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2: A bit of history

The three presidents prior to President Trump. source:

By way of background, and said with all humility, I have an undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Economics and Political Science, and an MBA from The University of Michigan. In my pre-college school years, I exceled in mathematics, and in my senior year of high school, having passed through calculus the prior year, I attended mathematics courses at a local college.

I have spent most of my career in statistics-heavy marketing analytics organizations, in technical and executive roles. Throughout my tenure, I have authored both academic and non-academic papers, articles, and reviews, and given many speeches, lectures, and presentations at universities and industry events. I state this not as to look for praise, but merely to say that I’ve had exposure to (and interest in) politics, economics, and business, both in the US and around the world, academically and, to some extent, in my vocation.

NOTE: In my comments that follow, I have decided to free myself of the need to provide any specific dates, sources, and exact locations, and focus on items as I recall them and as they have been tattooed in my memory.

My generation remembers both the cold war and the aftermath. I recall the Iranian hostage crisis but not in a meaningful way (I was 12). During my time studying political science and macro-economics, the world was offering up the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandela, and pictures from Tiananmen Square. We also had the Challenger space shuttle horror, and the Chernobyl disaster. My focus on the Soviet political economy my senior year caught the eye of some of our agencies, but I decided to participate in the world of commerce.

Nonetheless, some of you will recall that the issues of the day politically were how Russia would convert its unaffordable military industrial complex into a more balanced economy to support its people, without destroying the economy and the state. This was called “guns to butter” at the time. Glasnost, which was Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of openness, offered a promise of a more accepting society, with multi-party candidates, and a reduced Communist Party influence. Both of the political parties in the US watched, as the Reagan-era policy of out-spending the soviets led to the systematic take down of the cold war. We spent many years speculating how this might play out.

In the 1990’s, I was focused on my career as a statistician and consultant, and pursuing my graduate degree. I started the decade as a moderate democrat. I applauded Clinton’s move to the center, and was a fan of the centrist “Democratic Leadership Council”. I felt strongly that our deficits matter, and that fiscal discipline was important. Near the end of Clinton’s presidency, there was talk in DC of not only a balanced budget, but also of paying down the deficit. It seems laughable now, but then there was concern that if the US wasn’t borrowing, the world wouldn’t know how to set interest rates!

In 2000, we all witness the electile disfunction in Florida. It was the first disruptive presidential election in a long time, and I saw bitterness and anger that I hadn’t seen before. I will also admit to being in the middle of life with young children, and, as an executive one of the largest analytics firms in Omnicom, I was not able to pay as much attention to the back-and-forth at the time.

As a side note, other than the Clinton impeachment fiasco, we lived in a time where the president wasn’t on the news every day. I recall days going by with no big news from Washington. This was before every part of our lives was forced to be political. When sports was just sports. When I didn’t need to decide where to shop based on political press releases by retailers. Even though there were differences, politically, it didn’t feel as though we were constantly being forced to accept some new social change. There was a “win sometimes, lose sometimes” acceptance of our republican process. But I digress.

By the end of the 1990’s, I’d listened to Rush Limbaugh and started to examine many of my beliefs. I moved to the conservative side, mostly because of fiscal and tax policy.

Of course, September 11 changed all of us in many ways. One big one, of course, is opening our eyes to the horror of the Islamic terrorist movement. While one can plausibly argue that much of what we knew then has been severely questioned since then, I went in strong to support our government’s response in Afghanistan. I didn’t think twice about having to take off my shoes at the airport or to undertake the other “reasonable” precautions, to protect the homeland. If you are rolling your eyes right now, I get it. But at the time the horror of what we had experienced impacted so many.

Because of this, the advertising industry experienced a severe depression. What advertiser wanted to go on the air with a smiling family selling paper towels at a time like this? What is the proper response? I voluntarily left the analytics firm that I had been running, and started my own marketing consulting business, as a solo consultant.

I also supported George Bush. I knew the Iraq war wasn’t related to Afghanistan, but believed the lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD). I couldn’t fathom being misled by George, or Colin Powell. Not these guys. Right? Right?

In 2008, our politics, in my view, changed. People whom I have known as moderate Republicans were asking me if I agreed that it’s great that we are about to elect the first black president. What? Did you see his qualifications? What do we know about his background? I could tell you exactly what John McCain was up to for the past 25 years, the detail about Barak Obama seemed to be non-existent. His politics seemed very lefty, and his relationship with Jeremiah Wright was ignored by the media. I noticed the extent to which the media covered up for Obama during the primaries (so did Hillary…).

Of course, we were also in the middle of a recession, one caused by over-leverage and lax oversight. Among other things, this led to the election of Barak Obama, and the road to the transformation of America.


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