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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Free Enterprise Campaign

As you know, sometimes I like to publish the email threads of my colleague, Dr. Kelton Rhoads and I, on whatever intrigues us at the moment. Here’s the latest on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their free enterprise campaign.

Amy: I see that the US Chamber is launching a campaign to promote the free enterprise system. Sound familiar? Weren’t you advising them to do something like that back in 2007?

Kelton: It’s interesting all right. A few months ago I heard that USCC was announcing an upcoming influence campaign supporting free enterprise, but I haven’t seen any campaign communications yet (other than its announcement). Usually you don’t pre-announce an influence campaign; it’s not S.O.P. to forewarn people you’re going to try to persuade them, because that causes people to resist persuasion more vigorously. Think what “shock and awe” bought us…stiffer resistance. Also, that gives the opposition plenty of time to organize and act. I noticed the SEIU sprang into action shortly after the announcement, damning USCC preemptively with a campaign of their own.

Compare that to Bill Clinton, who was able to successfully run a ‘stealth’ re-election campaign by simply running his ads unannounced, in large cities that didn’t have a big media establishment who’d comment on the campaign ads and bring them to general public  awareness. He was able to persuade hundreds of thousands because nobody knew how big his campaign buy was, and that they should be countering a large-scale campaign. Even the media missed it. So he basically ran an unopposed influence campaign in a lot of big cities, cleverly omitting Los Angeles and New York. Compare that to USCC, whose opposition was “pre-bashing” them for a campaign that was still being assembled.

Amy: And what is sad about this is that they even have to run a campaign, right? If corporations would put more effort into building an allegiance among their own employees when the legislative threats weren’t so prominent, they wouldn’t need to pay money for these campaigns later.  I know that some issues are so broad that you need third party grassroots help, I’m not saying that’s not needed, but there is something to “getting your own house in order” first.  But it’s hard work. I have to think, though, that an executive would place a high value on employees who understand the external risks to their business, which is what the local, state and federal governments are, after all! And a good grassroots program will create that understanding among employees. OK, off soapbox now.