Market Policies, Not Marketing
May I offer two suggestions for GOP gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille without setting off counterattacks and inspiring retrenchment? For good reason, he gives the impression of a marketing guy, and he’s really got to break down the policies and principles that he expresses in direct, active sentences and then layer in the marketing. So, thought #1 is that what he intends to do should always emphasize his insight and power, not his powerlessness; I wrote “ugh” in the margins of the newspaper when I read this:
For starters, he told a news conference the first thing he intends to do is to write Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse a letter this week that says “stop this foolish Stimulus II bill [moving through Congress] that is sending $373 million to the State of Rhode Island, almost $200 million of which is to build more sidewalks.”
This puts the governor in a subservient role to the legislators. Citizens write to their senators; governors shouldn’t have to. If the policy is to redirect stimulus money, the prospective governor should declare his intention to push resolutions through the General Assembly expressing Rhode Island’s desired change; he should go directly to the president and insist that the state should have more of a say in how it uses money allocated for it.
I wrote “ugh x 2” when I read this part:
“The next thing we have to do is build consumer confidence. We have to stop talking down the economy. We have to start giving people hope. This is the state of hope,” he said. At least, “I think it’s still hopeful … [but] people are afraid. People are trying to save more money … and when people feel comfortable enough that that they’ve got some money to spend, they start spending it.”
“I think everybody right now, tonight, should go out and take their husband or their wife to dinner and put twenty bucks, forty bucks, fifty bucks into that small restaurant that’s struggling right now. That’s how it is going to work,” he said.
The first problem is that the expressed idea is essentially a marketing campaign, and Rhode Islanders are finally waking up to the fact that their problem is far deeper than perception. We’re past the point of recoiling for the nation’s bad image of us and are admitting that there’s a reason for it. The governor that our state needs, right now, will be able to identify and attack the problem that blackens our view of our economy.
Robitaille’s misdirection, here, continues with the notion that people should go out and blow money on dinner. People like to go out to dinner. If they felt comfortable spending the money, they’d be doing it without urging from a guy who wants to be the state’s chief executive. But they don’t feel comfortable spending on such things, right now, and not only does it send the wrong signal to ask consumers to save our crooked state, but it suggests that Robitaille doesn’t understand the crux of what he’s asking. Namely, our government is in its current condition because elected officials have spent too much money, with good intentions and bad. Encouraging residents to do the same gives the impression of the victim of some horrid disease insisting that a kiss on the lips by a healthy neighbor can save him.