Tags: Donald Trump | Hillary Clinton | Presidential History | humphrey | kennedy | reagan | roosevelt

Baby Boomers Kinship With Politics Runs Deep

Baby Boomers Kinship With Politics Runs Deep
President John Kennedy on Sept. 8, 1961, at the White House, with Sen. Hubert Humphrey. (William J. Smith/AP)

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Thursday, 01 March 2018 01:01 PM Current | Bio | Archive

On a cold Madison Wisconsin morning in 1976, a student at the University of Wisconsin was working on his thesis. The paper was all about the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign. This baby boomer now looks back at his thesis work reviewing what took place during the 2016 race for the presidency. He wonders what has changed in communicating and in political discourse.

Those born between 1946 and 1964 have seen candidates come and go, but the practice of running for office is still very basic. Sure, we live in a technology-driven world, one in which everything seems so fast — as if politics itself is trying to catch up with the speed of light. But having said that, the basics are still the same.

The UW alumni baby boomer can still vividly remember how his favorite communications professor, Dr. Winston Brembeck, would always stress that a presidential candidate needed to campaign with the idea that it is important for the voter to actually like and respect the candidate.

Of course two of the presidential candidates who did this best were John. F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. They could light up a room.

Hubert Humphrey had the likeability factor. In fact, he deliberately practiced it.

For example, prior to a meeting, he would have his aides write down on an index card three things about the person with whom he was about to meet. The goal was helping Humphrey connect with that individual.

Hubert Humphrey would get high marks for his interpersonal skills. But unfortunately for Senator Humphrey, his timing for a presidential run was bad.

One is then led to conclude that timing is another critical factor to consider in presidential campaigns. Campaigns have a much better chance of success if the candidate’s politics, message, and circumstances are well suited for the times.

One of the best political contenders to take the mantle of the times, of course, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While FDR may be better remembered for his fireside chats, during the 1932 presidential campaign, and during his presidency, it was the confidence FDR stressed and exuded, that as a nation we would be okay. This firmly established the foundations for his legend.

Another factor that can influence the success of a campaign may perhaps be best described by a term that was popularized when Edmund Muskie ran for office, "presidential timber."

Some candidates have it, and some don't. Ed Muskie failed to win for a different reason, but he did have presidential timber.

The current polarized political climate makes it hard to cast a storyline for the 2016 campaign. It was certainly memorable. Donald J. Trump reached out to the forgotten voter, that is, the working class voter who used to reliably vote for Democrats.

Trump campaigned hard, holding rallies at all hours. By contrast, Hilary Clinton relied heavily on technical data, voter identification, and on a coalition made up of a portion of her voter type and partly made up of those who voted for Democrat Barack Obama.

The results tell the rest of the story. President Donald J.Trump is in office. History will record that the winning branding, marketing, and messaging fell into the column of candidate Donald J. Trump, who we now call President Trump.

It's reported that political interest is very high in America today. Some say that people are watching cable news the way they once watched sporting events. Maybe sports and politics now overlap. Whereas people once went to a movie to escape, we are now faced with our movie actors commenting on the latest political topics.

As baby boomers, we recall the political climate back in 1968, when the country was engaged like never before in the controversy over the Vietnam War. If you were living in Chicago in 1968, the Democratic National Convention is still ingrained in your senses. You see, as boomers, we have a rich history with presidential politics.

We love this rich history we experienced; we remember the campaigns of our youth and we still like to follow the next campaigns as they emerge.

Believe it or not, it will soon be time for the 2020 presidential campaign.

What new developments will that bring?

Rick Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns "Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation." He is the author of "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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As baby boomers, we have a rich history with presidential politics. We love this rich history we experienced; we remember the campaigns of our youth and we still like to follow the next campaigns as they emerge.
humphrey, kennedy, reagan, roosevelt
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2018-01-01
Thursday, 01 March 2018 01:01 PM
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