The mass marketing of politics
“The Mass Marketing of Politics, Democracy in an Age of Manufactured Images” is a book by Bruce I. Newman. The intent of this book is to show how marketing has changed the foundations of democracy in the U. S. It discusses the negative impacts of trusting the marketing mentality that drives political campaigns and governments, and presents solution to this “crisis” in order to ensure the protection of democracy and participation of the American electorate in the future. Mr. Newman uses a lot of secondary research data in this book.
He has numerous references to books and to historical political events. Mr. Newman also counted with the collaboration of people who were or are close to the government officials and presidential candidates. Their accounts helped better illustrates some of the author’s points about image control and promotion of politicians. The book makes it clear to the reader that marketing has had a great impact on the electoral process, thus shaping the outcome of the process, and determining who wins office.
In the past the president used to operate in a predictable manner, at least the author claims so. He used to be a teacher and guide. But now that marketing has been drawn to the electoral process, the aids of the presidential campaign need just to analyze the needs of the population and come out with a product (candidate) who will satisfy those needs. Afterwards it is all about budget, promotion, placement, and distribution. The author clearly describes the importance of marketing in today’s elections.
Although he is bound to claim that this manipulation of people conceptions with the help of the marketing field is harmful for democracy in the end since it all becomes fictitious. I think he makes a better case for the necessity presidential candidates have in gaining a better understanding of the marketing tools so they could gain more through their use. Public opinion as the author says is handled by marketing studies. However, as he also notes it becomes harder to govern with marketing as a tool.
Public monitoring heightens when you govern, and so does public discontent, so you have to be better equipped to recognize these fluctuations in order to maintain equilibrium in your mandate. The author states that presidents should recognize this shift towards this marketing managed/ran government. He claims that President Clinton denied he relied on polls to direct his policies. Denial or not, this change towards doing more things to keep people happy is better for us citizens since we know we can at least be heard through polls.
With the applications of marketing techniques there is more room for innovation, there is a necessity for innovation. Mr. Newman recognizes this, and he notes that media has become more evaluative of the image presidents and presidential candidates convey, because they have started to done their research, and they do not simply feed from unknown, unconfirmed sources as they did in the past. With this in mind politicians can no longer make great changes to images, rather they just shape themselves to people wants, and later they create loyalty by constantly sharing their views.
So far all that has been discussed seems to create the idea that there is nothing wrong with the marketing of images, of presidential candidates to the people. I think the author failed to make a very strong case against possible misuses of marketing techniques by politicians. His book turns out be informative both for the people who want to learn how candidates reach them, and for those candidates that want to learn how to operate the marketing tools. The author falls more into attacks to Clinton and his advisors than to the marketing practices he apparently was going to expose when he claimed democracy was shaking.
In Summary, Mr. Newman does present a picture were people could lose if they are only to be manipulated by a shaped reality. However, assuming people are inherently nai?? ve seems to be one of his weak points. He does a very good job in presenting marketing practices in the political arena and how they diverge from the ones in business but the points he claimed to make such as showing the danger to democracy are lost in his explanation of marketing as way to govern. An explanation in which he betters describes the promotion and distribution politicians can achieve, than how those images might harm the American electorate.