US Politics: Would You Rather Fight than Switch?

Dear UCubed Leaders, Activists and Fans:

The American Tobacco Company once bombarded us with the slogan “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch.” For a dozen years, their ad campaign – and its string of everyday Americans sporting fake black eyes – built brand loyalty.  Tareyton packs flew off the shelves.

Unfortunately, the brand itself went up in a puff of smoke when the company switched to a longer, filtered version called Tareyton Light. With models sporting fake white eyes and mouthing “we’d rather light than fight,” their five-year advertising campaign failed, dismally.

That “rather light than fight” ad campaign offers an object lesson to all those strategists who would reposition the White House, the Democratic Party and the American Labor Movement.  All three are undergoing an internal re-branding process that could dramatically impact the lives of 28 million jobless Americans.

Jobless Americans and their nuclear families are at a tipping point politically. But so, too, are the blue collar Democrats who are still employed.

Nine out of ten jobless Americans surveyed by UCubed believe that neither major political party has strongly represented the interests of working people.  By a similar ratio, the jobless feel that the Democratic Party doesn’t represent working people as strongly as they used to. And, given a choice between re-electing Barack Obama and an unnamed Republican nominee, over 45 percent would vote for a third party or not vote at all!

Among Machinists Union members surveyed earlier this year, their level of disillusionment with both parties, and particularly the Democratic Party, was a mere four points lower than the jobless.  Their support for an Obama endorsement was lukewarm to put it mildly. 

The only daylight between the jobless and those blue-collar workers was their perception of the job President Barack Obama was doing to get people back to work. The jobless, not surprisingly, gave him an approval rating of 6.9 percent. The Machinists were slightly more generous. Their approval rating was 15.1 percent.

Both those numbers – 6.9 percent and 15.1 percent – are abysmal approval ratings for a Democratic President, and particularly so, given his party’s historic alignment with the jobless and organized labor. They should drive some new thinking at the various repositioning projects underway.

Think about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corp and Wagner Act. Think about Harry Truman and his veto of Taft-Hartley. Think about John F. Kenney and NASA or his investment tax credits for manufacturing equipment. Think about Lyndon Baines Johnson and Medicare, Civil Rights, Jobs Corps and Economic Opportunity. Think about Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and his full employment legislation.

Then those strategists should think about whether they want to “fight rather than switch” or “light rather than fight.” The choice they make will dictate whether the Democratic brand goes up in a puff of smoke… or totally smokes the opposition.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick Sloan
Executive Director
Ur Union of Unemployed

P.S. UCubed now has 836 cubes, 4,111 activists and 9,958 Facebook fans!

We welcome and appreciate the forwarding of this post.

Union of Unemployed
9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro Maryland 20772
© Ur Union of Unemployed 2010


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