Tapping into Frustration

I remember the unofficial mantra of the 1992 Clinton Campaign - "It's the economy stupid!"  It was an effective slogan that took hold of America when videos of then President Bush surfaced of him seeing a grocery barcode scanner for the first time. That slogan and that image tapped into a deep frustration that many Americans were experiencing. In a sense it was not the economy at all.. it was the frustration that many were feeling about the economy and the seeming ineffectiveness of the government in dealing with it.

This kind of frustration has been winning (or is that losing?) elections for a long time. My first recollection was of Jimmy Carter beating Gerald Ford - people were frustrated about Watergate and his pardon of Richard Nixon. Four years later Ronald Reagan ousted Carter - people were frustrated with his inability to deal with the Iran hostage crisis. In 1992 Bill Clinton ousted President HW Bush as people struggled with the frustration of the economy.. and third party candidate Ross Perot didn't help. Eight years later folks frustrated by the Lewinsky scandals narrowly elected George W Bush.. and 8 years after that an America frustrated by a war overseas and economic woes elected Barrack Obama.

Many outside of governmental leaders have also tapped into this frustration. Squawk Radio and Cable TV have really tapped into this frustration. The celebrity hucksters.. you know who they are.. have made millions of dollars fueling these frustrations. In a sense these folks would not be in business if it were not for our frustrations. Sadly they rarely offer antidotes other than some form of revolutionary rhetoric that instructs us to get rid of the bums in power.. as long as we keep their bums in power.

I guess what I am trying to say is that frustration may not always be the best motivator to take action. I know that I have made some bad decisions when I am frustrated.. not that they have all been bad.. it is just that, in retrospect, decisions made out of frustration are usually subject to second guessing. Maybe there are more positive ways to deal with frustration? Maybe refocusing on something positive would crank down the frustration a bit? Maybe listening to music would be a good alternative to Squawk Radio? Maybe it is time to turn off Squawk TV and watch a movie? Maybe?

Are you frustrated? What are effective ways of dealing with frustration?


  1. Speaking for myself, I did not vote for Obama solely or even mostly out of frustration. Granted, I was tired of 8 years of Bush and not looking forward to 8 years of McCain. But, while I AGAINST Bush both times, I actually voted FOR Obama. I thought Obama brought a positive message and that's what I connected with. I know in addition to his message of hope, there was a message of change which was intended to tap into people's frustrations. So, I think the Obama campaign was actually based on tapping into frustration AND on something positive.


  2. I agree Brian. Even folks who vote against a candidate usually resonate with something positive about the person that they actually vote for.


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