Why the Democrats remind me of a struggling startup…

In my entire career as a low-budget blogger, I’ve only touched on politics once. Generally, it’s a topic I leave alone.  But in a recent post about his relationship with Apple, Brad Feld rather succinctly called out why he doesn’t support the republicans.  He did a nice job of articulating some key points that I agree with.  Shortly after reading that article, I heard a discussion on NPR analyzing the DNC event in Denver.  The panelists also made some interesting points, and the combination of the two got me thinking…

The Democrats are acting like a startup with a big idea.

You ask them “what’s it about?” and you get a hundred answers.  The economy, the war in Iraq, healthcare, education, welfare reform, George Bush, foreign policy… The list goes on.  When they remember they say “we’re new, this could be huge, it’s all about change.”  They know there’s a big opportunity and they’re chasing it hard.

But the Democrats are so sold on how they’re new, exciting and different that they are completely unable to deliver a compelling and simple value-proposition.

I swear it gives me flashbacks to my days of pitching disruptorMonkey and a number of the startups I’ve consulted with.

Back to the NPR show.  One of the panelists was talking about Obama’s tax policy versus McCain’s and pointing out that Obama’s was fairly similar to what Bill Clinton did when he was in office while McCain’s was largely a continuation of Bush’s program.  Okay, so what?  The guy went on to say that under Clinton ~22M new jobs were created.  Under Bush, it was ~5M (one of the lowest rates of job growth under any President).

Ay caramba!  Now that’s a value proposition.

Obama:  “My plan is a lot like Bill Clinton’s.  His plan generated 22M new jobs over 8 years.  The Bush plan you’ve had for the past 8 years generated 75% fewer jobs.  Under McCain, you’ll get more of the same. If you want 15M fewer new jobs in 8 years, vote for McCain.”

Yes, there are many more features and benefits that they can talk about, but like any good startup, they need to get focused and deliver a value prop that’s compelling for the vast majority of their audience.

I think that one is a good one — it would work on me.  Maybe there are others.  But they sure need a mentor who can get them to that point of clarity. And like a startup, they need to do it before time runs out.