Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Learning From Failure: How To Avoid The Mistakes Others Make

Reputations are made or broken on the internet. I've written extensively on how a person can become famous for the wrong reasons and how to recover from it should it happen to you. Today I'm going to talk about the lessons we can learn from the failures of the Romney campaign.

Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate for the presidential election. A canny businessman, he looked set to topple the current incumbent, Barack Obama, on a platform of sorting out the economy. Then he opened his mouth...

Mitt Romney presidential campaign 2012

I've been advocating against Mitt the Twit because he annoys me. Everything about him winds me up. An entitled One Percenter who doesn't know he's born, he and his stuck-up wife think of us as "you people," a grasping, greedy bunch of shiftless moochers. By "us" I mean people who don't pay federal income tax in the USA. Apparently, there are 47% of those, and most of them pay other taxes so they're not the parasites Mitt makes them out to be.


Mr. Romney began by going up against GOP (Grand Old Party, a nickname for the Republicans) favourites in the primaries, and had to make his case against the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. He won by swinging to the right to get the Tea Party, a right-wing campaign movement affiliated with the Republican party, on side. His record as a businessman, a bishop in the Mormon church, and a faithful state administrator as governor of Massachusetts stood him in good stead and provided us with a portrait of a moderate Republican businessman.


It started, it seems with the Etch-a-sketch comment by an aide, which turned out to be right on the button. Mitt has become known for flip-flopping on the issues. Unlike President Obama, who was seen to come around to the positions he's changed stance on, Mitt vehemently insisted on one position, then changed to its polar opposite, apparently after receiving a stiff challenge. He's also made a huge fool of himself internationally, annoying the UK, Israel/Palestine, Japan, and China by insulting them at every opportunity. This is the man who believes the world needs "American leadership." I'd like to see how being hopelessly arrogant and stupid will achieve that. Bear in mind that his opponent has a better reputation in their dealings with the UK, Israel/Palestine, Japan, and China. The endless mendacity, wriggling, and tax dodging doesn't help. For all the trumpeting that he'd finally released his tax returns and complied with his 13% statement, Mitt has three years to submit a revised return to lower his exposure and get all that his breaks entitle him and other one percenters to. And he didn't even tell us about ALL of his money. I presume it's more than "you people" need to know. Don't get me started on his patrician presumption and ill-disguised racism. It's all over the internet on the social media and news websites.

What's going on?

If I didn't know better I'd say he's trying to throw the election because the Republicans have lurched too far to the right and he wants to get his life back. Mitt is usually moderate and has a good reputation in Massachusetts, which he left with universal healthcare. Obamacare is actually copied from Mitt's successful policy. He's pretty much trashed his own reputation, though. It's hard to recover from the gaffes he's made and it's impossible to take him seriously. This election is probably going to be won or lost on the internet. With the American media in the hands of six corporations, people are going to the internet to fact-check and they don't like what they see.

What can be done?

Mitt has his own money. If he wants to be taken seriously he needs to stop relying on bigoted plutocrats for donations and use his own money to fund his election campaign. He then needs to fight the election on the areas in which the current president falls short. As it is, neither party is adequately representing the interests of Americans, they're walking a delicate line between pandering to their donors and to their voter bases. President Obama is winning based on his possession of a substantial spinal column. He's willing to stand up to people who attempt to pressurize him. He's a bit of a populist, as one has to be in that role, but he can and does stand up for what he believes in. If Mitt does that AND takes on the military-industrial-surveillance complex, Obama is out of a job. Actually, the only one doing that is the current incumbent.

What can we learn?

The point is, to be considered trustworthy, you have to be seen to make the right decisions when the pressure is on. Romney fails on this at every turn. The publicists and PR people will tell you that a reputation can be built on well-placed adverts and articles online. Actually, it's built on what you do by the people you influence. An artificial reputation can quickly be pulled down by the emergence of a few facts. A real one can weather any storm. Engagement with the people you're trying to impress will get them on side. They'll remember if you slag them off, then try to cozy up to them later.

So what can we learn from the Romney campaign 2012? Be consistent, be honest, be reasonable, be friendly, and be careful of the company you keep. Say what you will about yourself, but it's what the people who interact with you think of you that matters when you're trying to do business online. You can't manage your reputation until you've learned to manage your conduct.

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