Showdown in Massachusetts – Winning the Hearts of Voters


Regarding the special election in Massachusetts, Martha Coakley vs. Scott Brown, pundits can choose to disagree in their analysis. But my sense is much of the analysis following the election appears erroneous.

Not to oversimplify the Massachusetts election, yes, voters were unconvinced about Ms. Coakley. Because of her ties with the top Democrats, voters were just as frustrated with the White House and Congress over the top 10 issues:

  1. Their ineptness in the sluggish economy and weak policies about job creation
  2. Failure to use a bully pulpit to get banks to lend to business and homeowners
  3. Wall Street bailouts
  4. Inability to regulate Wall Street with qualified, objective professionals and to end the dubious financial schemes and vehicles
  5. Disingenuous schemes to promote unwanted healthcare changes
  6. Deficit spending
  7. Weariness about big-brother government interfering with their businesses and lives
  8. Government’s preoccupation with pie-in-the-sky fantasies about solving unemployment with green initiatives for the short term
  9. Refusal to utilize the abundant but untapped offshore oil opportunities, which will result in higher tax revenue and create jobs
  10. Failure to develop an effective policy for China and its undervaluing of its currency, which subsidizes its exports to the U.S.

Healthcare reform?

Because of the unfortunate preoccupation with healthcare over economic issues, let’s consider the healthcare debate as one of the salient issues. Opponents to the healthcare proposals condemned the proponents’ healthcare proposals because they view it as a healthcare effort. They do not view it as healthcare reform and do not see any financial benefit.

Yes, polls show most Americans are opposed to the Senate and House bills. They are alarmed at the aggregate cost, and they are alarmed at the methods used to pass the bills.  For them, many aspects of these bills are unhealthy.

The bottom-line for voters: Arrogance of public officials and their denial of economic and political liberties to voters are the core issues.

Most voters are appalled by the arrogance of the healthcare proponents. The voters believe the priority should be listening to the American public and solving the economic issues.

Hopefully, the White House will learn what the Clinton Administration folks learned the hard way. It was David Gergen who saved the Clinton Administration when it was mired in chaos in 1993 following its failed healthcare initiative and stagnation from organizational failures. And America did not want a co-president. Mr. Gergen knew the Clinton White House needed to reboot to get on track – to deal with the preferred business of the voters.

That’s what the Obama White House needs to do. Stop the arrogance. Act on the changes desired by most Americans.

The words of business philosopher Dr. Peter Drucker are applicable: “Arrogance is being proud of ignorance.”

A strong political campaign is almost synonymous with effective business marketing. For a candidate to win an election in this economic environment, it’s important to use classic business principles.

Therefore, six elements are required for success –

  1. Effectively listen – leave the ego behind.
  2. Convey a heavy dose of empathy for voters with an attitude of gratitude like a true public servant. Approach the campaign like a hungry job applicant.
  3. Take the high road at every turn like a successful diplomat and partner with the right centers of influence.
  4. Conduct a campaign analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  5. Develop a strategic action plan.
  6. Execute the strategies in Blue Angels-like precision.

If these lessons are learned, America will get on track. Otherwise, voters will continue their disgust over the arrogance, and stolen economic and political liberties.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s more on my views regarding healthcare: Oxymorons: ‘Healthcare Reform’ and ‘Public Servants’

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.