ShadowsAugust 28, 2020
“Fear is the lengthened shadow of ignorance.”
— Arnold Glasow
The DNC and RNC Zoom calls, posing as conventions, were all about shadows — not the parties or platforms themselves but perceptions of threats. The Republican Party decided, in another first, to not update its 2016 platform because, you know, not much has happened since Finding Dory and Lemonade dominated the box office and music charts and the Zika virus caused 5,230 symptomatic cases in the US, and one confirmed death.
“Make America great again, again” is the slogan, but the message is “I alone can fix these problems, even if they’re of my own making.” It’s more effective than it sounds. We gave Bush and Obama a second term to figure out Iraq and the economy, respectively.
The DNC Zoom theme was “don’t be afraid of us,” in contrast to the GOP’s “be afraid of them.” Biden argued America needs empathy and competence, and Trump laid out the case for a strongman.
“They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door.”
— Rep. Matt Gaetz
Democratic elder statesmen (or whoever has their hand on the Vice President’s back) decided to opt for the Neosporin of centrists (Kasich, Jones) and limited the cocaine (AOC) to one rail (96 seconds). Fun fact: I’d opt for the Bolivian marching powder, but they didn’t ask.
Actually, they did ask. My friend Tammy Haddad set up a dinner for a bunch of media types at a cool hotel in the East Village — when that was happening — with the charming guy running the DNC’s Zoom call, Joe Solmonese. The dinner started great: Steve Schmidt, the GOP strategist, took me aside and told me how much my book Algebra of Happiness had meant to him.
So, and there’s a lesson here, I now really like Steve. No joke, if you keep your admiration/appreciation to yourself, you are shutting off goodwill and opportunities for friendship. Steve, call me.
So, at the dinner, everyone was asked to offer their advice on the big event, and we went around the table. A lot of great ideas about healthcare, Democrats’ vision for the future, racial justice, unity, etc. My advice (no joke), was to stick to three key themes for the big event. Specifically, three call signs that would dictate all decisions about what people saw and felt at the convention:
My fellow diners seemed somewhere between unimpressed and uncomfortable — it’s not easy to be ageist, lookist, and racist in a 30-second speech. I never heard from Joe again. Tammy still thinks I’m the bomb though.
My thinking. Any great brand strategy clears three hurdles:
OK, hard to be more differentiated from the GOP Zoom call than young, hot, non-white people. Seriously, stand AOC and Yang next to Giuliani and McConnell. Box checked.
Ideas and youth are always relevant, as we want to live longer and believe if we herd with youth and ideas we might get to stick around longer. Walmart and Oracle bidding for TikTok is two midlife-crisis firms believing 15-second videos are hair plugs. If either go through with this, they’re going to look ridiculous. But I digress.
The future in America will be less white and less patriarchal. To be sustainable, look towards the future.
The most powerful moment for the DNC was Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old with a stutter who said Joe Biden made him feel better about his speech impediment.
Powerful. This hit all the notes for Joe, an empathetic man who can make us all feel better. The most powerful moment for the RNC was unscripted. Footage of Senator Paul leaving the convention and being harassed by protestors plays into the GOP narrative. Again, Americans stand to choose a lawless president over lawlessness.
It all boils down to a simple contrast and decision being openly presented. The RNC: We’re the white patriarchy, and it works … vote for us. The DNC: We’re the future, but a noncarbonated future … with a skosh of white patriarchy. The Splenda of political parties.
How Trump Gets Reelected
Democrats are letting the GOP cast a long shadow of fear across America. Fear is typically more of a perception than an actual threat. Mark Twain said, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which have happened.” Democrats could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and unwittingly reelect an incompetent president in the midst of a pandemic and recession, if we continue to make excuses for any looting and the irrational “defund the police” narrative. People are more afraid of the shadow (crime) than the object (criminal).
The real danger to the commonwealth is a party that determines they are not the party of Lincoln but of people who emerge from their homes, pace their lawns, and wave guns at Black people. The shadows distort the reality in the US: We are sick, living in chaos, and fearful.
We’ll want to have said we did something. Get your mail-in ballot and maybe even adopt a state.
Life is so rich,
P.S. Wouldn’t be back to school without our OG, Strategy Sprint. Next one starts October 13. Sign up.
No joke, if you keep your admiration/appreciation to yourself, you are shutting off goodwill and opportunities for friendship. Scott – please make me your friend! :). I love your writing Scott. Pre-lock down, I was supposed to study @ highly ranked U.S. university. After that I thought I will benefit myself and U.S. by applying my skills there. I am no longer sure if I want to stay in States (or will States allow me to!), but I digress. I love what you are doing Scott, you are making sense of things without dumbing them down. Thank you for existing. Love from India
For your enjoyment, I present a quick summary of the final Twilight Zone episode entitled “The Fear” This is the last episode written by series creator/host Rod Serling. Highway Patrol trooper Robert Franklin is dispatched to the remote mountain cabin of brooding New York City magazine editor Charlotte Scott (recuperating from a nervous breakdown), as unexplained occurrences indicate the presence of a mysterious force. Bright flashes of light are seen, strange craters appear, and the trooper’s car is turned on its side, breaking the radio. Back inside, they find the phone dead. Charlotte hears strange noises on the roof; when Robert goes outside to investigate, he finds that his car is back in place—covered in gigantic fingerprints. The two sleep nervously, and go out into the woods the next morning, seeking the giant monster. They find an enormous footprint, leading the socialite to run away, although the nearest village is 30 miles away. She soon stumbles and falls directly into the path of a 500-foot-tall alien with one eye. Realizing that no one will believe their story, the pair are left to stand against the beast. The alien doesn’t attack or move, so Robert approaches and shoots it…and it deflates, revealing itself to be an enormous balloon. The true source of the problem is a small alien spacecraft, containing two aliens no bigger than a man’s thumb. They reveal that all of their trickery has been foiled by “Earth men’s failure to be frightened”, beg their superiors to allow them to depart (or, in their eyes, face being crushed), and finally flee. Robert grins and wishes them luck: “Maybe the next place they land, they can be the giants.” Charlotte asks what will happen if future invaders are giants; Robert informs her that “I think you’d spit in their eye.” She smiles and the camera tilts to the skyline as Serling’s voiceover begins. Closing narration from Rod Serling… and he nails it. “Fear, of course, is extremely relative. It depends on who can look down and who must look up. It depends on other vagaries, like the time, the mood, the darkness. But it’s been said before, with great validity, that the worst thing there is to fear is fear itself. Tonight’s tale of terror and tiny people on the Twilight Zone.” Fear has a large role to play in this and to me it’s the actual disease that needs to be confronted. Inoculate it.
Hi Scott, I am curious, with all the market turmoil and uncertainty, if you remain confident in the long-term success/potential of Lemonade? You mention the company months ago, as an example of meeting most of criteria in your T-Algorithm. Can you share your thoughts?
Please to read my book draft and I contribute to charity of your choice.
If the numbers continue we could have almost 250,000 deaths from covid-19 by election day. Trump only won the presidency by just over a 100,000 votes between 3 states. Will he have killed off enough of his core constituency and alienated enough grieving family members to lose the election just through virus attrition? He only won Michigan by just over 11,000 votes and he’s on track to kill 9,000 Michiganians by election day.
Blaming Trump for Covid deaths is sheer lunacy.
@Bob Not blaming Trump for Covid deaths is sheer lunacy.
Blaming Trump for Covid deaths is ridiculous. If you want to, blame China. Take a look at Governor Cuomo he sends thousands of the elderly to their death by mandating no one can be turned away even with Covid. I say this with all honesty I actually like Governor Cuomo, but he lies and says he didn’t send these elderly to their deaths that’s a lie. I can’t vote for Biden because he’s a pedophile and I can’t vote for Harris because she’s a whore. I like Trump because he’s a businessman, I like my money. My parents worked their bums off so I could have the life I have today, I am passing on that same work ethic with my own kids. I believe in God, Family, Country. I don’t care what color your skin is or your religion what matters is this country is run like a business when one of us wins we all win, that doesn’t mean sucking up to China and taxing those of us whose families came from nothing and became wealthy and successful. We have all colors that work for our company at 40 yrs. When we do well everyone does well. Stop pointing fingers and lift your neighbor up. Stop the hate . Biden is not the man of the people he’s a pedophile, liar, has done nothing for blacks and minorities and for those of us that work our asses off we don’t want our taxes going to illegal immigrants. Be honest every state that the leadership is a Democrat is a shit show . If you love this country and want a future for your kids and family . There is no other choice but Vote Republican Red.
One of the observations of the current situation that I’ve read. I wish Biden had gone to Kenosha on Thursday and taken a public stand for justice and peaceful protest. He has to get out in public and denounce the violence. Trump doesn’t care if his supporters get sick, he wants to win and he’ll do mini rallies for the next 60 days. Biden needs to be seen with people!!!
It is impossible not to love your intelligence. I am Reg INDEPENDENT .. but you to summarize in this way: “The real danger to the commonwealth is a party that determines they are not the party of Lincoln but of people who emerge from their homes, pace their lawns, and wave guns at Black people.” .. PLEASE tell me it was the usual cliché to finish in a “like me KUMBAYA” ?! C’mon! THE PARTY of LINCOLN was not fucking LOOTING too! … You take the last segment and you bring it to the throne! .. what about the previous who brought the people to defend themselves? because the Police has to kiss asses one side or the other one being paid from both sides! Perfect! and we are in the middle of bias forever. For the rest of yours, a great surfing of good stuff and kiss asses arena too .. I feel your historical wave downturn though (and I hope not as you are a good minstrel … But stay on economic forces, your strength! The rest is not your math subject, as too many bias and lies, run in the latrine of power. But hey ! your writing creations? fantastic. My king yours marino maronati Los Angeles
I have black friends that are young, rich and successful nobody is waving guns at black folks unless you show up on my lawn uninvited and storm my property . Last I looked I still have the right to protect my property and my second rights give me the right to bare arms and protect my property and my family, I would expect the same if I showed up uninvited on a black persons property storming their home . You might be surprised but successful people attract successful people and in our Texas group we have all ethnic groups, what we have in common is we love this country, we work hard and we rise by surrounding ourselves from with Ballers . We are Americans .
Honest, non-implicative, purely out-of-curiosity, question: What’s the chances that the post RNC, and similar, street harassments are staged, by some other, non-antifa/BLM, group?
@db so these are honest-to-goodness BLM protesters, not some other group wanting to make the peaceful protesters look bad?
@Joe I’d say the chances that at least some of them are staged/faked to make the actual organizaions look bad approaches 100%
Loved the Mark Twain quote! FEAR = False Events Appearing Real or F… Everything And Run!
RE “Americans stand to choose a lawless president over lawlessness.” is this supposed to be R vs D outcome? Wouldn’t a lawless president create lawlessness? And has not a lawless president created lawlessness by his own actions? So, either way you are saying it will be lawlessness….
Scott, I respect your opinion, BUT you might have missed the GOP opening event. Senator Scott, a black man, and Nikki Haley, Indian American. Both grew up in the South and talked about overcoming adversity. The ‘white’ narrative of the GOP is something I wouldn’t expect your readers to fall for, no matter which party, or no party, is their preference.
Professor Galloway… As a Stern MBA alum, I used to love reading your stuff. Followed you religiously. Valued your business savvy and your pragmatic grasp of the zeitgeist… as it related to business. Once you sold L2 to Gartner and made your fuck you-money, you quickly metastasized into the cliche limousine liberal: You are now rich enough to be a full-throated 21st century Democrat. When did these marketing strategy and business analysis posts become political screeds? This ain’t working for me anymore… it’s you, not me.
See ya Danny!
Best of luck in the future Danny
I agree. I’m not a democrat but don’t mind listening to them if they have valuable advice. Scott’s value, though, is declining. There was a way to write this blog about the conventions and analyze if from a marketing perspective. I knew Trump was going to win in 2016, you know why? I didn’t count lawn signs, I counted Twitter followers (1M+ more than Hil). A year later I ended up working with a very smart, famous man and found out he helped the RNC elect Trump but won’t put it on his resume for fear of discrimination. Trump’s marketing strategy has been brilliant, emotional and heavily leveraged on emergent technologies and therefore deserves a heck of a lot more than reducing it down to “fear”. Because you should be able to talk about why someone succeeded even if you don’t like them.
@jessica 💯 agree
The bigger the Government the smaller the citizen and the Government just keeps on growing. Both sides of politics are playing the same game, pandering to big corporate lobbying and taking their clip on the way through as they introduce legislation that protects special interest groups (Big pharma, Tech giants, MIC etc.) and screws over the rapidly disappearing middle class.
How in the world can the Dems go with a colossal fossil when the country is in such a state of mutiny. From this Canadian’s point of view, the platform is organically pointing towards a younger, more dynamic dude or dudette who can actually get sh&*t done!
The US a media driven country, and no sane person would put their family through an election. So, we have a TV reality show host and a DC swamp fossil. Look what the Democrats did to Brett Kavanaugh and his family. Who needs laws and legal process when you have CNN and MS/NBC on your side?
Scott, you nailed it. I’m with Tammy. Thanks.
The cure for the sick living amongst the chaos and fear is the enabler of it all, Trump. The fact that a man devoid of any leadership qualities, with perhaps the worst performance in modern times, will win again, shows just how out of touch with people the Democratic Party is.
Very good point and I agree with this
I guess I’m just making up in my mind all the violence and anarchy that Democrats are committing. Wow, tone deaf thoughts from another “moderate” liberal. Amazing that the pure of heart just can’t stop talking about the color of your skin and how helpless you are without your white Democrat overlords to make all you choices. I’m not voting for Trump I’m voting against this soft bigotry of low expectations. Thanks Scott for confirming my suspicions that our self important academics who brought us Trump still have no clue how useless they are.
100%. I usually disagree with something in your posts, but I’m 100% all in on this one.
I am not going to call any one names. I am not going to tell you what you are doing is right/wrong. The Prof asked you to adopt a state. I am asking you to adopt Florida. Elections here are won on the margins. In 2018 3 state wide office elections were decided by less than 0.05%, compulsing a recount. Let’s have outright winners this time. You can make a difference. Prof Galloway, I await your email.
WE ARE SICK, LIVING IN CHAOS & FEARFUL! x 4 more years = self-imposed quarantine for fear of Trump’s henchmen!!
“Americans stand to choose a lawless president over lawlessness.” Good observation, Scott. Law and order doesn’t apply if you’re one of his cronies, though. #hypocrisy It’s really disheartening that more people don’t see through Orange’s bullshit.
And a senile candidate to represent ‘progressives’.
Never before have you so widely misinterpreted reality. Time for the over-educated know-it-alls to exit the academia bubble, and honestly acknowledge what is truly happening to free speech. It has become a sanctioned tactic of unabashed cancel and drown out, and no longer any semblance of open dialog and democracy. The longer they keep conjuring up reasons that “we” need to feel guilty without ever having done anything wrong, the more solid my resolve. Those of us that have lived honest, forthright, charitable and giving lives do clearly see these are desperate acts the democratic PARTY enacts to hold onto “their” base. Purely bought and paid for political manipulation. The long term key will be equal education for our entire population (not indoctrination in liberal universities but access at a minimum to gaining solid basic skillsets), creating opportunities and pathway for people to advance ones standard of living if they so choose. Absent from young people’s lives are unbiased teachers, role models and mentors, and influencers with positive messaging. Professional athletes and Hollywood actors, have relegated themselves to being less than irrelevant. They HAD a chance but 99% have proven to be nothing but pathetic self-absorbed over-paid windbags.
So well said. Thank you Mr. Bill!
I support what Mr Bill said.
What about Scott’s article suggested that you were supposed to “feel guilty?” You seem to be reacting to the wrong thing here.
Very well said, sir.
Yours is the bottom line from a professional that I have been communicating to my Seattle City Council member, Lisa Herboldt. David Braun, Alki Seattle
Well again with the tired meme of rural folks are just a bunch of idiots waving guns. I live rurally and the people are kind, loving and sincere. If urban folks think that’s what the people that feed them are it’s a sad state of affairs. How bout we all grow big hearts that are bigger than of demeaning sarcastic elitist tongues?
Or maybe we can all agree that we all have the same rights and the governments job is to protect those right. Instead they go around looking to solve everyone’s problems but only make them worse. Let’s have less Washington and state capitals in our lives.
If they used the term De-militarize the Police instead of Defund the Police, the intent would be clearer. Since the 1960’s the nature of delivering police services has become more militarized force than public safety promotion. Just look at popular culture: Car 54, Drag Net, Andy Griffith, Adam 12 were all shows involving police. You never saw guns or violence. Even Officer Krupke in West Side Story. That was the perception of how police should interact in their community. By the 70s you have Dirty Harry and SWAT, Starsky & Hutch. They were the reaction to late 60’s riots and Patty Hearst/SLA. Even “community policing” was more about stop and frisk intimidation than it was about creating community safety. And it all plays into the hands of the prison industrial complex costs. Why does the free-est country in the world have the most incarcerated people per capita?
You are right. By Prof’s own standards, Defund The Police is a terrible tagline. It sounds lawless by definition and instantly requires an explanation that has to start with “…well obviously we still need to fund the police…”
@Tim Dunn If anything, i think they should increase police budgets so they can hire better qualified people (e.g. with criminal justice degrees) and get more training in de-escalation.
Yeah I’m sure the rioters and looters were shouting that before torching a minority business. Slow clap for liberals.
Yeah, whoever came up with that term Defund the Police was nuts….and wrong. Sure, the police in many cases need to reevaluate their purpose and tactics. But we do need the police. As I recall, didn’t they get a lot of “retired” military equipment in years past and now they have all these armored vehicles, etc….sorta like a paramilitary. I think that changed things. I used to work for local government and the police do lots of good things. But there are some bad apples in there too. Anyway, “Defund the Police” should be eliminated from our vocabulary.
Heard you on Guy’s podcast. Love your no-nonsense approach, which is so hard to find this day and age. Need to learn from you on how to build an ethical company. Oh wait, you have a strategy sprint class too! Signed up for that!
Still waiting for you to speak against your employer for raising tuition at this time. Maybe morals only apply when there is no paycheck involved?
If you listen to his platform and podcasts you will know he has advocated for the dismantling of the status quo in higher ed for the last few years.
Ya he literally tore a hole in NYU on his podcast this week for raising fees. Best to be sure of facts before throwing shade on the web no?
@Tim exactly! And i am pretty sure Scott is not teaching at NYU for the paycheck. LOL
His criticisms of higher education are shared far and wide and I think he’s right on a lot of it. A lot of the other politics not so much but I do respect him.
@Tim my apologies then. I was unaware of the podcast.
What ever happened to the melting pot theory? Do I need a DNA test now to determine what party I am supposed to vote for? Do American lives matter? I hope we get past this nonsense .
Biden. Is. Not. The. Issue. Dems could win the popular vote by 6 million – and Trump could still get reelected. The issue is the systemic flaw in our election process known as the Electoral College. It’s not the Electoral College per se that’s the flaw – it’s the ‘winner-takes-all’ feature of Electoral College votes that’s the seismic defect. “A candidate who narrowly wins the tipping-point states will win the presidency, regardless of the margin of victory in the rest of the country.” Without going into the history of the Electoral College, we’ve known about this flaw literally since inception: “It wasn’t like the Founders said, ‘Hey, what a great idea! This is the preferred way to select the chief executive, period,’” says Edwards. “They were tired, impatient, frustrated. They cobbled together this plan because they couldn’t agree on anything else.” They couldn’t agree on anything else! We could have changed it. We should have changed it – but we never did and at least for 2020 we’re stuck with it and I’m not convinced the election hinges on Biden’s power of persuasion for an even wider margin of popular votes. I’m confident he’ll give it everything he has – but I also see the bigger flaw we’re up against. We’re like a car careening full throttle toward a cliff. Biden is pressing as hard as he can on the brakes – but the laws of physics are immutable – and it’s very possible we’ve played with them – and defied them – for just too long.
I beg to differ. The small states were concerned about the tyranny of the majority. The House represents the people’s will, the Senate the States. In a State election, winner takes all for the Executive Branch. One Governor even if he/she wins by 1 vote. That’s the way a Republic works. It was not a mistake at our founding and its not a mistake today. The House tends to be more radical and more progressive. The Senate provides a balance and takes more time to deliberate ideas—some of which are sound good at the moment, but don’t stand the test of time. That has worked wonders for our imperfect, but improving country. Maybe not at the speed in the short run you would like but much better in the long run.
Precisely. The only people who complain about the Electoral College are folks whose team didn’t win. Is there a better system? Maybe. But the EC makes candidates fight and campaign in states they would otherwise ignore. For all the hankering about Hilary Clinton winning the popular vote by 2.8M votes in 2016, her margin alone in California alone was over 4M.
You understood the civics lesson 50%. You are correct how it works, you are wrong that it is broken.
@Barry Weinman Well put, seldom understood, and as important today as ever.
Scott, you appear to have accepted the myth that this is a severely messed up country and we need to transform it. The reality is that this is a great country and if we had the ability to talk reasonably, we could probably come up with some decent solutions to the minor problems we have. It doesn’t help to exaggerate these problems, but the political class does it to advance some goofy agenda. The challenge is that the left has moved (way) to the wacky left and the right has reacted (as conservatives are wont to do) by moving further right.
Yes, I wish we spent more time actually stating what we have in common. It’s equal opportunity, follow the rules, and pay taxes, and vote. If you don’t win an election it doesn’t mean America is evil.
@Doug hahaha – which rules and for whom do they apply? same with taxes… same with opportunity… same with anything else you may come up with… hahaha
@Bryan Adams- Hey Bryan, just because you got your first real six-string and bought it at the five-and-dime….oh, never mind. 🙂
Talk about misperception and distortion. Perhaps you should fix yours first. The only people who have been ‘waving guns’, destroying innocent people’s property and reigning terror in US cities have been black people. I have never been racist, despite the fact that my white sister was shot to death by her black husband when she was finally going to walk away from years of physical abuse. But time and again (including with my sister) blacks compleyely and unequivocally demonstrate and prove the profile for violence. If they want to lose the profile, maybe they should lose the violence. As Dr. King pointed out, you cure hate with love, and darkness with light. And Democrats capitalizing on this recent wave of violence and stupidity is truly appalling.
You know Dr. King was murdered by a white guy, right?
Boy are you mistaken…..have you watched the news recently? Lots of fascist white folks out there with guns. Like that rich couple that the trump highlighted at the convention. Nutso….
@Sigh The violence just needs to stop. Period. Doesn’t matter what ‘color’ is involved. The point was that violence doesn’t fix Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. And BLM started this last useless, senseless round. Of course there were also ‘white’ idiots reacting. Proves the point. And the actual larger point was how sleazy the Democrats are to actually majorly capitalize politically on this. A clear demonstration they have truly nothing of actual substance to offer.
@Susan Smith Kinda like the way the GOP capitalized on white evangelicals? Child, please.
Perceived safety is always more powerful than actual safety. Actual safety requires doing mundane tasks, like battening down the hatches, making sure you have enough supplies, making emergency response plans. Perceived safety just requires you to scream “something wicked this way comes” and “I’ve got your back, follow me.” Using FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) selling always is more impactful when you focus on perceived safety. And right now, many Americans have the perception that the world is unsafe. Definitely an effective tactic to be used by a strongman candidate. The “defund the police” messaging fits perfectly within a FUD perceived safety structure. It just essentially scares the crap out of anyone who is even a little bit jittery. I worry that the perceived threat of anarchy will drown out a more realistic message of “make everyone safer with different law enforcement.” And if the Dems don’t start to think intentionally they will be handing a win back to their opponents. It feels like the Dems are thinking in a reactionary mode rather than an intentional way. At this point, politics is a bar room brawl. If you didn’t bring your iron knuckles you are going to get sucker punched right when you weren’t looking. The Dems need to watch out for the strongman sucker punch.
I appreciate your perspectives. I think the only way to overcome all of the current issues is to avoid politics and come together as concerned citizens to fix problems.
I share your sentiment but liberals don’t actually go to black communities and pick up trash and plant trees. They take your tax dollars, wash it through their special interests and give a few pennies to minorities for their votes.
I keep reading that you love adoration, Scott, so I’m commenting to say I love your blog, podcast, and I’m reading your book right now. Keep up the good work.