The current political discourse in the U.S. can be divisive, certainly, and any plea for a recognition of the shared humanity of people on the other side of the great cultural divide in the country is probably a good thing. But the new campaign–“Republicans Are People Too”–from consulting firm Glass House Strategy, one of the chief creative houses behind the Romney 2012 campaign seems designed to test that theory.
On its surface, “Republicans Are People Too” is a fine sentiment, but the campaign–which launched this month with a 90-second web spot on YouTube–is a fairly awkward attempt to appeal to Democrats who, the ad seems to theorize, are mean to Republicans because they don’t realize that they stereotypically “liberal” pastimes they enjoy may also be enjoyed by people on the other side of the political aisle. Thus the ad features photographs of people, say, in front of Priuses or wearing headphones, while title cards reveal that these things are not the sole provence of people to their left: “Republicans shop at Trader Joe’s,” or “Republicans read the New York Times,” or “Republicans listen to Spotify.”
All of those things are certainly true, but they’re also probably not at the core of why politics in America are so divisive–it’s hard to imagine that anyone genuinely believed that every single human who ever purchased Two Buck Chuck voted for Barack Obama, and everybody knows that Republicans love to hate-read the Times so they can rant about it on Facebook. A call to recognize that even those we disagree with politically share our humanity is a good thing, but this is a pretty tone-deaf way to do it.