“I just want to say one word to you — just one word: ‘Plastics.'”
~ Friend of his father to Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in “The Graduate,” 1967
That fleeting scene defined the chasm between the World War II generation and the Baby Boomers.
It was more than rejection of the gray flannel suit and cocktail party circuit. It was symptomatic of a deeper malaise — of sharply differing perceptions of the world. Between those born of the Depression and shaped by a war no one doubted versus their children searching for clearer purpose in a world where heroes were assassinated, nuclear annihilation was never far off, and the righteousness of wars was more ambiguous.
Generations have passed since then. But the struggle persists — perhaps even more starkly — between those who seek security anchored in the past and those who yearn for a different future. Both believe, quite sincerely, that their path is truest and best.
“That’s just politics,” some say. “It’s not real.”
Don’t fool yourself. Politics is everything — and everything is politics. Economics. Crime and punishment. Straight vs gay. Pro-life vs pro-choice. Immigration. Affirmative action. Science and religion. Even health care.
Decisions will be made, in Congress and legislatures, in the White House and statehouses, in the courts. But they won’t be permanent. Elected officials come and go, the tenor of courts change with time, policies shift.
What remains the same is the struggle within society. The 90% aligned with one side or the other will hear what they agree with and dismiss the contrary.
That leaves only 10% up for grabs — the uncommitted middle that is shrinking daily. Who will capture their hearts and souls? Those who define the tone of the debate, whose arguments are the most memorable and compelling.
In these battles, the target of each side — and of Crisis & Reputation Management — is the emotional, not the rational.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.