Tag: Ted Cruz

The Politics of Design & Why It Matters More Than Ever

The Wilderness  |  Issue 48  | 4 . 23 . 15 |

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The need to present Hillary Clinton as the candidate best suited for the country going forward, and not the one that reminds us of our past, is one that her campaign clearly believes is their top priority right now. This was evidenced by her lifting lines directly from Marco Rubio’s announcement speech a day after hers about a “21st century America” and building “An economy for tomorrow” at a roundtable in Iowa. Clinton opted for a mostly-digital roll out that she barely made an appearance in. A much younger, much more affable Rubio took to a stage to remind an audience that yesterday is over.

The line stung.

Being the aged candidate of yesterday is a label Hillary Clinton cannot shake on her own. She’s been part of the national and international political scene since long before a youthful generation of millennials have even been able to cast a vote in a national election. On top of that she’s facing a new crop of GOP candidates that have an entire blank slate to work from. For the first time in generations the political board has been completely flipped upside down. The Democrats find themselves saddled with geriatric establishment candidates who will be forced to overcome their messaging of the past. In order to accomplish this, they will turn to the symbolic visual identity that made Barack Obama an iconic force in American Culture. Clinton opted for a roll out that resembled a product launch, not a political campaign. There was a very specific reason for this and it has everything to do with how Obama changed the political landscape forever.

The gamble they are taking is that young voters on college campuses and pop stars will rally around a corporate brand once again, not the flawed message of the candidate themselves. It’s a game they have won overwhelmingly twice already. But the important thing to remember is single letter qualifiers didn’t start with Barack Obama’s iconic O logo. It started in 2004, with a W.

ObamaLogosEarly on, Obama’s team still didn’t have the game completely figured out.  It took David Axelrod contacting partners at a high design firm in Chicago to come in and clean up Obama’s identity. At the time, Facebook was still relatively young, Twitter was a celebrity promotional tool no different than MySpace, and the idea of political branding was almost completely nonexistent. The need for an all-encapsulating logo was restricted to stars and stripes on bumper stickers and buttons. Obama’s young team of forward-thinking advisors engaged experts in marketing to gauge the future of online branding.

What they knew is that Barack Obama was a blank slate that voters, if sold the right way, would attach whatever meaning they wanted to. There is this impression that Barack Obama was always this cool and media savvy candidate and his advisors all just sat around in awe at his political sermons. We think of him like that because they want us to – by design.

Obama has never been forward-thinking or revolutionary as it comes to liberal politics. It feels that way, because he is packaged that way. The attraction to Obama was almost based on branding alone. Had his team gone a different direction, with one of several rejected logos, the election could have in fact gone a very different direction.

Pre-Obama political design was much like anything else in pre-Obama politics: it wasn’t so much about branding ideas as a corporate identity, as it was an ornament to what the candidate was saying. We didn’t view candidates as a simple aside to whatever the advertising was around them. The branding was a complement to the candidate. With Obama, that paradigm was flipped. Political design was restricted to the candidate’s name and choice of serif or sans-serif font so it didn’t overshadow the message of the candidate themselves.

But Barack Obama didn’t have a lot to say.

The sloganeering he did sell he sold very well. He played his part perfectly as a spokesperson of a larger branding campaign, and for the most part still does. Obama’s marketing and his logo specifically acted as a shield for him to hide his rather extremist views and associations. People had to believe they weren’t voting for a candidate for President with very little background information and experience. They had to believe they were part of a movement. A pop culture phenomena. People want to be a part of fad movements because culture is like a comet. We never know when or even if these moments will come around again. The gravitational pull to belong to it becomes irresistible. If a candidate allows themselves to be defined by the branding around them, they become a symbol. They become Pepsi or Nike or a sports team, creating lifelong, loyal fans, not voters. That’s what defines the success behind Barack Obama. Barack Obama’s worldview is irrelevant when Shepard Fairey is immortalizing him into pop culture.

This was just another area (along with voter outreach and data mining) where the Obama team, through very good market calculations, were able to reduce the GOP to the party of constantly trying to catch up. Barack Obama came across to impressionable consumers as a popular product, not a politician, and it immediately made John McCain look older than he already was. Mitt Romney’s branding identity was better. His team embraced cleaner and more modern design but in the end it just simply felt like they were ripping off Obama whose team had moved on to simple Gotham font and instagram filters. Voters will always choose “the real thing.”

The idea of this kind of political branding lionization won’t be going away.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton specifically is attempting the exact same type of campaign, even to the point of bringing on former Obama advisors to help rejuvenate her image. Within hours of announcing her candidacy, Hillary Clinton’s social media identity had changed over to a similar corporate branding identity, complete with website redesign logo. Gone is the stark black and white picture of her, hungover with Blackberry in hand, staring at mysterious emails that no long exist. Voters are now expected to buy into Hillary’s design entity, just as they were Obama’s.

The results thus far have been lukewarm at best.

Her logo was widely panned by design experts and critics and deservedly so. Like most things Hillary, it came across as someone trying too hard to capture the identity of someone they’re not. John Ekdahl of Ace of Spades observed on Twitter how Hillary Clinton chose Brooklyn, the design Mecca of the United States as her hip, young, cool, place to set up her campaign, but then rolls out a traditional and safe, boring design that incorporates almost nothing of what made Obama’s evolving brand successful. Users on Reddit even went so far as to completely redesign her logo using a Shutterstock image, and distributed it on social media hoping for the campaign to wake up and take notice. Graphic Designer, Rick Wolf created an entire typeface based on the logo which the Washington Post turned into a word generator. Conservatives had just as much, if not more, fun with this than devotees of Clinton. MS Paint or a hospital road sign seemed to be the prevailing go-to reactions as to what the Hillary ‘H’ evoked. Despite all the humorous attempts to modernize it, Hillary’s logo is lifeless, flat and immobile, all suitable (if not subconsciously telling) descriptions of the client it represents.

And yet: none of these criticisms actually matter. They miss the point entirely.

The actual design of the logo is irrelevant compared to the collective purpose it serves and why. It’s not the logo that matters, it’s what the consumer projects onto it. Like any other logo or brand design, you have to understand the motivations of the designer.

Michael Bierut, the founder of Design Observer and co-partner at Pentagram (yes, Hillary’s campaign contracted a design firm named Pentagram) is the chief design architect behind Hillary’s logo and one of the giants in the design industry. He’s familiar to just about any design professional or, at the very least, to anyone who has seen the 2007 documentary Helvetica. “A lot of what we see happening in a logo isn’t actually happening in a logo – it happens in our own mind,” Bierut states in a short interview for Design Indaba (video above). “What’s interesting, particularly, about that kind of telegraphic communication is that it it is inherently participatory.” This is the clearest explanation as to why political candidates, post-Obama, should feel the need for any kind of logo to begin with, and why a branding identity is now so vital to their success.

“You’re sort of taking all that experience you’ve had with that product or that institution or whomever that symbol represents and you’re imposing it onto what can be very simple shapes that really have no inherent meaning at all.” From here on out and for the rest of her political life, for better or worse, Hillary is stuck with that H.

The branding resonance that grew up around the branding of Barack Obama felt organic (it wasn’t). With a 67-year-old Hillary Clinton it already feels forced and is perhaps the most symbolic struggle so far of why Clinton will struggle between siphoning off Obama’s youthful pop culture iconography, while trying to distance herself from his very real policy failures and stake out her own positions as the grand elder stateswoman and not his third term. The media, along with the DNC, have admitted that their goal is to “Kardashianize” Hillary Clinton: embed her so far into the pop-culture consciousness of the country that Election Day is all but a foregone conclusion. The forward-pointing H is meant to protect Hillary from her lack of record and shady associations, just as Obama’s shield did for his. It will be a much more difficult task for her to achieve than it was for him, but it may not matter if she reaches brand status.

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This is the game we all are forced to play now. Candidates aren’t just pushing their policy positions anymore. They are pushing their identity as brands. The exact same way Pepsi Cola or a celebrity would. Sunday morning appearances on talk shows with dwindling audiences aren’t good enough. There must be a presence on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Pinterest and Reddit that goes beyond their basic political messaging. This is the reason good branding is so crucial and why members of media circle around and breathlessly try to breakdown the meaning of why Rand Paul’s logo resembles Tinder (it doesn’t) or why Ted Cruz’s logo looks like a tear drop (it does). Marco Rubio’s team abandoned bold logo design almost completely, opting for a design identity that would be fresh – if his 2016 online store sold home pregnancy tests.

So far all three declared GOP candidate campaigns are opting for a more traditional design identity while, for better or worse, Hillary’s arrow is instantly recognizable. Notice: I didn’t include either Hillary’s 2016 logo or Obama’s in this piece, and yet most people reading this already have both seared into their minds, and that’s the overall value provided by this new age of political branding.

GOP candidates have caught up and caught on but they ignore the importance of brand recognition when it comes to their campaigns at their own peril. Come 2016 the country will be looking for a new identity, and it may just decide to settle on the one they recognize the most.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith Healer: The Sermon of Ted Cruz

The Wilderness  |      Issue 44    |   3 . 24 . 15 |

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Political strategy is much like professional sports. When a team wins a championship other teams will inevitability try to duplicate their strategy in hopes of similar success. This is essentially the phenomenon behind the evangelical rock stardom of Ted Cruz 2016. Network media has cocooned Barack Obama into a political pop culture icon, a brand instead of a politician, and ever since, Conservatives have been searching for his allied, self-perceived equivalent and in Ted Cruz, they found it.

Almost no politician has calcified the passions of social conservatives as Cruz. He has symbolically led them back from a political wilderness. His healing of the Conservative base is undeniable. Cruz became the guy bringing them water as they lay parched and dying in the desert. Cruz has always been the chief antagonizer of an Obama administration skating by on well wishes and good intentions from network media. That role remained vacant for almost three years and it was ripe for the taking. Cruz stepped up and took an almost self masochistic pleasure staking out defiant stances against this admin and Obamacare. Obama, Reid and Pelosi had no idea how to play him because they had gone so long without someone unwilling to compromise their principles in opposing them.

Cruz has always been the Joker showing an entire room full of Democrat mobsters his magic pencil trick.

They’re not alone. This is what the GOP donor and establishment class never understood about him either. He is a true believer. If Cruz tells them he can walk on water, he’ll find a way to do it, usually by letting a devoted base of political fanatics simply spread the rumors that he can, and that they saw him actually do it. Much similar to other leaders of faith, he developed powerful enemies in the process. This of course only made his stature grow, and his followers more staunch. Conservatives finally had an idol and no one will take that away from them. Not Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Not John Boehner or Mitch McConnell and certainly not online critics and pundits.

Conservative critics of Cruz are often on the receiving end of the wrath of Cruz’s devout following more so because the love of Cruz isn’t based in policy. It’s based in faith. Almost nothing is more sacred to an individual than that. Any faint criticism of Ted Cruz’s tactics and strategy from either side unleashes an online parade of locust trolls that would make Moses jealous.

Cruz is a religious celebrity much the same way Tim Tebow is, and has just as strong a following. What ardent Cruz online supporters don’t understand however is a criticism on Tim Tebow’s throwing technique is not a criticism on his character or his principles. This applies to Ted Cruz as well. You can be a season ticket holder of the New York Jets and still concede that they aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. The problem with this kind of political fanaticism is it plays right into the hands of the media and Obama administration.

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The Obama administration was all too happy to take it upon themselves to use this cult like aura and use it to paint Cruz as a conservative boogeyman who with the wave of a hand would erase birth control and healthcare for everyone. They successfully were able to turn Sarah Palin into a media caricature, both during and after the 2008 election  and were all too eager to deploy the only Alinksy bomb tactics their leader knows against Cruz. During the Government shutdown of 2013, Cruz took center stage in late night monologues and Daily Show skits and his transformation from idealistic Jr. Senator to proverbial boogeyman was complete.

The left have their new Sarah Palin and they are dedicated to portraying Ted Cruz as such.

Prior to his Presidential announcement, members of the media immediately took it upon themselves to concentrate on the same Palinesque style attacks. Both Philip Rucker of The Washington Post and Blake Hounshell of Politico stated on Twitter that Ted Cruz kissing his wife at a walk through was staged and rehearsed, which allowed Democrat ops to chime in about the religious nature of Liberty University itself. Mind you these are the people who have obsessively crafted every single nuance around Barack Obama or Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage.

Palin however has a liberated freedom that Cruz, as a sitting Senator, does not. Leftist media in-particular has always under estimated Palin’s blue collar appeal and routinely overplayed their hand in going after her to the point of having to apologize to her and her family, repeatedly. Palin, out of power and out to develop a permanent branding foothold in popular culture, gleefully embraces the bobble head, sassy hockey mom persona the media always painted her out to be and she has done it quite brilliantly. She’s turned their own game around on them and has been trolling them every since. She doesn’t have to worry about running for any more elections (Sorry 2016 and 2020 hold outs) and could concentrate and becoming a typhoon of conservative personality. Ted Cruz is a political birth product of that and is indebted to Palin for it. Her followers naturally translate over to him. He brings that same kind of faith based appeal to conservatives and social conservatives in-particular and with it comes their rabid activist passion. They see what media did to Sarah Palin. They’re not going to let it happen again. From anyone. 

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This is the talent of conviction Ted Cruz brings to politics that others simple just don’t have. Barack Obama has always been a blank slate. Hand him a piece of paper with some catchy slogans, turn the reverb up to eleven and out comes the preacher drawl and U2 songs. But take that all away and Obama becomes flustered, quiet and more reserved. Cruz has the ability to take a stage with no teleprompter and free wheel it and he’s certainly more of a religious show person than Obama has ever tried to be. Take away Obama’s pyrotechnics and he becomes mortal. Give Ted Cruz a hill and an audience and he excels.

It’s the difference between being an actual snake handler and snake oil salesman.

Cruz’s somewhat surprise announcement and launch of his presidential campaign is a reward to his conservative base. His developing theme of growing a loyal army of Courageous Conservatives, a theme that is almost guaranteed to stick, is one that will be too undeniable to resist for them. It’s like throwing a lion a steak. His stand alone appearances come off as faith based in nature more than policy statements. His Presidential announcement at Liberty University resembled a Joel Osteen or Hillsong Megachurch rock concert and Cruz is clearly playing the angle of pastor-in-chief. Cruz as the role of a political televangelist is an intriguing angle and one we have seen attempted before but not as masterful.

He’s more intelligent and more charismatic to pull the act off then say a Rick Santorum who comes off more like the sexually frustrated flagellant neighbor who knocks on your door every Sunday and asks why he didn’t see you in church. Mike Huckabee looks a little too excited to spend his Friday nights listening to pop music backwards in hopes of discovering Satanic verses. Cruz has a more mischievous sense of humor, like he already knows the punchline to the joke you think you’re clever for telling him. That was demonstrated by making an entire DC beltway press corps stay up past midnight est. to see what announcement he was going to make on Twitter. His breezy air of confidence is frustrating to late night hosts who have tried to rattle him with political policy but are completely caught off guard and unable to process that his policy and his faith are one in the same. He’s a soldier of social conservatism who knows he has a devoted army on his side.

He doesn’t have to yell.

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A rabid fan base can go a long way in politics when it comes to online fights, but rarely does it translate over to electoral victories. Ever since the idol worshiping election of 2008, conservatives in-particular have been holding out for a hero to the point of forcing a cult of personality on people that largely agree with them. But Cruz supporters need to understand that Barack Obama was not elected because of rabid online mob trying to stomp out any and all opposition they think is out to break their favorite GI Joe. He was elected on an unprecedented data collection movement on the ground and helped by a fawning media who could not sit idly by and allow the 2004 election to repeat itself all over again.

Cruz could very well be the most principled conservative in generations but he’s also limited to expressing it to a base that largely agrees with him anyway. If Cruz can’t develop a broad grassroots movement on the ground, his declarations of evangelical conservative principles are meaningless.

The challenge for Cruz becomes if voters in blue wall states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado can become true believers. If his brand of rhetorical political televangelism catches on after eight years of religious marginalization by the Obama administration, while simultaneously avoiding the box that far right batshit crazy leaders like Pat Robertson will inevitably try to put him in, things will get interesting. He’s betting on tapping into jaded young social conservatives who have, as mentioned before, turned to Hillsong culture for a place they feel they can belong. If he can convince them he is their Shepherd then perhaps there is a symbolic path to the White House.

He embraces that preacher/savior role and in doing so he makes it easy for the media and leftists to marginalize him to independent, younger more libertarian minded voters and paint him as a real life Henry Kane from Poltergeist 2. Almost no Conservative politician has tried to conjure the ghost of Ronald Reagan more than Ted Cruz and that very real cliche will only metastasize the more the media spotlight is on him. If anything we’ve learned repeatedly, the more a modern day politician tries to invoke Reagan, the more we come to realize that person is not Reagan.

Reagan could always translate conservatism to non traditional audiences. Cruz doesn’t seem to be making that play. He’s pitching a tent and inviting the sick and disenfranchised to enter so he can place his hands on their head. The country is exhausted from ten years of listening to one long sermon. The question becomes if we’re prepared to listen to one for another ten.

We are burned out on seeing a President treated like a demi-god. We need real fact and data based solutions to begin rebuilding 8 years of disastrous and divisive policies. It’s because of Cruz’s stylings and appeal to faith that an almost cult-like political aura of support grows around him. He can certainly march his loyalists into battle against the left and the right. But the question remains if he will have enough of them to conquer Hillary Clinton.

Sermons won’t win this election. Solutions will.

 

 

– SM –

 

 

The Hangover: Obama Loses His Cool

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A great philosopher once said “There’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.” Ok, that was Dr. Evil in Austin Powers. However, the aging hipster that occupies the Oval Office is certainly living up to that observation.?The Obama White House, in several desperate attempts, is shamelessly squeezing every last ounce of magical Hope and Change they have left in a final push to somehow make a health care law suddenly popular and attractive to young people who aren’t buying the gimmicks.

While Barack Obama goes on an internet and daytime TV tour, begging people to save his presidency and legacy, Rand Paul is getting standing ovations at UC Berkeley, Marco Rubio is speaking at Google and Ted Cruz is popping up in street art all over Los Angeles.

The contrast is striking and the times are changing.

interviedWhen Barack Obama appeared on Zach Galifianakis’ web show Between Two Ferns, it was hailed and applauded by Obama media loyalists as hilarious new ground and cutting edge. Almost immediately, administration members took to social media and Twitter to praise the success of clicks and views.

The only problem was over 3 million (15 million at present) immediate views didn’t translate to Obamacare enrollments. Only 19,000 people of those initial 3 million bothered to even go to the website. That doesn’t account for any enrollments that actually came from Obama’s appearance because the administration won’t release that data but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say 3 people.

Fans who love Galifianakis watched Obama, laughed, then they went to class, or work, or back to bed. The ones that did entertain the idea of enrolling in Obamacare went to healthcare.gov, saw that Obamacare isn’t free (as advertised), closed their browsers, went to class or work, or back to bed.

Obama can’t sell health care because he’s never sold anything. He can’t give anyone a reason to pay a couple hundred dollars for something that they might need.  Supply and demand, no different than Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street telling someone to sell him a pen.

Obama and his advisors think because Zach Galifianakis is funny and popular, that appearing with him will make Obama funny and popular and therefore they will run out and sign up for whatever he tells us to. The problem is Zach Galifianakis isn’t funny or popular because he promotes a complicated health insurance or the incoherent details of the law we’re all mandated to follow.

Galifianakis wasn’t the pitchman in that skit. The President who already lied to you about being able to keep your plan, period, was.

This has become the pattern with Barack Obama now. Six years ago it was cool when he went on The Ellen Show to dance and say “Elect me!”. Now he’s going on The Ellen Show to talk about how cool health insurance is and oh by the way, you may have to?give up your cell phone and cable to pay for it. This is a President who has always relied on media loyalists and celebrities to act as his credibility crutch. We’ve always been told how cool and competent Obama is by them and then when it comes time to enact actual policy and govern, Obama fails to demonstrate it himself. He simply delays it.

We tune in when Obama dances for us. We tune out when he asks us to fork over a couple hundred dollars for a new expense.

Celebrities are good at selling Obama. Obama can’t see his own policies. Perhaps Presidents of the past felt such displays were shameful to the office they held. Maybe they just believed they didn’t need to submit themselves to meme whoring to push their own ideas on the American people. Good presidents understand that good policy sells itself. They don’t walk out, do a dance, juggle and wait for the applause. The pay off often isn’t worth the risk of diminishing their capital. Except with Obama and the White House, which is his to do whatever he wants with and he cares more about looking cool than being President.

whgifsRight now on the official White House website, there is a campaign dedicated to gifs and memes coordinated around the start of the NCAA basketball tournament (Because filling out a bracket in front of the country apparently wasn’t enough this year).

Members of Obama’s digital media team even gloated at critics and “trolls” while making tasteless cat pun jokes. The only problem? None of the links to the healthcare.gov website, the only reason for this ridiculous campaign, worked. Several Twitter users alerted the same cackling hyenas to these mistakes but it took a Buzzfeed writer pointing out, hours after the launch, at how incompetent they were at buzzfeeding before the website links were fixed. Cat-tastrophe!

 The Obama Administration isn’t beholden to the same brand and marketing strategies as private business because there are no consequences for the creative decisions they make. They don’t have shareholders (taxpayers are inconsequential other than to generate tax dollars, wait “revenue”) to answer to. There is no requirement to ensure a return on investment with their tasteless campaigns. Some of the most brilliant advertising (the Geico lizard, Allstate Mayhem Man, etc…) is carefully designed to connect to the brand’s audience. Who is the audience for the appalling advertisements the Obama Administration has put out? 27 year olds kicked off their parent’s health care plan are now going to enroll in Obamacare because of a blinking cat?

At this rate it’s expected the Obama administration is going to release photoshop memes exploiting missing flight MH 370 with the text “Get on board before it vanishes on March 31st!”marketingquote2

This is why during the last Presidential election, Mitt Romney was ridiculed for his remarks regarding Putin and Russia, while Obama was applauded for focusing on binders and Big Bird, because social media dictated his campaign’s messaging. Not events happening in the world. His advisors have tried to replicate that same kind of presidency, one that is dictated by social media trends and pop culture. Except there is no twerking gif, or funny webisode that will give people their doctor or their premium back, just as LeBron James isn’t going to prevent Vladimir Putin from expanding his power into other sovereign nations.

Leaders around the world like Vladimir Putin don’t “rspect” Funny or Die. They laugh at it with everyone else and then instead of closing their web browser, they invade countries unimpeded. Countries like Israel see Obama filling out an NCAA bracket on TV and?throw their arms up.

What’s completely lost on this administration is that athletes, movie stars and talk show hosts aren’t the ones that will sign up for Obamacare and be forced to pay a premium they can no longer afford. LeBron James won’t enroll in Obamacare when he blows a knee out and neither will Jonah Hill’s mom. Obama is enlisting everyone to sell his healthcare law that won’t be affected by it in the slightest. There are no doctors, nurses, health administrators or stay-at- home moms selling Obamacare.

Because those people, while infinitely more important to the success of our healthcare system, aren’t cool. Obama isn’t desperately clinging to health experts to sell his image, he’s clinging to the people that used to write his slogans on their hands.

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cruz posterRand Paul took his anti-NSA, anti-Obama message into the den of progressive civil liberties; Berkeley.

While Barack Obama is telling college students to give up their cell phones to pay for healthcare, Rand Paul is telling them to pay attention to their phone more than ever, as the whistleblower mythology of Edward Snowden grows larger among them.

The timing couldn’t be better, with beloved San Francisco icon Senator Diane Feinstein beginning to wage all out war against the CIA and NSA for allegedly spying on her own computers.

On the opposite coast, the featured image in this post?of the name “Snowden” spray painted and?juxtaposed with one of many stencil Lincolns was taken in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which like UC Berkeley is not exactly the conservative hotbed of cultural relevance.

Marco Rubio took his pro-growth messaging to Google.

Last week posters of a tattooed and smoking Ted Cruz were plastered all over LA Streets. Breitbart.com was the first to pick up the story but the news soon spread around Twitter to the point where progressive news outlets like ABC News were forced to report on them?

The response was overwhelming and Cruz himself responded to the caricature?on Twitter and even signed a copy. It was revealed that conservative political street artist Sabo was the culprit behind the work.

The people that Barack Obama is trying to reach with twerking gifs, the rebellion wing of the GOP is reaching with Google, graffiti and tattoos.

The rebellion wing of the GOP doesn’t need to position themselves as the party of answers and solutions, yet. They should continue to build the “badass” brand of opposition to pandering tweets and Obama digital memes with YOLO in them. Embrace the image that Barack Obama himself is crafting for them.

As “Obamacare enrollments” (subject to actual payment data which the administration won’t release and the press won’t ask about) move at a sluggish pace, magically hitting 5 million with zero evidence to back up administration claims, and the amount of money spent on ad campaigns as it relates to enrollment returns skyrockets, the country is no doubt suffering from Obama fatigue. They want the product to work or to go away. Obama himself is suffering from the hangover of an increasingly unpopular and disastrous health care law that no amount of late show appearances can beat back.

Barack Obama can either be the cool celebrity hanging out with comedians and appearing on ESPN to make basketball picks or he can be the President sitting on a 40% approval rating and the face of a mandated law that has hurt millions of Americans or has been flat out ignored by the rest.

He was elected to be only one of those things.

– SM –

Randolution: The Peoples Choice, For Now.

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Engaging in any speculation of the 2016 presidential election is, for the most part, theater of the absurd. It keeps the media busy and preoccupied from focusing on their exhausted fad and current occupant of the Oval Office. On January 20th, 2017, a new President will take the Oath of Office and on January 21st the media will start pontificating on who the front runners are for each party in 2022. At this point in George W. Bush’s second term, Barack Obama was a still ?largely unknown outside of Bill Ayers’ living room.

However, something of note is happening right under the feet of the RNC and their massive rebranding effort that have larger implications then just the election in 2016. The party is being rebranded and they seemingly aren’t even aware of it.

This was evident this past weekend at CPAC 2014 (Conservative Political Action Conference) when Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky took the stage. This is certainly not an endorsement (no one should be tied by blood to anyone at this point), just an observation of the landscape a new generation of young conservatives is crafting. The waves Paul is making among? youth of all political parties have been growing for some time. Now they are becoming undeniable.

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The RNC had better be paying attention. They claim to want to attract more youth voters. They should then listen to what they cheer for the most. They claim to want more minority voters. Look at what even the most ardent media critics with disdain for the GOP are saying. The RNC is taking giant steps to reach voters, finally catching up to Team Chicago on data mining. The question has to then become how to keep them?

Rand Paul thinks he has the answers. Young people crave rebellion. It’s in their DNA and they don’t care what political party that person stands for when they feel it, see it and most importantly hear it.

The only person they are hearing it from at this moment is Paul.

Marco Rubio is the best young conservative speaker since Ronald Reagan and is beginning to branch out but sweeping generalities don’t win elections at the moment in time that they are held, the issues at hand do. For all of the soaring grandiloquence?Barack Obama bellowed out in 2008, it was the financial crisis and the suspension of the McCain campaign that swept him into office.?There must be more than soaring rhetoric after 10 years of empty soaring rhetoric.

Rick Perry can cheer on a good old-fashioned Rebellion, but when anyone under the age of 30 sees Rick Perry in hipster glasses, they see a walking Cialis commercial and a return to Michael Bay-style politics of nuke first and ask later.

Scott Walker has the bruises, the record and the conservative appeal but whether or not it plays nationally is a mystery, as well as his intentions.

Chris Christie still has bridge issues and he will until the year 2038 (Ready For Chelsea!) if MSNBC has their way.

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Ted Cruz has a firm grip on the hardcore base but not the support of the entrenched overall party. That doesn’t mean it’s fair and it’s not an excuse but that makes it hard to raise money and convince donors. The most personable Ted Cruz ever got was when he appeared on The Tonight show which allowed to him to show the country he was not the simple caricature?the media was making him out to be. He has proven himself an able and charismatic warrior but the question has to be asked is if he is ready or will he be pushed into a race before his time by a base frothing at the mouth for a Sarah Palin replacement.

The only person reaching into the deep well of conservative and libertarian youth at this moment in time is Rand Paul. But nothing Rand Paul is saying is unique to Rand Paul. Everyone remembers Rand Paul’s filibuster but what no one talks about is who joined him.

Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The RNC has to start listening to the applause and the GOP has to start paying attention to the crowds. None of the issues Rand Paul is addressing are issues that buck conservative and constitutional philosophies. It’s because he is the only one addressing them that the crowds flock.

The GOP can get behind Paul’s mandatory minimum sentencing legislation. This is the single most important policy change in decades for minorities regarding Republicans and one that would open the floodgates for minority voters and especially minority young voters. Not Amnesty. Reaching out to black communities doesn’t mean just telling them to work hard. It means showing them that someone is looking out for them when they enter an economy and a system that they already feel is rigged against them. They have been betrayed by Barack Obama’s great promises. Paul’s mandatory minimum legislation will do more for black communities than any single policy of Barack Obama’s in six years. This is the kind of forward thinking young people want and that makes progressive network media nervous, because they know they can’t oppose it.

The same goes for legalization of marijuana. In the same CPAC straw poll that crowned Rand Paul the people’s choice, an overwhelming amount of CPAC’ers voted in favor of legalization. If Marco Rubio can get behind Public Enemy, he can get behind this or at least not oppose it in overwhelming fashion and leave it as an issue for the States.

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The entire party can pick up the issue of NSA domestic spying. The GOP, for all their posturing about the being the party of the Constitution, has remained largely silent on our privacy rights guaranteed under the 4th Amendment. There is a youth base out there that watches The Daily Show and Jimmy Fallon and reads Upworthy and Buzzfeed and also owns a cell phone that is being monitored by Barack Obama’s NSA. That’s right, Barack Obama’s NSA. Say it again and repeat it often.

It’s a slam dunk.

This issue is untouchable for the Democrat Party. To go against NSA spying would be rejecting Barack Obama. As of now they are not a party willing to do so. However, sometime in late 2015 or early 2016, when a 70-year-old Hillary Clinton is lagging behind with youth voters and college students, expect the loyalist media to?plant the idea of pardoning of hacker hero Edward Snowden in Obama’s head at the benefit of her. This is why jumping on this issue now and owning it is imperative.

The only potential candidate willing to explicitly address NSA domestic spying is Paul. Why are so many voices on the deep bench of Republican hopefuls quiet on this? Why can’t Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or a handful of Governors of independent states, articulate the illegalities of a massive dragnet of surveillance of Americans is unconstitutional? Rubio would certainly be better than Paul at doing so. The silence of the GOP on this equals compliance in the minds of young voters. That is why Rand Paul’s line at CPAC, ?You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans, I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty? resonated with so many in the audience and not boos. Revolution is more attractive to youth voters right now than Conservative rhetoric, because they have no idea what modern Conservatism actually ?is.

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When Rand Paul speaks of Madison and the Constitution, people can smell gunpowder. They hear taps. When Rand Paul speaks of rebellion, people believe it, because they watched it happen already. They watched a Senator from Kentucky stand up for 13 hours and recite our?inalienable rights?to a President who feels he can drone any human being he feels like off the face of the Earth – Even those born under the country that elected him.?It’s doubtful that anyone has stood up to Barack Obama for 13 hours on anything in his entire life.??Voters who at the time of Barack Obama’s emancipation were 12-14 years old are now blooming into the defiance stages of their lives.

To them Barack Obama has always been the authority and Rand Paul is the most prominent face standing up to him. Gestures like the grandstanding on the Senate floor or suing the office of President, as ?symbolic as they only may be, resonate. The idea of an electoral revolution is palpable and Paul knows it. He knows when to pick his battles and with whom. He’s the only voice putting Bill Clinton in his rightful place in the war on women, a war the Democrat party will magnify tenfold in the coming two years. He pegged Hillary Clinton on arms trafficking through a consulate in Benghazi, long before reports surfaced. Good political instincts don’t assure Paul the Republican nomination. It doesn’t even mean he’s going to run (he is) but at the very least he’s showing the GOP where the fight can and should be. The crowds cheer for Rand Paul because GOP leadership gives them nothing to cheer about.

The Democrat party finds themselves defending very unpopular ideas all of a sudden. Obamacare, the NSA and the IRS (something both Paul and Cruz are in favor of abolishing altogether). Big government imposing it’s executive will with a phone and pen on a people, born free and protected by a founding document. This will become painfully evident to them in 2014 and Rand Paul will be right there reciting The Federalist Papers. Progressive media might roll their eyes at recollections of revolution. The new millennials thus far, are not.

Between now and 2016 there is going to be a passionate fight for the soul of the GOP. It’s already started. This is a good thing. Voters watching the theater unfold before them don’t want the docile unity of complicit group-think. Not this time. They want a street fight and for the strongest person to come out of it. What currently sets Rand Paul apart from the other potentials, and the GOP at large, is that he is actively recruiting a youth army to stand with him.

And they are ready to march.

 

 

 

– SM –

 

Defiance and Defeat: What We Learned.

It took five years but the network media complex has finally found their new boogeyman. With assistance from Barack Obama Inc, they were able to marginalize Cruz (at least for now) the very same way they were able to Palin during the 2008 election and ever since. Radicalize him, belittle him and discredit him by marginalizing him (Saul Alinksy 101)?If ten people were stopped on the street, they would tell you they hate Ted Cruz but would not be able to say why. This is the same mission team Obama accomplished with the constant chipping away at Sarah Palin over two years.?With the help of a bully media, Palin became little more than a caricature of herself to the public eye but in doing so also became one of the most influential figures in the conservative movement.

The same will happen to Ted Cruz. There are both advantages and pitfalls to this.

Cruz_with_Palin_Barack Obama read the children’s story “Where the Wild Things Are” to a group of children which left puzzled photographs any other politician would be laughed at for. During his marathon 21 hour filibuster, Ted Cruz read Dr. Suess’ Green Eggs and Ham to his daughters who were watching on television. Both examples are poignant moments. Only one was ridiculed as a political sideshow. Ted Cruz should understand that against the media, for now, he is a man alone.

The problem for Democrats and liberal activists? Ted Cruz is going to be a Senator with influence for a very long time and therefore because he holds very real senatorial power, will not be someone the media can ignore. From the CR/Shutdown battle on, Cruz will get the focus and will become the defacto head of Tea Party Republicans. ?No one since Palin has evoked such a visceral reaction on the Left as Cruz, to the point of even creating a new birther movement in progressive media to discredit him. The first time the left tried this tactic, the person they used it against became the 44th President of the United States.

The current goal of Obama’s network media coming out of the CR/Shutdown fight is to radicalize and marginalize Ted Cruz as much as possible and as fast as possible. For this reason alone it’s imperative to stand with him, regardless of how conservatives feel about the Shutdown.

Media is terrified of Ted Cruz and not because he is going to destroy the country or is?committing economic treason.. It’s because he clearly articulates a message and by Washington standards is a very young guy. Cruz is now a member of the coming youth movement in conservative politics that already includes a very deep bench. ?Cruz would be wise to study the path of Sarah Palin, both the good and bad.

Palin today has become one of the best public trolls of network media in the country. She has embraced the characterization of her by the them and has used that effectively as firepower against them. Cruz, being an elected official does not have that kind of bombastic freedom but he is new breed of Conservative that understand the ideological war being waged by Barack Obama now and most certainly will be by Hillary Clinton. Cruz’ strength is he is going to have plenty of time to sharpen his knives long after John McCain has left the Senate.

It’s more painfully apparent even after 6 years – GOP leadership ignores who Barack Obama really is and even worse, who he would become after winning reelection. I don’t begrudge John Boehner for the position he finds himself in. But John Boehner is a cut from the cloth of a professional and polished politician. He comes from a world where people make deals with handshakes over a drink in a back room. The problem is the country is faced with a President who is constantly positioning himself as an outsider of Washington, not the guy in charge of it. Raising your voice above room level once a week in front of the press doesn’t cut it.

Politicians like John Boehner do not know how to stand toe to toe with a political opponent that doesn’t care about negotiation. What’s frustrating about this is John Boehner is not a stupid man. One would think that after being punked during the fiscal cliff, punked during the sequester and now thoroughly punked during the CR stand off, he would eventually learn that a President who orders his party to use the language of extremism is not a President acting in “Good Faith”. ?Its a fundamental flaw of the the older generation of all politicians. They aren’t involved in the debates happening on Twitter and social media and now in the streets. That’s where Obama machine was built. The McCain campaign didn’t understand it. The Romney campaign tried but failed to understand it.

This is not just the usual legislative bickering between political parties that holds us all over until election season. This is a bare knuckle street fight and the GOP still does not understand this. Right now GOP Leadership is the guy who keeps sticking his hand out for a shake and gets slugged between the eyes instead. This is ideological warfare, not politics and it’s exhausting trying to defend it.

If the GOP wants to figure out Barack Obama, they need to stop looking at his time as President or as Senator and start looking more into who he was as a community organizer and State Senator in Chicago. Obama doesn’t care about handshakes. He doesn’t care about word of honor. He is seeking the unconditional elimination of the political opponents that costed him the House in 2010. Any more assumptions of “Good faith” should have been thrown out the window long ago. If the GOP is going to play brinkmanship they must be willing to take the fight to places he won’t. They’ve had five years and two elections to do so and have failed.

The question must be asked from here on out then –  What are they prepared to do?

 

anarchists1As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama was all about healing and uniting. No Red States or Blue States. Today as President Obama uses the language reserved for terrorists to describe people who disagree with him. Bomb throwers, Hostage takers, Arsonists & Suicide bombers. These were all terms Obama’s White House used to describe Republicans, even as Obama’s twitter account, run by OFA changed the avatar to represent something far more anarchistic in nature. He will not negotiate, he will not compromise and anyone who tries will be dealt with brutally. The gloves are off.

Get used to it.

Barack Obama is governing from a position of mandate, now strengthened by a perceived fractured GOP. His attitude is simple. I won the 2012 election. The 2012 election was a referendum on me and my policies. He knows there won’t be another election and he’s not a President running for legacy. His legacy is secure with his heritage and a phalanx of media guards. He – Does – Not – Care. It’s why he was able to say he would not negotiate on a Congressional CR and call political opponents arsonists and anarchists. He wasn’t going to lose the PR battle in the media. NY Times, Washington Post, NBC/CBC/ABC all carried the exact narrative he wanted and they will continue to do so until he leaves office.

Get used to this incarnation of Barack Obama.

ETNObama Pretend for a moment, that the GOP controlled both the Senate and the House during this CR/Shutdown. Can anyone envision Barack Obama acting or doing anything differently? That’s why even with a GOP controlled Senate in 2014 these fights will continue. The country is faced with a President who believes he has nothing to lose and is insulated by a media bent on protecting their reputations as well as his. The best path forward is to expose Obama for who he really is. During the shutdown we saw a petty, uncivil tyrant who told the people in his cabinet to “Make it hurt”

Obama presides by fear and implements his policies through causing pain. ?Want people driving more fuel efficient vehicles? ?Don’t rely on market economics. Hit people in their wallets. Choke them off oil with $8.00 gasoline. Want healthcare? Nationalize 17% of the US economy, forcing people off healthcare plans with the eventuality that they will settle for single payer in the future. Gun Control? Flood Mexican cartels bent on lawlessness to increase the amount of violence. Shutdown his government? Barricade memorials, private monuments and kick people out of their homes. ?It’s presiding by breaking the opponents arms, then telling them they are glad they finally see things his way. The Mafia operates the exact same way.

This President was elected on the premise of public outrage and the only way he will be contained is when his own tactics backfire.

 

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From a tweet from Ace of Spades blogger John Ekdahl,as Veterans ignored White House OMB barricades to enter a memorial they bled for, it was the simplest and most elegant explanation for an inspiring single act of insurrection.

When the Missouri Honor Flight veterans pushed through unnecessary, theatrical barricades it was a direct assault against Barack Obama and the media narrative. The Obama Administration decided to spend money during a government shutdown to barricade American war heroes out of an open air memorial. The administration’s weak denial was later followed by not even trying to deny these orders came directly from the White House Office of Budget and Management. They owned this and the Missouri Honor Flight weren’t having any of it. Obama’s network of journalists openly mocked and snarked but eventually were put down.

These guys are untouchable.

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They openly defied the same Presidential authority that they loyally followed 69 years ago and it will be one of the last memories of their lives. It took a group of guys in their seventies and eighties to make the rest of us realize that punk is not dead, and it most certainly does not belong to the progressive left who controls the media and a government majority. The right can learn from this. Everyone. People who agree or disagree with Ted Cruz or John Boehner.

Defiance against unnecessary tyranny is a good thing. Defiance against an unnecessary healthcare law that will wreck havoc on peoples lives is a good thing. But that defiance won’t be successful because a Senator filibusters and participates in a shutdown of the government and wins or loses a PR battle.

It will be successful when it comes from the people, as the guys who stormed Normandy and barricades rightly showed.

– SM –