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Your Mom Hates Conservatives

Posted on January 22 2011 7:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Mammoth video game publisher Electronic Arts has a brilliant ad campaign going for their new survival horror title Dead Space 2. It is built around the generational divide between parents and children, and sons and mothers in particular.

A mom’s disapproval has always been an accurate barometer of what is cool. So Dead Space 2 was put to the test.

At an undisclosed focus group facility in the heart of conservative America, over 200 moms were recruited to participate in market research. Only, this wasn’t market research. The facility was rigged with hidden cameras, microphones, and a crew sitting behind the glass ready to document every single reaction, opinion, and emotion.

Upon arrival, the moms were individually ushered into a room and confronted with three massive monitors, a single chair, and a disembodied voice coming over the speaker system. They didn’t know what they were going to see. They were only instructed to be completely honest.

We then subjected each mom to the most action-packed, violent, disturbing footage Dead Space 2 has to offer.

Some were disgusted. Some were shocked. Others couldn’t believe what they were seeing. And every single mom hated it.

The art of marketing is informed by an understanding of the human condition. Understanding what drives people enables marketers to draw them around by the proverbial nose.

In this case, Electronic Arts has leveraged the ever-present generational divide to entice young gamers toward their latest hot property. The desire of children to do what their parents disapprove of is universal, and particularly prominent among Dead Space 2’s target demographic of teenagers and young adults.

Some conservatives may be put off by such marketing. However, there is a lesson to take away from EA’s campaign which ought not be lost among moralizing.

Conservatives have a tremendous opportunity, at this moment in our nation’s history, to leverage the generational divide in their own marketing campaign. Given the baby boomer retirement time bomb which is now in the process of detonating, the focus of such an effort ought to be the ever-rising generational debt.

Young people are already well aware of the undue burden which has been placed upon them by prior generations. Those who can see the writing on the wall do not expect to receive entitlement benefits such as Social Security, certainly not at a level commiserate with what they are paying in.

Social Security reform is a touchy subject these days for Thomas Brown and his grandparents.

“If I broach it with them, they are against any sort of legislation that would do anything to change Social Security,” says Brown…, a 28-year-old financial adviser with Pivot Point Advisors in Houston. “They depend on it, but when I look at my retirement plans, I don’t factor it in. The new way of thinking is that Social Security won’t be there — you have to plan for your own retirement(…)”

… Gallup reports that six out of ten pre-retirement Americans don’t think Social Security will be able to pay them a benefit when they retire; those age 18-34 are even more pessimistic, with 76 percent saying they’ll get nothing from the system.

Such expectations are well-informed. Even advocates of Social Security, such as the author of the above blurb, are forced to admit the program is unsustainable in its current form. No one disputes the pay-as-you-go nature of the program, which obligates current workers to provide for current retirees regardless of how much the latter have paid into the system.

As Brown says, the [annual benefit statement] does draw attention to the fact that the system will start paying out more in benefits than we collect in taxes in 2016, and that the [Social Security Trust Fund] will be exhausted by 2037, absent any reforms to the system.

Advocates of Social Security propose reforms which would tax Americans more in order to maintain the program’s solvency. However, that would not address the moral issue which ought to be the heart of conservatives’ appeal to younger generations. It is unjust to obligate the young to fulfill promises their elders made to themselves, a generational form of taxation without representation.

By what right may my father commit me to pay for his retirement? That is the quintessential question. It has the virtue of appealing to the innate sense among the young that they are wiser than their elders, and may lead them toward a position where they actually become so.

Today’s youth find themselves on the wrong end of a decades long Ponzi scheme, and most of them know it. From “this isn’t your daddy’s Cadillac” to “your mom hates Dead Space 2,” savvy marketers have always taken advantage of the tendency among the young to question the wisdom of their parents. Conservatives have an opportunity to likewise leverage the generational divide to advance a saner vision of fiscal and monetary policy than leftists have imposed. The best part of such a campaign would be its transcendence above cheap marketing trick, because the “product” conservatives are selling truly is everything it’s cracked up to be.

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