Marketing 101: Selling America Its Downfall


My son came by the other day – he’d been to one of his MBA Marketing lectures. “What’s another name for marketing?” he demanded, as he dug in the fridge for food and beer. “Bullshit! Marketing is a synonym for bullshit!”

If that is the case, America loves bullshit. You can sell us anything, so long as you do it with pizzazz, color, chutzpah, and a hefty marketing budget behind your endeavors.

What scares me is that you can sell us things that are in our own worst interests, and we’ll follow you to our doom like sheep to the slaughter, with a smile on our lips and rainbows spiraling in our eyes. Follow the man with the big bass drum and the Holy Glory Band…

Get-rich-quick schemes and snake oil, casinos and fast food, human growth hormone and pyramid company shares. Bring ’em on, we’re buying. Put a jingle and a logo and we don’t care what the statistics tell us, what the stock market says, or what the studies show. We’re lining up to be suckered and screwed. When we’re broke, with diabetes and heart problems, we’ll still admire the fast-talking bastards who took us for the ride, which felt so smooth… at the time.

You can even sell us the idea that the Bush Administration is looking out for the little guy, and that its policies are good for the average American.

I never cease to admire the way this one is done. I actually know people who believe that if you are a committed Christian, this means that you should be a Republican. Don’t laugh. I’m serious. They honestly believe that Democrats dislike God and Republicans love Him/Her.

From my independent position of hating all politicians, irrespective of affiliation, I can only stare. Oh Karl, Karl, what a marvel you are! The greatest marketing triumph in the history of America, and you did it.

But I can still find it in my cynical heart to feel sorry for the millions of good people who are on the wrong side of the poverty equation, who suffer when education, health, and social service funding suffers, and who hurt as the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider. And then they go and vote for the guys who are sticking it to them, merely because they were the target of a fantastically successful marketing strategy.

Karl has always sailed close to the wind is his strategies. Fake ID to get into Democrat Alan Dixon’s offices, steal his letterheads, and forge campaign rally fliers, promising “free food, free beer, girls, and a good time.” (Imagine his pink, baby face shining as he distributed the fliers at rock concerts and homeless shelters.) He smeared Nixon’s opponent, World War 2 hero George McGovern, as a left-wing peacenik. He dodged the draft to Vietnam, and was investigated by the FBI for his seminars to Republicans on how to root through Democrats garbage and use other forms of political espionage. The Valerie Plame affair was just one of the many cases when Karl nearly got caught, but slipped out of the net as usual.

Does it matter whether you are morally bankrupt yourself when you can convince a nation that voting for the specific political agenda of the privileged few is the same as loving your God?

Does it matter if you despise fat-soaked, nutritionally empty fast food, as long as you can sell tons of the stuff?

Does it matter whether you believe that gambling will make you rich, or smoking makes you sophisticated, as long as you can promote a chain of casinos, or boost sales of a brand of cigarettes?

Not in America.

Here is it called Marketing and we worship it more loyally than the God whom Karl Rove can persuade us is a card-carrying Republican.

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