Consultants have earned a pretty bad reputation over the years. That latest Roger Stone documentary certainly doesn’t help matters.
But just like all of the politicians who have run for office to make a better world, I believe many of us have been called to the business of campaigns for the same reason. As naïve as it may sound, I believe most of us do this work because we believe.
That’s one of the many reasons why I was so devastated by the 2016 election results, and then by the political awards show circuit’s decision to sweep the racism, sexism, Islamophobia under the rug to award mercenaries who only care about winning.
Winning is important. Getting paid, and paying the bills, putting food on the table is important too. But living with yourself, and living with the world you created on the way to the win, matter too.
We have very limited guardrails on our industry. With the FEC mostly toothless and our trade association looking the other way, what we have left is to use public opprobrium to shame consultants, candidates, and campaigns that go beyond the pale.
I can understand the temptation of a gigantic payday from a self-involved billionaire that wants to try his hand at politics. Plenty of Republicans certainly took that money in 2015 and 2016, figuring Trump would never be elected — but those checks would clear.
Now, I understand the payday is very good for the people on the Howard Schultz team. But what I don’t understand is how anybody that believes in the Democratic Party and what we stand for can aim a missile right at the heart of the 2020 election. Schultz’s own polling shows that he will act as a spoiler and help re-elect President Trump.
That’s one of the reasons why I signed on as an advisor to the NoHowardNo campaign. Anyone who sees the re-election of Trump as a threat to our country must look to their conscience and do similarly. The people responsible for this shouldn’t be able to quietly get paid and we all pretend there’s no problem with it.
(Side note: I don’t understand how anybody that considers themselves an honorable Republican practitioner could have taken that Trump money either.)
Are we, as consultants, soulless hacks or not? Do we draw the line somewhere, or just cash the check?
I believe we should be held accountable for the choices we make, and I hope that future clients do likewise and never work again with the consultants that cashed out their ethics.
The people that worked on the 2016 Trump campaign and the Schultz campaign now should have to face repercussions for that. I hope that the mercenaries in our industry pay a financial price because money seems to be the only language they listen to.
Laura Packard (@lpackard) is a partner at PowerThru Consulting, a Democratic digital strategy and web development firm and an advisor to #NoHowardNo.