Memo to Mitt Romney: Giving gifts works.
The power of gift giving has been known for centuries. The Greeks knew it. Their little hollow horse filled with heavily armed men helped them win the Trojan War. Kobe Bryant knew it. He knew that without a 25 carat gift to his wife after he was acquitted of rape charges, he would be forced to live an uncomfortable lifestyle on only half of his money. Most politicians know this. Nothing says “I like you and I value you and I have an ulterior motive” like a thoughtful and obscenely expensive present.
Romney could have used some of that gift advice during his unsuccessful White House run.
During Mitt Romney ‘s post-election day Apology Tour, he complained that President Obama won reelection by giving “gifts” to his constituencies. Obama, according to Romney, shamelessly gave food stamps to the hungry, health insurance access to the sick, amnesty to immigrant children and equality to gay soldiers. It should have come as no surprise to the GOP nominee that gifts have been found to generate positive feeling towards the gift giver. The world’s most famous gift giver, Santa Claus, has known this for centuries, and he continues to win the popular vote every single year. In fact, his ability to buy loyalty through the giving of gifts has left him unopposed for decades. Humbug doesn’t stand a chance against Ol’ St. Nick.
Romney needed to look no further than Kris Kringle’s most recent successful campaign to see the power of gift giving. Yes, it is true that incumbents like Santa have a built-in advantage, but it is also true that giving gifts works.
Just listen to Santa’s acceptance speech from Election Night 2012:
“Thank you for reelecting me for another term as your Santa. Throughout this campaign, my platform was clear. I make one non-negotiable promise – now that I am your Santa for another term, you will receive gifts this year!
“This has been a hard fought campaign, often about small things. When Humbug falsely accused me of kissing mommy underneath the mistletoe that night, I knew that our politics was badly broken. Thankfully, the good people of America saw through the blizzard of attack ads and voted for giving over greed.
“I was accused of being a socialist, a redistributor of wealth. The voters understood that I wear a red suit not as a political statement, but because red is the color of my rosy cheeks. And the beard I wear is not a symbol of Stalinist sympathies. It is a practical, balanced approach to the bitter cold I face when visiting my white house in the North.
“You rejected these distractions. You know me. Santa is good for economic growth. Humbug only offered lumps of clean coal in your stockings.
“I was there at the birth of the Easy Bake Oven and the hoola hoop. I was there when the first Nerf basketball net was raised over a closet doorway in Anytown, USA. My commitment to these innovations helped these industries to flourish. The Cabbage Patch dolls changed the face of dolls forever. Ferbies and Tickle Me Elmo were tangible examples of my intervention in the marketplace that spurred growth and widespread prosperity. In short, I built that!
“My assistance in these products was not, as my Humbug opponent said, a “Santa takeover of toys”. It was an example that when private industry and Santa work together in partnership, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
“I will continue to strengthen our security with increased surveillance of our enemies and I will remain vigilant against those who are naughty. To those who wish to do harm to this country, I remind you as I have the entire campaign: I know if you’ve been bad or good, so you’d better be good for goodness sakes.
“I want to especially thank the youth of this country who came out in droves to support my candidacy. Knowing that young people believe in me gave me the strength to wake up every morning and continue to fight the forces of pessimism that infect our everyday lives. Each evening after some milk and cookies, my staff would deliver 10 of your letters chosen at random to my bedside. Your heartfelt notes pulled my droll little mouth up like a bow at the end of a long day.
“In the end, this was not an election about me. It was about you. You are the gifts that keep on giving.
“We face daunting challenges. The polar ice caps are melting. I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Sarah Palin is committed to thinning the herd that powers my sleigh and Blitzen has gone into hiding. But with your help and that of several million tiny invisible elves, I know there is no rooftop we cannot reach.
“I do not fear the days ahead. We face a fiscal cliff of too much spending and too little revenue every January, but we always persevere. We must have presents and invest in fun and merriment, but at the same time I recognize the need for a balanced approach. The wealthy among us, and that includes me, must contribute a little more to those who are struggling. Message: I care, Ho Ho Ho.
“Once again, thank you for your vote this holiday season and every season. I will not let you down. By the way, America, there’ll be something extra nice in your stocking this year. No, it’s not Medicare for all, but you’re close. It’s a voucher to your local state health insurance exchange! Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year!”
So Mitt, next time you run for office, remember the example of Santa Claus. Giving gifts works. You might want to think about a red suit, too.