Consider for yourself:
Did you watch both? How the heck did this happen.
David Brooks has a great editorial in today's NYT opinion page explaining the obvious decline, its origins, and its ramifications.
And to me it has direct implications on how all public communications professionals need to think and re-think our choices.
First, simple messages that ask our audience to think very little may have short term benefits but long-term negative consequences. Primarily because when we put things in stark terms that depend upon negative factors (hate, fear, derision, resentment) we exit the arena of ideas for the arena of emotion. Now, many brand theorists today say it is emotion that drives choice and I agree but when the emotion is devoid of an idea than it is simply adrenaline and eventually it will wear out. The idea behind the emotion matters. When Buckley threatened to punch Chomsky in the nose it was because he had an ideological gripe with him. It wasn't because Chomsky simply represented a handle (e.g. "The Media Elite").
Second, simply stated, complexity counts. When we ask our audience to stop thinking then they will and that is dangerous. Even more dangerous we ask only those that don't want to think to be part of our conversation. This leads to the loop of noise I wrote about earlier and in an age of consumer co-creation how dangerous is it to risk relationship for the sake of delusional addiction?
Today's economic news indicates what is bred when emotions are developed devoid of ideas. The market psychology is panic. In the short term it was fun for people to use their homes as ATMs on their lawn but the long-term consequential melt-down stops the party.
Communications needs to consider the arena of ideas and long-term consequence if it is to breed the kind of passionate loyalty the fledgling conservative movement once had.
If not, then we risk brands with Palinesque depth and I don't think many consumers will want to dive headfirst into a pool that shallow.