Friday, October 15, 2010

Political shopping...

We ask a lot of politicians nowadays. Not so much in a literal sense (many serve term after term without delivering on a single issue they promised to address), but in a theoretical sense.

We want politicians to protect us from crime or terrorism, we expect them to help us keep more of our money. We want them to make our hometowns nicer by helping to bring us nice things like roads, bridges, parks and public service facilities. We want them to make our lives easier by helping us when we ask or getting rid of bureaucratic obstacles. All in all, even though we know we will routinely get disappointed, this is how we think.

Recently, there was a nicely written column from The Weekly Observer posted over on SCNow by John Sweeney, titled: Think for yourself this November. The basic premise is obvious from the title. As Sweeney wrote:

As we draw nearer to this year’s elections, we are all bound to bear witness to
the same bumblings from local representatives of various political parties. Of
these, a popular question that has surfaced goes a little something like this:

“How can you say you’re a Democrat/Republican yet vote for the opposing

It’s very simple, really. I use my finger to push a button next
to a man or woman’s name that belongs to a political party of which I am not a
member. Most of the time I do this because I have researched the candidates and
looked at them as individuals, rather than to see whether a Donkey or an
Elephant appears on their little yard signs.

We enjoyed the piece and thought it was sound advice. Really, when you think about it, strict adherence to simple labeling is pretty foolish and close-minded. Where else in life, would you consider someone who restricted themselves to a "brand" normal?

Take for instance another thing we ask a lot of: clothing. We want clothing to protect us from the elements. We want it to help us get certain jobs to make more money. We want it to make our lives easier. We want it make us look nice.

Now think about your closet. Does it look more like the picture on the left or the one on the right?

It's probably safe to say that most of our closets more closely resemble the picture on the left. If not, then congratulations on your OCD and life as an international hitman. But for the rest of us, there is not one brand or type of clothing that we always wear.

We all have our favorite brands or types of clothes. But it would be weird and impractical for us to wear the same thing all the time. How much of an oddball would you be if all you ever wore was Nautica clothing? You'd pretty much look like some weird doofus with probable emotional/psychological problems. People would laugh and joke at your expense and you'd become known as a freak. "Hey...looks it's Nautica Boy. Where's the catamaran, skipper?" Or "Morning, christening daddy's yacht later today."

Better yet, how crazy would you think that person was if they came up to you and said, " said you were Nautica too. Why are you wearing Carhart? Go home and change right now." Would you go home and change? Or would you tell that jackass to screw off?

Now, some of you are gonna say, come on, 'Pine. Politics and clothing aren't the same. Well...maybe. But the point is valid. Strict adherence to a brand name is simply stupid. A lot of people like Honda automobiles. But they like Hondas because they associate that brand name with affordability, reliability and durability. Some folks used to say the same about Toyota. Remember the old commercials? The jingle "Ohhhhh, what a feeling...Toyota" playing right after some working stiff stood in front of his beat-up Toyota pick-up letting us know he had 200,000 miles on it and it was still running. Flash forward to now, where the Toyota brand has taken a beating thanks to the accelerator issues and several other recalls. Allegiance to the brand started to falter. Why? Because people began associating other things with the brand. If Toyota wasn't going to be making safe and reliable cars, people weren't going to keep buying Toyotas.

Just because someone is willing to slap a brand beside their name on the ballot doesn't mean they are the right candidate for you. Don't be Nautica Boy or BCBGMAXAZRIA Girl.

So come November 2, when you walk in that booth, make sure you're doing what Minnie Driver is doing in the pic at the top. Really get down and check out those candidates. Don't pay so much attention to the brand name, look at the blend, the feel and the cut. Then make your decision.

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