State government as corporate body ….
State government is the result of the morphing of colonial stock companies and trading posts. What does state government do? In the simplest of terms, state governments in the United States:
- Sell protection services; i.e. family welfare programs, state militia and state police services, and transportation services.
- Finance themselves via tax collection and fees for the aforementioned services.
- Provide the aforementioned services via its own staff or through private contracts.
- Act as brand managers where regulatory agencies describe and implement the philosophy and policies that guide how protection services are to be delivered.
- Continuously validate the right to tax and govern the populace by keeping their promises to deliver these services.
Competing for the right to manage the franchise …
Political factions compete for the right to describe and implement the philosophy and policies that guide how protection services are to be delivered. Think of them as management companies that, through their own internal mechanisms, choose the potential managers that appear on your ballot during an election.
Democracy allows the individual citizen to participate in the selection process. Voters must suffer the silliness of the campaign season, where the management companies seek to persuade the voter that a particular faction should be allowed to provide the state’s protection services.
Maryland is to Nike as Georgia is to Asics …
Nike and Asics are brands that compete on the tangibles and the intangibles. How are their shoes priced? How do their shoes look on your feet? How do their shoes enhance your performance on the field or the court? Most times the decision comes down to the intangibles, down to how the shoes make you feel emotionally.
You can probably say the same thing for an airline. Should I fly Delta or get on Southwest? Southwest may win on price, but do they connect to as many destinations as Delta? Is customer service more important to me than consistent on-time arrivals?
In a mobile nation as the United States, a state’s management company, the ruling faction, must keep in mind the brand messaging for its state. It has to be more than how well parties compete with each other in the silly season of political campaigns. A Georgia citizen may appreciate the terrain, topography, and climate of the Peach State. It may even appreciate the diversity of the citizenry; that the state is accepting of all peoples, religions, personal views.
But if the price of living in Georgia i.e. taxes paid and other costs of living are not exceeded by the benefits i.e. the protection services a state is supposed to provide, then that citizen may find herself heading to Maryland or Florida. It goes to the adage that once you win the office you find governing to be a different animal.
Conclusion: Political parties should be prepared to be government brand managers …
When the silliness of the campaign is over, the real work begins. Government is serious business. The hand shaking and rhetoric on the campaign trail has to be translated into service delivery that gets your management company another four-year contract.