Watching this Democratic Party Primary season, I am reminded of an old TEDTalk by Malcolm Gladwell, one that was a promo for his book Blink. The talk was called Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce. It clocks in at 17.5 minutes, but if you have the time, it’s worth it. In it, Gladwell tells the story of Howard Moskowitz, a psychophysicist who in the 1970s and 80s helped firms reinvent their advertising based on measured data.
It’s because of Moskowitz that you have a billion styles of pasta sauce to choose from, and half billion Pepsi Colas. As Gladwell says a couple of times in the talk, Moskowitz claim to fame was saying, “You had been looking for the perfect Pepsi. You’re wrong. You should be looking for the perfect Pepsis.” Through his Pepsi research and his Prego-vs-Ragu studies, Moskowitz determined that a business could capture a given market with variety.
This is clearly becoming the Democrats strategy this primary season. They have a weak candidate, and they know this. Hillary Clinton is what she is, but what she ain’t is someone the party can unify under. Her team knows this. Plan A is to get her least likely supporters–that’d be young people–on board with a faux-Bernie campaign. I’ve covered this before. Plan B is where it gets very, very interesting.
Plan B is a cafeteria-style smorgasbord of issues. So the main dish is unappealing? No worries, just choose your issue! If you’re a little more discerning than your average Bernie fan, that’s okay! Hillary has got you covered with Black Lives Matter. If you can’t be appealed to with the fragile lives of young black men, no worries! You’re covered! Hillary’s gonna appeal to you with income inequality! Don’t see anything you really want here? Look a little harder, chica! Your uterus is on the table! But maybe you’d just prefer someone with fewer ties to the national security apparatus? Look on the horizon! It’s coming!
There will be more, of course. More causes to appeal to and more plans to layer on the strategy to game the electorate. And you know what? Said electorate has it coming, IF it’s coming. They’ve allowed themselves to be data-mined and all their habits and inclinations are now sliced and diced, laid out on a big buffet table in neat, powdery lines, just ready to be snorted up by the junkies who rule us.
This is an open thread.