I can’t write what I want to write this morning.
I even penned two different prologues and shelved them. It sucks because they’re some of the most awesome things I’ve ever written, if I do say so myself.
There’s just too much downside. What could I possibly say about the election or its combatants that wouldn’t turn off at least 20% of you? And what’s the upside? You’ve all made up your minds by now anyway.
You can call me a coward, a fake. This email certainly gives me a platform and, arguably, a responsibility to take a stand on things. To make a difference.
In the end, however, this isn’t my platform. It belongs to our team and our shareholders. Our clients. You.
It’s easy to forget, with all the Dick jokes, personal stories, and weekend delivery, that this is a marketing piece. My goal isn’t just to show off our data, but also how we think about the world. Because if we can convince you to look at things the way we do – to realize that everything affects everything, and everything is constantly changing – you’ll spend loads of money with us. You’ll spread the word.
For sure, I’ve dabbled around the fringes of politics here. When I have, I’ve been accosted from all angles for being too far right, too far left or, more accurately, not being right or left enough. I’d like to think that’s a testament to how unbiased we’ve been.
Being unbiased today means you piss off both sides.
I’ve also tipped my hand on a variety of social issues. Fuck racism, sexism, and bigotry of all forms. Help people in need. I go to church and teach Sunday school. If any of that hurts your feelings, feel free to scroll down to the unsubscribe link.
But, beyond certain inalienable things, being unbiased is absolutely crucial in meeting our business goals, especially our most aspirational one – becoming a force of social good. The world has never been in greater need of a foundational source of truth.
CivicScience can be that truth. If people trust us.
Make no mistake. I’m anything but neutral, personally. We have a veritable forest of political signs in our yard, poll workers in our household, and donation charges on our credit card. We’re all in.
But even though I’ve told you so many intimate things about my marriage, my kids, my relationship with my dad, and seemingly everything in between, my personal politics have to be off-limits. The slope is too slippery.
If you never remember another thing I say to you, remember this:
Extremism begets extremism.
Say it out loud.
You see it everywhere. Each sensational headline leads to a more sensational counterpunch, as outlets, writers, and politicos vie for the coveted ‘virality’ of social media. Eventually, people feel compelled to choose one sensational side or the other.
In dozens of questions we track at CivicScience, one recurring answer choice has precipitously declined over the years: “No strong opinion.”
Even the middle has to declare allegiance, often holding their nose the whole time.
But we won’t. We can’t. Even when we desperately want to.
If you genuinely believe the truth is on your side, you don’t want us openly siding with you anyway. Because once we’ve flown colors, once we’re branded, we’ll be castigated as “fake” in the eyes of anyone you might otherwise want our data to persuade.
We’ll merely live in your echo chamber. Powerless.
I wrote the first of these missives 4 years ago this month. Tuesday feels like a profound culmination – a bookend even – of the many pernicious forces I’ve preached about those many Saturday mornings. Tribalism, social media, disinformation. It’s all on display.
I’d love nothing more than to tell you, objectively, how it should factor into your vote. There’s simply no way to do that without stepping on landmines. Tensions are too high.
Kudos to you if you’re chill right now. You’re a unicorn.
Me? One way or the other, you can bet I’ll be hungover, if not still drunk, when I write whatever I write next week.
And you can guarantee it will be the genuine, unbiased truth.
That’s it for now. I’m not writing about anything else. No frivolous poll questions to answer either. Sorry.
It’s not the time to riff on the most popular Halloween costumes, streaming services, or cosmetic brands.
It’s time to stay focused.