I am so sick of this political season, I can barely stand it. The negative, false ads with misleading and inaccurate claims (offered by everyone, no one is above the fray). The endless overanalysis of nothing and talking head “pundits” giving their opinions and spin on everything; just sick and tired of it.
At this point, I’m more than happy to sit quietly with my favorite television shows on pause for 10 minutes while we build up credit on the DVR and can fast forward past the commercials.
A week or so ago, I realized that the 20thanniversary of my first trip to Russia was coming up soon and decided to put together an ebook of my blog posts and notes from my travels there (I hope to have it ready by the middle of December). It’s been interesting to review the articles and a book manuscript I wrote in 1995 to see what was going on and what I was discovering.
At the time, Russia was still reeling from the breakup of the Soviet Union. They were holding their first elections that didn’t have a predetermined outcome. The following is an excerpt of what I wrote in 1995/1996.
Alexei Cheremnykh…said he thinks Russian voter apathy is rooted in expectations.
“Americans have always been told they can influence their government by voting. Most Russians are disconnected from their government,” he said. “They don’t think they can change anything by voting so why bother.”
A teacher…Alla Feldman, tried to explain some of the apathy by drawing another comparison to the United States.
“Many times in America, the better educated the voter, the more likely they are to vote,” Feldman said. “In Russia, it is just the opposite. The intelligentsia votes less in elections because they feel they can accomplish less.”
It will take a long time for the inertia of Russian history to be overcome. Only now, in this fledgling democracy, can voters do anything about their government. Most of the voters don’t realize their opportunity and therefore are not using it. The biggest problem with that is if they don’t use their influence, they truly may lose it.
Unfortunately, voters in the United States sound a lot like voters in Russia 20 years ago.
This morning, I scanned through a daily email I get from author Seth Godinon topics like marketing, selling, quitting and leadership. He had some really interesting things to say about voting.
“If you don’t vote because you’re disappointed with your choices, disgusted by tactics like lying and spin, or merely turned off by the process, you’ve opted out of the marketplace.
The goal of political marketers isn’t to get you to vote. Their goal is to get more votes than the other guy. So they obsess about pleasing those that vote. Everyone else is invisible.
Steakhouses do nothing to please vegetarians who don’t visit them, and politicians and their handlers don’t care at all about non-voters.”
His suggestion? “If you don’t like negative ads, for example, then vote for the candidate who ran even 1% fewer negative ads. Magically, within a cycle or two, the number of negative ads begins to go down. If enough smart people start voting again, things will improve, because billions of dollars in political marketing will suddenly be trying to please you.”