Lightweight presidential campaign all about branding

This is what our presidential campaign has come to. A Twitter fight.

Is this a reflection of them? Or us?

Philip Bump, writing on the Washington Post, notes that it’s about brand awareness, not really anything that has any value in terms of, you know, deciding who should be the next persident.

Hillary Clinton ostensibly wanted people to read her plan to address college costs, but recognizing that no one would, she wanted people to know that she had such a plan, so her team made a nice little image that could leverage the link as an excuse to exist. (No one who works in media ever does stuff like this, of course.)

Campaigns know that you don’t actually care about policy proposals beyond the broadest of strokes, so Clinton was just trying to let you know that those strokes were out there. The campaign tossed out the tweet understanding that her Twitter team — meaning her energetic followers — would retweet it and promote it.

Then Bush responded. He had two goals: Creating an image for his team to pass around — little social lapel pins showing they’re on team Jeb! — and to try to get the Attention of the Media. If you want the attention of normal people, you post stuff to Facebook. If you want the attention of the media, you tweet.

So Bush’s plan worked. Clinton’s response to Bush had these same two goals, and Bush’s second response was mostly just so he could have the last word.

But let’s back up just a second. Why wouldn’t people read a politician’s plan on a major policy?

  • Paul

    I am not looking forward to another Bush vs Clinton election.

    There’s still plenty of time to go and they’ve already stooped to twitter fights.

    I’ll take Sanders vs Trump any day over this.

  • MrE85

    This is nothing new. Presidents have been elected with the help of images, songs, jingles, buttons, commercials etc. since George Washington’s election. You ask why people won’t read policy statements? Because many just aren’t interested in policy — until their ox is gored, that is.
    I consider myself a pretty well informed voter, but even I don’t go too deep into “campaign promises” I know most Presidents can’t honor once elected. I’m sure Obama really WANTS to close down Gitmo, for example, but even he can’t get everything he wants. That’s probably a good thing, no?
    So yes, our election process for the most powerful job on the planet is trivial and trite, at least it is at this point. Check back in one year from today. We’ll talk issues then.

  • David

    Q: Why wouldn’t people read a politician’s plan on a major policy?
    A: because it would take more than 6 seconds

    • Postal Customer

      I won’t read Hillary’s plan because it will never become law. It’s not laziness, that’s too easy an explanation. It’s cynicism.

      Of course Jeb Bush would respond with a total non-sequitur, red herring, phoney-baloney thing. Hillary should have responded to that with: “Oh, student debt increased 100%? Well i have a plan to fix that.” And maybe remind Jebby (the smart one) that Hillary does not control the White House right now.

  • KTN

    “Why don’t people read policy” – because it’s boring for most people. Couple that with the fear that maybe their chosen candidate might have a policy position in opposition to their own – ignorance is sometimes blissful.

    I happen to like policy (majored in it), and I nod off at times reading some of these overwrought positions, blowing which ever way the wind is blowing that day.

  • Kurt O

    15 months until the election…Ugh…

  • tboom

    It’s us. We don’t pay attention. Our fault.