Common Ground

I shouldn’t be blogging right now. Really.

There are roughly 254 “more important things”, at last count, that I should be doing before I blog. So, why blog now?

Well, because I like it, and because I don’t do it enough.

So why not blog sooner? Because my mind just hasn’t been on Apple stuff at ALL. What it has been on (besides those 254 things) is politics. I confess that until the last 2 years or so — ie, the rise of Obama — I hadn’t been interested in politics for a LONG time. This is partially because, like Michelle Obama, I haven’t been proud of my country — or, at the very least my country’s politics — in a long, long time (luckily, unlike her, I can say that and not have to retract it with my tail between my legs tomorrow). Being overseas and watching through the eyes of the native country-men of where you live will do that to you. Everything about America looks worse when you live in a relatively peaceful country with socialized healthcare and an almost total ban on guns.

But, I digress.

It occurred to me that if my mind is on politics, but I need and want to write about Apple stuff, I’d better find some common ground. Here, then, is my attempt.

A warning, by the way. If you lack an even casual interest in the current American Presidential campaign, you may or may not find the rest of the article interesting in any way.

I’m a passive Obama supporter, who dreamed of him running for president even before he actually announced. So, that’s obviously going to slant anything I write about politics. Thus I hit google news, combining search terms like “obama”, “apple”, “aapl”, “steve jobs” and “woz” in really interesting and creative ways. Well, maybe just fairly random and desperate ways. I haven’t found a lot, I’ll confess. But, the things I have found have given me a lot to think about. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Up first, Mike Smock over at “Citizen Strategist” asks “Why Isn’t Steve Jobs Running Barack Obama’s Campaign?”. I dig this idea.. Sorta. Mostly because I just think it would be cool to see the two on stage together. What Mike’s getting at here is the idea that Obama should be “comparing and contrasting” his potential policies with that of the current administration, and the potential policies of his campaign adversary. He points out the “Mac Vs. PC” ad campaign as a good example of what he would like to see. While I agree that Liberals as a whole should be combatting the popularly held notion that they would “be reduced to a quivering, whiny mass of ineffective policies and tactics” by a military enemy, I can’t help balking at the notion that something as important as foreign / military policy could be reduced to something as glib as the format used in the “Mac Vs. PC” ad campaign. Like any good latte-sipping, Mac using, pseudo-intellectual liberal, I’d much rather see a solid debate on the topic. I have to admit that the idea of seeing an ad depicting McCain with Bush’s policies hastily tacked on to his own (similar to the ad where PC has a webcam taped to his head as an “upgrade”) would give me a giggle. The point, though, that there needs to be a strong response, which makes use of Obama’s brand as a candidate is an important one. The phrase “Think Different” also springs to mind. I suppose it’s no great surprise that I’d feel this way, as one of the Apple faithful. After all, the “Mac Vs. PC” ad’s weren’t exactly targeted at we, the faithful, except, perhaps, for the sake of humor.

This all ties in well with my next find. Jim Geraghty from the National Review weighs in with a missive titled “Mac vs. PC”, which addresses the at-best-ridiculously-ill-advised “Seal of Obamerica”. The less said about that thing the better, although, as usual I think most of the negative press was little more than cheap shots at an easy target. It would, however, be nice if the targets weren’t so soft to begin with. He makes a nice correlation between the way that the Obama campaign are perceived by their opponents, and the way that we Apple-freaks are seen by the outside world. His musings on “change for the sake of change”, and whether “change” is synonymous with “improvement” particularly struck home. Is being different enough, and do Obama supporters and Mac-lovers come off as too cultish in our devotion? Given the current administration, though, and the refusal of the Republican party as a whole to cut their losses and admit some fairly serious mistakes, even if it’s not the answer, change for the sake of change may be a damned good start.

Both of these really center on the branding of the candidates, which really is where computers, and especially Apple, intersect with politics. On both sides it seems there are only two choices. Just like you COULD vote for the green candidate, you COULD choose a Dell with Ubuntu. Most of us, however are going to buy a Mac or a Windows PC, because, like it or not, they’re the accepted options. In a similar vein, those of us that vote in the US elections this year are going to vote for one of these two candidates – and some of us are going to make a choice based, at least partially, on the brand that has been built-up around the candidate. Just like the Mac Vs. PC ad’s, though, such marketing would really only matter to the “swing” buyers, those who might “switch”, or, indeed, have yet to “buy”. The faithful will, for better or worse, always remain as such. In the end, though, I hope the presidential choice boils down to more than just marketing, and something along the lines of “conscience” and “good faith”. Hopefully there are enough of us on both sides to not be swayed by marketing to at least keep things interesting. I hate to think my country’s future lies in the hands of switchers.