Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Let me introduce myself

For the past six months I've jotted down my thoughts about various political issues, particularly those involving the campaign process. All the while I've hidden my identity and wondered what right I had to put my thoughts out on the Internet, what credibility I had, even what value my ideas and opinions might have, and that it was naive of me to think otherwise. But a few things happened these last six months which have caused me to rethink my situation. In addition to developing a small but regular group of readers, I've come to believe that silence is an endemic problem gripping our society, country and global leadership, and I value my opinions and comments and want them to be heard and read.

So let me introduce myself: Frank Tobe, partner and then owner of the firm Below, Tobe & Associates, Inc., and founder/owner of APT (Applied Political Technologies) Inc. Both developed and segmented political databases somewhat similar to what Karl Rove has done, and both provided political direct mail of all types. Ten years ago I sold or dissolved both.

Vanity Fair's December issue had an article about Rove in which the author described Rove's process of splitting versus lumping -- discriminating versus celebrating inherent similarities -- indicating that Rove was a divider and FDR and Ronald Reagan were lumpers (consolidators).

For 25 years I was in the same business as Rove but never went as far as him in the splitting process because part of his process was to also use his information as a wedge to widen the divisiveness and inflame the fears of that split rather than try to unite around some issue or candidate that could help provide a real solution.

I wanted to differentiate my activities from Rove's and say that my companies and the clients that we worked with, mostly attempted to use niche targeting to get people's attention but then to talk about generic, consolidating, real issues. Although I've been out and away from the business for the last 10 years, I've followed the process and the players with interest and recently, with dismay. Today's extensive national databases and slice-and-dice software are so enabling, and the temptations so great to inflame divisiveness to get the results wanted, that altruism and the pursuit of fairness in politics are almost lost in the process. Although I'm glad I'm no longer part of that business and have no desire to reenter, I think it important to speak out -- because silence is part of the problem and I want to be part of the solution... and to consolidate and unite my friends and readers in the process.

So . . . welcome to my blog.