The WashingtonPost.com has a great online quiz that you can take to help determine which presidential candidate best shares your beliefs on various issues. Kind of like an eHarmony compatibility test – see if your best match is Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc. The beauty of the quiz is that you can take it without knowing which candidate you are agreeing/disagreeing with on a particular issue/question. This really forces you to let go of your personal bias and truly make decisions based on what a candidate says, not who or how they say it.
As you take the quiz, the most interesting aspect is the fact that all of the candidates’ answers are 99% the same. As you watch the debates, you really get the impression that the candidates differ on most topics. However, when you read their actual answers in transcript form – they are EXACTLY the same.
This supports one of my “Theories of Life”. I believe that you can take any situation in life and find an episode of “Seinfeld” or “The Simpsons” that deals with the same situation.
“The Simpsons” covered this topic in 1996 with the “TreeHouse of Horrors VII” Halloween episode. Two aliens (Kang & Kodos) kidnap Clinton and Dole before the presidential election and take their place (disguised as the candidates). They look exactly like the candidates; however, they still have their “normal” loud, monotone alien voices. The aliens answer every question the same in the debates. There is a great line by Kang (who resembles Clinton) as he tells the crowd in an election debate “We must move forward… not backwards, not to the side, not forwards, but always whirling, whirling, whirling towards freedom.”
Another great dialogue takes place between Kodos (Dole) and a TV reporter:
Kent Brockman: Senator Dole, why should people vote for you instead of President Clinton?
Kang: It makes no difference which one of us you vote for. Either way, your planet is doomed. DOOMED!
Kent Brockman: Well, a refreshingly frank response there from senator Bob Dole.
I’m a little more optimistic about our future, but it does make you realize one thing about politicians and politics, like most things in life, it all comes down to marketing. I’m not just saying this because I’m a marketing executive (although there is some job protection there). When you buy a $100 pair of Nike shoes, about $60 of the cost of that shoe is covering the marketing cost (TV ads, print, endorsement deals, etc.). Why do candidates need to spend so much money campaigning? Because they are basically similar products and are trying to differentiate themselves with consumers (voters) through marketing. That’s why Obama is doing so well thus far in the primaries. He has created a “brand” around his image/persona that sets him apart from the other Democratic candidates – even if their views aren’t that different.
Take the quiz. You might be surprised.