Red, White and Blue
I’ll never forget one night back in 2008, when the presidential campaigns were in full swing. I went to visit a friend I had worked with on crisis communications for MasterCard Worldwide and her Wall Street husband, and a presidential debate was on TV in their in their Manhattan hotel room.
I looked over at the screen and it suddenly all seemed so absurd, like I was watching a movie rather than current events. “What are they really debating?” I thought.
I remember blurting out, before I carefully considered my current company or what political views they might hold, “Doesn’t this seem silly to you when both parties are really in the pocket of the same puppet masters? It’s like cheering for one sports team over another team when both teams are owned by the same owner.”
Oops, I thought.
But then something astonishing happened: They both agreed with me, without batting an eye or skipping a beat, as if it was a well-known fact they had come to terms with long ago.
Over the next few years, the revelation I had that night that, (which was apparently only news to me, it seemed) became something I explored quietly. Sometimes I would mention it aloud and, each time I did, my present company would always agree with me, as though we had all known this truth for some time. It didn’t matter which “side of the aisle” the person was on, either—left, right or center—everyone agreed.
Then Occupy Wall Street happened and the issue of the 1% came more to the forefront while The Tea Party fought a similar battle, as if both were two sides of the same coin. It was fascinating.
If we all knew this was true, that the power of our country was in the hands of a greedy and corrupt few, why were we picking sides again? Why were we acting out a version of the Jane Elliot Blue Eyes vs. Brown Eyes exercise when we know, deep down, that brown-eyed or blue-eyed people aren’t lesser?
From what I gathered at that time, everyone suspected our elected officials would not really listen to us given that we do not actually get them re-elected—the big money backing them does, whether it’s given over or under the table. We all seemed to believe the media was feeding us whatever propaganda its big-money owners were pushing, too, and took whatever we saw with a grain of salt. None of us really trusted the war-mongering government or its increasingly dubious surveillance of citizens—especially not after Edward Snowden pulled back the curtain on domestic spying.
Could it be that we were one step away from uniting so that together we could pull the 1% off their seemingly unreachable thrones?
Then something weird happened, just when I thought we might all come together and see that we wanted more of the same things than not: The last election (among other things, of course).
Suddenly, this shared concern and understanding we had that the government, nation (and possibly world) was basically monopolized and run by the 1% was turned into a war of semantics: Globalism Vs. Nationalism. (It’s almost as if the owners who own both teams saw we were about to call their bluff and made up new teams with new rules...)
The team brands were developed to perfection, the positioning was flawless and the strategic messaging was airtight:
Team Globalists would be non-bigoted intellectuals who believed in unity and that all nations should work together for peace and prosperity.
The target audiences were: democrats, intellectuals, academics, liberals, former Occupy Wall Streeters, and so on.
Team Nationalists would be hatemongering bigots who despised anyone or nation different than them because they refused to see that solidifying a global economy and fierce interconnectedness was clearly wise and presented no real concerns regarding worldwide monopolies, surveillance or censorship (this is the talk of conspiracy nuts and crazy people)
The target audiences were: nobody (but anyone stupid, close-minded, or insane enough to not support global unity and prosperity, regardless of their worthless concerns or reasons)
Of course, no one would want to be on Team Nationalists, since they clearly suck and are morally inferior scum more Hitler than human, but they would get thrown into that Nazi-worthy bucket if they disagreed with any aspects of globalism nonetheless.
Let's take a quick pause here to recognize that, if you were writing a screenplay or novel, you’d have the perfect hero and villain on a mass scale. It’s simply brilliant (and truly diabolical). If this were the hot new Netflix series, “Glow,” you’d have your perfect All-American vs. Heartless Soviet dueling female wrestlers to titillate audiences with and win over their emotional engagement.
But, wait... There’s more! Next, to raise the stakes and heighten the drama even further, let's get the writers to throw in some Russia plot twist attached to Team Nationalists (we don't care what it is, just make it believable) and, voila! It’s a Hollywood blockbuster ready for a real life production. Just call in the A-listers to be the key heroes and villains, thicken the interweaving Russia storylines, call the director, and get the publicists ready to brew up some personal dramas. It’s show time!
So here we are. And it’s almost the Fourth of July. And any patriots must be from Team Nationalists because being proud to be American right now is for…you guessed it: Anyone stupid or crazy enough to not support global unity and prosperity, regardless of their concerns or reasons. (Those morally inferior scum more Hitler than human.)
Today many of us cannot feel patriotic because of this vitriolic poison injected into us through a blinding, hypnotic narrative fed mercilessly, masterfully and ceaselessly to the masses through all forms of media.
This might all be funny if it were not so true. It might be an entertaining sports game or Hollywood thriller if it were not actually ripping us apart at the seams as a nation, as a people, as families, and as friends. But it is. And my heart is so heavy tonight because the brands, storylines and scripts were so masterfully crafted that many of cannot find it in us to even celebrate our freedom or our unity on this Independence Day. We still have it, my fellow Americans, although we may not for much longer if we do not embrace it—and each other.
But I will not let this despair or sense of struggle endure, and I will celebrate this coming Independence Day on July 4 with all of you who will have me.
Let freedom ring, beloved!
I do not see any of you as a brand or an idea. I do not see any of you as being on one team or the other. And I will not cheer for or curse either team. I see only Red, a world about to dawn. White, the light of ages next. And Blue, the night that ends at last.