Naunihal Singh noted in a Twitter today that Barack Obama uses a University of Chicago behavioral economist, Austin Goolsbee, and I thought, wow, that runs against the Democratic grain. This got me thinking that McCain enrages the Radio Right by refusing Republic orthodoxy.
In this way, these guys have more in common with one another than they do with their respective parties. In fact, I wonder if we could argue, at the limit, that there is a two party system but it’s no longer Democrat and Republican. It’s now heterodoxy versus orthodoxy. This would join McCain and Obama, distinguishing their new "party" from the one that contains the likes of Romney and Clinton.
If the world is a churning mass of possibility, surely the last person we want in the White House is someone who votes, who thinks, party line. Surely, the world is too complicated for that…and that politician. This has to be one of the signatures of the good politician. Isn’t there a prima facie case here?
Will, George. 2007. The Democrat Economists. The Washington Post. October 3, 2007. here.
Real interesting idea! Reading your entry while listening to Mitt make an ‘I’ve won Massachusetts’ speech in the background makes me think (hope) that the new parties are heterodoxy (Obama) and platitudes (all the others). McCain may anger a major portion of his own party but he still seems willing to say things that are intended solely to get him elected. He’s nowhere near as bad as Mitt and Hillary but is far from Barack.
While neither McCain nor Obama are guaranteed a seat in the Oval Office just yet, their success to date shows the power of compelling, authentic brand positioning.
Obama has positioned himself as the candidate of Hope (One could argue he was the candidate for change, but that word became a commodity product once it started coming out of every candidates mouth). Hope is a pretty strong emotion. Not only is it something voters (or consumers) want, but it’s pretty defensible as well. What does your opponent say, “I’m againgst hope” or “Don’t waste your time with hope” or, “Hey, I’m for hope too!” All pretty weak arguments in the face of Hope.
McCain is banking on authenticity. A war hero who wouldn’t leave his fellow soldiers behind? Tough to argue that he won’t fight for what he believes in or that he’ll do what’s easy.
With both of these candidates, voters have a clear, easy to grasp notion of what it means to “buy” these candidates. It also helps that their chief rivals, Romney and Clinton have been accused (rightly or wrongly) of doing or saying whatever it takes to get elected. That’s a much weaker story to sell to people.
Too bad we can’t have a Obama, McCain ticket. Now, that would be interesting (and I think good for the country.)
I would hope, however, that Senator McCain rediscovers his integrity. His desperate courting of the Falwell crowd has damaged him with many potential voters, including Democrats who would have likely voted for him. (Like, well, me.)
“It’s now heterodoxy versus orthodoxy.”
BAM! Nice context. Given your Martin musings, have you tracked-back to your “centers of gravity” post, 12/16/04? There was some tasty thought in there. (I’m still partial to the “box or frame?” construct. Thanks for the reminder/braintweak.)