You may remember when Madonna crowned Britney Spears as the queen of pop with a kiss. In similar fashion, President Bill Clinton and the Democratic elite passed the presidential baton to Senator Hillary Clinton at about that same time. However, the presidential election cycle didn’t get started until 2007. By that time, a cultural sea change was well under way that started with our twenty-somethings and crept into the ranks of thirty- and forty-somethings. The „Baby Boomers“ are being assimilated as we speak, and Hillary Clinton faces the same non-starting reign that Britney Spears had after her coronation
„The Kiss“ was supposed to be the coronation of Britney Spears as the new Queen of Pop Music. The general interpretation was that Madonna was passing the crown to Spears with a kiss. That was June of 2003 and Britney’s career went in the opposite direction from there.
Roy H. Williams, known as the Wizard of Ads, puts forth a well-researched theory of Britney’s failure that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of her music or her manic personal life.
So, what happened, and how does this apply to Hillary?
According to Williams’s theory, we changed as a culture. This same change may be plaguing Hillary Clinton.
Williams contends that every 40 years — almost like a clock — our culture does a sudden and complete shift. It happens quickly. Williams presents evidence that the shift takes only six years to complete. Within that time, not only will the tastes and attitudes of our young people have been cemented into the culture, but the attitudes of the elder generations will have been irrevocably altered as well.
Williams believes that this process will be complete by the end of 2009. Clinton may not make it into office before the door closes.
Essentially, Madonna passed the baton to Britney Spears at a time when our emerging young generation — the „Millennials“ — was changing our culture. This generation is very different from the „plastic, me-me“ culture that lifted Madonna to dominance and spawned Disco at its zenith.
Likewise, Clinton reflects the attitudes of our „Baby Boomer“ generation. According to William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of The Fourth Turning, the generation that wouldn’t give in to „the man“ in the sixties and seventies became a legion of equally uncompromising legislators and bureaucrats.
This new generation isn’t „down with that,“ and more and more of us older folks find ourselves agreeing.
Some signs that our attitudes have changed in this short time include the new grass-roots politics Facebook service BookLobby™ that allows the “Facebook generation” to get involved in the lobbying process. Grass-roots power is a notion is gaining power as our culture shifts. This is reflected in the success that presidential candidate Barack Obama has had in raising funds on the Internet. He has raised significantly more money than Clinton with a smaller average donation size. This is the signature of grass-roots fund raising.
It appears that Obama has crashed Clinton’s coronation as the harbinger of another generational shift. While, Obama may well be lifted into the Democratic nomination, this is no fault of Clinton. She would have had the same chance against a tsunami wave.
There is hope for, however. Madonna, now in her 50s, continues to ride a wave of popular success. She has been able to shift with the generational tide. The question is, „Can Clinton do the same?“
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Brian Massey founded Conversion Sciences, a practice that develops personas for businesses wishing to generate leads and sales from online traffic. He is the co-founder of the grass-roots politics Facebook service BookLobby™, an online service that brings voters into the lobbying process.