Policy vs PR in Modern Politics
Source: WikiMedia Commons
The biggest fallacy of modern day politics is that political movements, bureaus, and organisations are in the business of policy or even politics in general. They are in the business of PR; Public Relations. They care little about the actual effects of their mandates when the ability to sell said mandate is so high. Now, as we know, governments are never efficient at anything. Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman put it best: “If you put a federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years, there would be a shortage of sand”.
This is so aptly demonstrated in the fact that, despite politicians being in the business of PR, their relation to the public has seldom been worse. Take, for example, the European Union. This is a bureau that quite clearly stands on a platform of European protectionism – and has done since its inception.
Indeed, this was always its main purpose and yet, the perception to the public and the platform on which many stood to defend the EU during the much publicised 2016 Referendum was that of perceived globalism. One of the leading arguments for Remain campaigners was that ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ – implying that the EU was a means through which to trade with the rest of the world.
This was a popular misconception that led to positive PR for the cause advocated by the Remain campaigners – not to mention the EU itself. Now, regardless of which side of the issue you fall, it is clear that these politicians cared more for the effect on PR than on the truth. This can also be said for the reverse; where political parties use a sort of PR straw man in order to deflect from a more potentially damaging issue.
Take the Conservative Party in May of 2017. Theresa May’s off-hand remark about supporting fox-hunting acted as such a low hanging fruit which the media couldn’t help but pick-up and run with, that it completely distracted the public away from the findings of Election fraud in the same week. A diabolical misdirection that would truly make the Trump administration proud.
See, what is seemingly the most important thing that affects the public’s perception is not the real-world effect of policy, but by the supposed altruism of its advocates. In short, people are desperate to believe that their political representatives are just in their intentions, rather than producing effective results if they don’t produce the same thrill of an action with good intention. It can be likened to the old adage of the Dentist and the Confectioner: you dislike going to the dentist because the sensation is unpleasant although for positive effects. Whereas you enjoy going to the confectioner because the sensation is pleasant although for an overall negative effect.
In the age of mass media, the public’s immediate satisfaction has become society’s biggest market factor. Take, for example, Netflix, Amazon, and the like that have completely revolutionised the entertainment industry; and the likes of UPS, TNT, and Amazon (again) revolutionising the distribution and courier services; take Uber for taxi services; AirBnB for hotels: the list goes on. This need for immediate satisfaction has become a marketable commodity among today’s consumers. And politicians have noticed.
The reason that the most recent election garnered such a shocking result is because one side clearly began to market themselves towards what I have dubbed the ‘Now’ generation – not in some kind of post-modern artistic sense; because they want things ‘Now’. Be that TV programmes, parcels, or even the gratification of having single-handedly saved civilisation via a tactically placed ‘x’ on a ballot paper.
The reason why Labour succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of so many under 30s at this past election is because they gave the promise of gratification, the revelry, the titillation of being for a just cause. “The Labour Manifesto is fully costed” I would often hear from voters so blissfully unaware that ‘fully costed’ is politician speak for borrowing an extra £500 billion. Facts, seemingly, are irrelevant to the political consumer – or ‘voter’. What matters is the media spin, and how far politicians like Jeremy Corbyn can give his voters a sense of empowerment – neatly wrapping his policies in a nice little bow so that it can be sold to the consumer for the immediate feel-good kick.
This is all typified by Mr Corbyn’s recent appearance at Glastonbury festival – an event at which middle-class young people pay extortionate amounts to mutually masticate over the supposed splendour of artists whom produce music so bland as to be echoing throughout every major retailer one week – and in the bargain bins at the same retailers the next. Not once was there a talk of policy, effects, or real-world change – and none even about politics. Only pre-prepared, pandering nonsense designed to boost his PR, and hopefully round-up some repeat customers. In modern politics and all along the political spectrum, it seems that politicians are the new ‘Ad men’ – and we really ought to start paying attention to the fine print.
By Aaron Dellapina
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