’s a nuance in this reality that many people may not see.

Picture you are camping with a small group of people and all of the sudden a bear appears at your campsite.

Question: What do you have to do?

When I pose this question to people, often the answer is something along the lines of:

“Run as fast as you possibly can”


Want to know the correct answer?


You have to run faster than the slowest person in your group

For me, this has been one of the most compelling yet limiting characteristics within our political process for quite some time.  This analogy manifests itself when I hear people say things like:

I just chose the lesser of two evils.

OR

Out of everyone, this is the best we got?

Many, many, MANY politicians have come to enjoy let’s say……a relatively uninvolved tenure-renewal process for years – even decades.

And when this is not true, just replace ‘many, many, many politicians’ with ‘political parties” and you’re still well on your way.

Let me give you a somewhat crude but quick example of what I mean.

While my observation is not to favor one party or another, I will choose the state of Arizona as a quick example to illustrate my point.

Why did I pick Arizona?  Because I like to manipulate numbers to fit my narrative.


I’m kidding.  Arizona is the state in which I live – that’s all.  You can do this with many other states and you may come to find similar results.


Screenshot #1 – Voter Registration (As of 2018)

Screenshot #2 – Historical Election Results (All Republican Except 1996)

As you can probably extrapolate from the two graphs above, historically, Arizona has voted republican for the past 40 years (excluding 1996); yet voter registration even in 2018 shows:

Registered Democrats: 1,090,310

Registered Republicans: 1,258,994

Other: 1,223,219

These ratios have stayed relatively the same throughout the majority of all general elections.  Here is a link to all general election voter registration counts since 1912.

So given that Democrats and Republicans have been “give or take” equal going into the voting booth, how has the Republican party maintained a consistent win in Arizona?

The phrases “oh that’s a red state” or “oh that’s a blue state” should strike you peculiar when coupled with the fact that the stances taken ‘today’ by republicans, democrats, liberals and conservatives alike are starkly different from the stances they were taking 20-40 years ago.

The left is more left than ever.  The right is more right than ever.  If you’ve been standing still – look around – you may have new friends.

So what gives?

Given that the meaning of ‘republican’ or ‘democrat’ or ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ has shifted quite extensively in the last 20-40 years, why have many states, Arizona being one of them, traditionally seemed to hold the same prominent political party winner?

While there may be several factors contributing to this, there is one in particular that seems to be a bit underrated in the mainstream conversation.


Gerrymandering


gerrymanderingThrough my personal research and readings, I have come to think gerrymandering can and does disservice many voting districts.  Below is is a quick (2 Minutes 42 Seconds) video explaining the concept:


If you are interested in a further deep dive into this particular topic, I highly recommend David Daley’s book on gerrymandering / redistricting Ratf**ked – a must read.


While redistricting or the abuse of redistricting may be undermining many political districts, I want to look at this issue in a different light.

Gerrymandering may have given specific political candidates or let’s say a specific political party a considerable political advantage for the past couple of decades, but therein lies the opportunity my friend.

One thing I’ve come to understand about human nature and in turn the nature of groups is:


Apathy Dulls The Mind.  


And there are many politicians that have become comfortable in their seat.  They have grown accustomed to not having to do too much to win [again].

It does not take much stretch of the imagination to consider that a favorably gerrymandered district, coupled with all the social perks of being considered the ‘home team party candidate’ would foster a situation in which any ‘competing’ opposition would more than likely be the slowest person at the campsite.

Considering it would take an exorbitant amount of money and endorsement to stand a fighting chance, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the opposing candidate is not necessarily the ‘the best we got‘.  Considering this, it would not be surprising to learn that the ‘away team’ party invests much less time and money in a campaign race with a bear; thus fulfilling the bear in the campsite prophecy.

So what do you do?  You’re a true statesman / stateswoman that wants to run for an elected office but you don’t have all the funding you would need and you’re not a billionaire.  What do you do if you don’t have tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to your disposal to run an intense strategic political campaign against an established bear?

Well, traditionally perhaps there was very little you could do but now I think things have changed.

The door has been unlocked but no one has told you.  I’m telling you now.


disruption.jpgDisruption

Depending on who you are, the word disruption holds starkly different connotations.  To the investor or entrepreneur, disruption typically equates to opportunity.  While to the establishment, it symbolizes an ‘eviction notice’.

In case you haven’t cared to or had a moment to pay attention, here are some brief examples of disruption in just the last couple of decades:


uber lyft

Uber / Lyft – In major cities across the world taxicabs have long remained a staple.  Uber, launching in 2009 and Lyft launching in 2012 turned the entire industry upside down.  As you may already know, Uber and Lyft are services that allow people to request a driver.  The only difference is, the drivers are regular people using their own vehicles and they get paid a percentage of the fare.


AirbnbAirbnb is an online platform that allows owners to rent their homes, apartments, villas and even bedrooms out to short-term renters at very competitive prices.  Needless to say, the hotel industry has not been thrilled with the arrival of Airbnb and others of its ilk (VRBO, HomeAway, Etc).

 


netflixNetflix, dubbed by many as the ‘killer of Blockbuster’, Netflix is a entertainment company that specializes in providing streaming media, on-demand movie / T.V. show rentals and DVD by mail.

 


I think you get the point.  But here is a question for you.  What is the common denominator for ALL of the examples above and many more I did not list?

Answer?  Technology; more specifically, the internet.

Having said that, entrepreneurs are constantly looking for the next industry that is poised to be disrupted.  If you are an individual who has had the desire to enter the realm of public service, I would submit to you, politics is the next major industry that is about to experience disruption.  It is time to take advantage of an opportunity that the majority of the establishment is just beginning to recognize.

Social Media: The Bear Repellent

 

social mediaSocial media has a value proposition like nothing else…but it won’t last.  Here is one example that may give you a glimpse of what I am talking about.

 

 

The final FEC report showed the extent of the Trump advertising splurge. The campaign spent nearly $39 million on last-minute TV ads and another $29 million on digital advertising and consulting work done by Parscale’s firm.

Clinton’s campaign placed a far greater emphasis than Trump on television advertising, a more traditional way of reaching swaths of voters. She spent $72 million on TV ads and about $16 million on internet ads in the final weeks. – Source: Click Here For Article

Some things to takeaway from this.

  • The Clinton campaign in the final weeks spent a total of $88 million compared to The Trump campaigns $66 million.
  • While the Clinton campaign leveraged approximately 81% of the final weeks spend on TV ads and 19% on “digital advertising”, the Trump campaign leveraged approximately 59% on TV ads and 43% on digital advertising.
  • Oh and…the Trump Campaign spent $22,000,000 (25%) less overall in the final stretch.

Soon there will be two types of candidates: those that embrace social media and those that lose elections


Final Thoughts

It is crucial to emphasize that this is simply the beginning.  Social media is a relatively new space and things are going to be messy.  There will be abuse > we are already seeing this with the recent news around Cambridge Analytica.  If you are not completely aware of this developing story, the video below is a good start (It is 13 minutes long – watch at your leisure).


The Law of Diminishing Returns

The spending and value proposition of social media (more specifically social media marketing) will begin to diminish as more and more players (businesses, politicians, etc.) enter the playing field.  But there is a silver lining and this is what excites me as a Logicrat.


A New Paradigm In Politics

Much of this may be wishful thinking.  Much of  this may prove to be unfulfilled through unanticipated variables but this is where I feel things could go.

There will be a period where political candidates take advantage of the social media paradigm.  To a Logicrat, that is less exciting than what is hopeful to be the next phase.

Once the general political apparatus becomes accustomed to the disruptive nature of social media and the overall paradigm shift has been realized, the effectiveness in politics will come become less about how well you use social media and more about the merit of your ideas.

As a politician, you will no longer be able to avoid debating competing candidates and competing ideas.  How many times will you avoid engaging with political rivals if they are constantly requesting a debate and dialogue with you on their Facebook Live Feed?

You will win or lose on the merit of your ideas.  It will make less of a difference how much SUPER-PAC money you have.  It will make more of a difference if you can present and support your views.  And most importantly, it will be more difficult to be intellectually dishonest.  

So if you are an individual who has been debating on the value of running for an elected office, the value of establishing your views in the public sphere and advocating for things that you believe will push or lead our country forward, I have one question for you.

What are you doing camping?  Finish your S’mores and pack up your gear > the camping trip is over.

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