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What If They Held an Election for President and Nobody Showed Up?

Bob Fells's picture

Why We Vote

[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]

What If They Held an Election for President and Nobody Showed Up?

If I had a time machine and could only use it only once, I would zoom ahead fifty years just to see what History has to say about the 2016 Presidential Election. Will it be known as the “Year of The System is Rigged” or perhaps it will be remembered as the election where regardless of who won, We the People lost? Only Time will tell but in the meantime I offer my thoughts on what many folks regard as a bad joke or evidence that this great nation has begun its decline. But don’t look for any Pollyanna bromides from me. The situation is very serious but then so was World War II.

The title of this essay is a riff on a silly bit of profundity from the 1960s. The original quote was, “What if they held a war and nobody came?” My reaction a half century ago was “Huh?” But now that I am older and wiser and have seen much more of the world, my reaction today to this nifty little question is, “Huh?”

As I outlined in my “Washington Report” column in the current issue (August/Sept) issue of ICCFA Magazine, the two political parties have the same two-part strategy for winning on Election Day. The first part of the strategy is obvious: persuade as many people as possible to vote for my candidate. You don’t need to be a political science major to know that one. But the second part of the strategy is less obvious: to discourage people who won’t be voting for my candidate from voting at all. Right now, you’re probably thinking, “Huh?” Let me explain.

Everybody knows that there are not enough committed Democrats or Republicans to win the election for their candidate. In fact, the election will be decided by the independent voters who could care less about party affiliation. They are the swing voters who will elect either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. Let’s not kid ourselves, the party faithful will be voting come hell or high water, even if they have to crawl on their hands and knees to the polling place. Yes, they will encourage others to vote as well, but they will also seek to discourage those from voting for their opponent. Here’s how that works and there are several tactics:

1.) The “Don’t Waste Your Time” ploy: you normally don’t vote but feel strongly this year about one of the candidates. Unfortunately for me, it’s not my guy (or gal). If I can’t get you to vote my way, maybe I can get you to just stay home so you won’t be helping to elect the opposition. I will encourage you not to waste your time voting. I mean what is your measly one vote going to do? Surely you have better things to do with your time. So go with your gut instinct and don’t bother voting. After all, both candidates are damaged goods and that way you can’t be blamed no matter who wins, or so I’ll try to persuade you.

2.) The “Laugh Your Way Out of Voting” ploy: the late night talk show hosts are experts with this one. They ridicule the candidates so audiences get the impression that the candidates are just clowns and we, no surprise here, shouldn’t waste our time voting for them. I used to enjoy political humor at the expense of both parties but now I ask where do all these jokes leave us? They leave us discouraged and perhaps deciding not to have anything to do with the election. Again, this is good if you’re not voting for my guy.

3.) The “What’s in It for Me” ploy: Since at least the mid-1960s members of Congress have been promising constituents that they will benefit from government largesse if they just vote for that candidate. Often it takes the form of bringing projects to the state for jobs, or personal benefits based on an individual’s circumstances. This is why Term Limits failed because senior members of Congress who “brought home the bacon” would step down and be replaced by somebody else who would channel the “bacon” to their state instead. When voters realized that Term Limits were a two-edge sword, the idea died the death of a dog. This also explains why certain senior members of Congress who would be long-retired in any other profession are still showing up for work.

4.) The “Absentee Voting” ploy: Since it’s perfectly legal, encouraging people to vote by absentee ballot has become an increasingly popular election strategy. It’s easy to qualify – I’ve done it myself – since you only have to say there is a reasonable likelihood that you will be unavailable to vote on Election Day (out of town, sick, in the hospital, etc.) and so you want to vote now instead. Back in the day, absentee ballots were not counted until all the election day ballots had been counted and they rarely changed the outcome of an election, whether local or national. But when strategists realized that many people who intended to vote stayed home on election day because it was raining or too cold or too hot, absentee voting suddenly became an important tool in winning. So if you are “iffy” about showing up on election day, find out where you can vote in advance by absentee ballot. You will only be encouraged to use this method of voting by people who think you’re voting for their guy. Think of it as a political version of preneed.

5.) The “Federal Government is so Huge that It Doesn’t Make Much Difference Who is the President” ploy: Lots of people think up this excuse for not voting all by themselves. But you only have to look at our last two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, to realize the huge consequences their actions had on our nation and on all of us as individuals. Executive Orders are actually laws that a president can issue all by himself and without the consent of Congress. There are limitations to the actions a president can take through Executive Orders but a challenge must go to the Supreme Court and that third branch of our government is not known for its speedy response to litigation. So as a practical matter, the president can make his own laws that will be in effect for a certain length of time before corrective action can be taken, if it’s ever taken. Also, Executive Orders can be repealed by the new president signing a new Executive Order rescinding the previous one. So the point here is that the president can and does yield a great deal of influence that can affect each of our lives. If you don’t vote, regardless of your opinion of the candidates, you are letting other people decide your fate.

A good fallback position in deciding who to vote for, especially if you dislike both candidates, might be to shed any feelings of self-dealing and ask the age old question, “Which person is best for the nation?” That may sound like something you’d hear in a high school civics class but it’s a legitimate question. As long as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln aren’t running this time around, we need to parse what’s on the ballot. I have my own idea of who I may vote for – and if you don’t agree then let me urge you to stay home on Election Day! :)

Empty Nester - Lead generation Tips

datadale's picture

Many members of the Death Care Industry market to Empty Nesters

They are an excellent target for cars, vacations, theater, concerts & sporting events, electronics, restaurants, health & country clubs, philanthropic causes and financial services.

Many empty nesters have focused on financial planning and have made plans for charitable giving or pre-need arrangements.

When it comes to reaching out to empty nesters (defined as 55-64 years old / no kids at home), remember these key facts:

• Empty nesters spend 18 minutes a day reading mail
• 26% have responded to an item of mail in the last 12 months
• 39% say they are comfortable living on their present income
• 64% agree they would feel less in control without printed copies of important documents
• 74% agree you should take responsibility for your own financial security after retirement.

For more information about Empty Nesters go to:
For info about the top Lead Generation Lists in the Death Care Industry go to:

What are the best times to post on Facebook?

datadale's picture
facebook_416x416.jpg10.15 KB

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it's used depends heavily on the audience.

According to Quick Sprout, the best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Other optimal times include 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and weekdays from 1:00–4:00 p.m. tend to see the highest click-through rates. On Fridays, Facebook use spikes by 10%.

The worst times to post on Facebook are weekends before 8:00 a.m. and after 8:00 pm, according to SurePayroll's research.

BTW - According to Neil Patel, Quick Sprout’s social media blogger, since people tend to be happier on Fridays you should post funny or upbeat content to match your audience's mood.

For more information, go to the Dataman Group website at

Is Telemarketing to Cell Phones Ethical / Practical?

datadale's picture

I get asked questions about Cell Phone lists all the time. I’d like to set the record straight on Telemarketing to Cell Phone #s.

Even though the Telemarketing Sales Rule does not outlaw all Telemarketing to cell phones, does this mean that marketers can call cell phone #s individually, dialing by hand?

Besides the legal ramifications, there are definitely some ethical & practical considerations – because it’s not just about getting connected, it’s about what happens after.

Ethical & practical consideration #1: Timing
Cell phones are portable. Callers need to remember that a number registered in North Carolina may currently be travelling in Australia. The best times of day for calling might not always be the best for a cell phone user. There is nothing more annoying that being woken up in the middle of the night by an unsolicited cell phone call.

Ethical & practical consideration #2: Safety
An individual reached on their cell phone may be operating a car or other potentially harmful machinery. Many states have already or are looking to ban the use of cell phones without hands-free devices while driving, biking, or even walking. Callers might be held liable for inducing respondents to break those laws or the ramifications thereof.

Ethical & practical consideration #3: Privacy
Where might you be reaching someone on their cell phone? Is it a secure location or a public place where sensitive conversations are totally out of place. With identity theft rampant, consumers are leery of giving personal information, especially credit card numbers, over a cell phone where they might be overheard.

At Dataman Group,, we always caution our clients to take the high road, be smart and follow best practices – not only from a legal standpoint, but from the practical & ethical perspective as well.

No one wants to be the one calling someone’s cell phone while they’re driving and be responsible in any way for causing an accident.

Telemarketing lists of landlines are still available. Even though scrubbed phone lists comprise only about 12%, they still work for many offers, including final expense.

Election 2016 - A Canary in the Coal Mine

Bob Fells's picture

Why We Vote

[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]

Election 2016 – A Canary in the Coal Mine

Summer approaches and with it this year come the two national political conventions by the Democrats and the Republicans. Truly a tale of two cities, or at least two very different conventions. According the chattering classes in the news media, Mrs. Clinton cannot avoid being the Democratic Party nominee absent being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Nobody says what might happen if she makes bail. The reason the fix is in for her nomination is thanks to her party’s system of “super delegates” who were apparently committed to vote for her even before the first ballot was cast in the first primary in New Hampshire this past winter. If that is so, then what was all that voting about?

The Republican Party has just the opposite situation. Mr. Trump looks as though he will win enough primaries fair and square to obtain the party’s nomination without any smoke and mirrors. But unlike the Democrats, the Republican leadership doesn’t want the vote leader to be their nominee and are trying to conjure up tricks worthy of Houdini to somehow deny him the nomination. But the leadership of both parties have one thing in common: they want the power to pull the plug on the popular vote if We the People should vote for “the wrong candidate.” Oh, for the days of those smoke-filled back rooms where behind closed doors the party bosses decided on the nominee. It was not democratic (small “d” in its generic meaning) but it had the virtue of avoiding the pretense of “let the voters decide.” Mr. Trump is correct in his assertion that “the system is rigged” but it’s rigged mainly in its illusion of letting the voters choose the candidate.

Depending on how you see the political landscape, both putative Presidential candidates are problematic. One has a long list of negatives including a substantial “unlikeability” factor. The other one speaks in hyperbole, badmouths opponents, and is looked upon by many as a windbag. (To avoid confusion, I’m referring to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, respectively). So what kind of choice does the American voter have come Election Day?

Whoever wins, I think Mr. Trump is the more interesting candidate. I say that not so much because of what he says or does, but because of what the political establishment says about him. Clearly, The Donald has them quaking in their boots like employees who work for a company that has been acquired in a hostile takeover. Will their new boss give them all the proverbial “pink slip?” Democrat leaders don’t like Trump because he claims to be a Republican. Republican leaders don’t like Trump for the same reason. Early suspicions were planted when he self-funded his campaign and refused to take contributions from anyone. Thus, he violated the first rule of politics: money talks. Funding controls candidates like a choke collar controls a dog. Trump doesn’t wear anybody’s collar and that bothers the political establishment.

Then he employs advisors who are suspiciously out of the main stream of “K Street” consultants. Those people are expert at making and remaking a candidate’s image until any similarities between his public image and his private life character are strictly coincidental. And because such politicians are playing a character, they must parse their words carefully, rehearse their lines, and no adlibbing is allowed lest they go out of character. Enter Mr. Trump where what you see is what you get. To him, running for President is like making a sale and he has lots of experience with closing the deal. It doesn’t hurt that for years he has been a television star and displaying the same persona that can be crisply summarized in the words, “You’re fired.”

Time and again, Trump has done everything the experts say will spell disaster for a political candidate and yet he becomes more popular than ever. President Reagan was said to have a “Teflon coating” whereby almost all criticism against him did not stick. Mr. Trump seems to have a Teflon body. When he boasted that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and still get elected, nobody disagreed with him. But I noticed two things about the Trump campaign that I don’t hear mentioned in the news media.

The first is the potential for him to motivate the 50% of eligible voters who don’t vote. If Trump can get even a fraction of that number to show up at the polls on Election Day, the results could be a game changer. Traditional campaign strategy has been based on the safe assumption that the 50% who don’t vote will be consistent and continue to stay home. This has been such a given that it is truly alarming to think what might happen if such people double-cross the experts and vote. If that happens, Donald Trump will be given full credit or blame, depending on your viewpoint.

The second point that seems unmentioned is that Trump is serving as a kind of canary in a coal mine. I’m referring to the age-old practice of bringing a birdcage containing a canary into the mine shafts to detect odorless but poisonous gasses. If the bird is found dead, the workers quickly evacuate before being felled by the poison. The poor bird lost its life but saved many human lives. Trump is generally credited for tapping into the anger of millions of Americans. As the pandering statement goes, these are the people who “work hard and play by the rules,” but increasingly believe they are being screwed by their government. Curiously, nobody is accusing Trump of fomenting this anger. There is a consensus that the outrage is already there and Trump is the only politician to understand its cause.

They say that the rulers of ancient Rome used bread and circuses to keep the people distracted and to prevent them from rising up in rebellion against their autocratic rule. This worked for a while but eventually enough people became angry regardless of the bread and circuses and the great empire was brought to ruin. The big question of our time is how to interpret the anger of millions of Americans? Mrs. Clinton seems to suggest that more government benefits are the answer, that people want the government to take care of them. Mr. Trump talks about the trilogy of government waste, fraud and abuse, and that the only thing many people want from their government is to be left alone. Whatever the outcome in November, Donald Trump has served as the canary in the mines, alerting all of us of danger. However, this doesn’t mean that our leaders will heed the warning or that he will be elected.


Robert J. Inman, a Man Who Changed Everything

Todd Van Beck's picture

I was blessed to have been associated for many years with Robert Inman. Sadly, Bob died recently and I felt inspired to pen some thoughts about this great human being.

My memories of Bob Inman basically start the day I started working at the Heafey & Heafey Mortuary in Omaha. Whenever Heafey’s received an out-of-town death call and, say, the decedent was living in Bangor, Maine, and the family wanted to bring their loved one back home for burial, a call was made to Inman International Shipping. Even before I was introduced to Bob, I knew that what he and his company were doing was highly important, it was clear that they did an outstanding job and, most of all, his vision made the day-to-day life of people like TVB much easier.

Of course, this was in the mid to late 1960s, and to be sure I never thought that I would ever meet Bob, let alone build a friendship with him, but life has its surprises.

By the early 1980s, I was on the faculty of the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, and my job was clinical supervisor, which translated into overseeing the embalming lab, back in those days located in the back of the old famous CCMS building at 3200 Reading Road. And part of the clinical supervisor’s responsibilities was to take a position on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Embalmers Association, and so a board member I became.

I went to Columbus for my first OEA Board meeting and there in the room was Robert J. Inman. For a guy like me, meeting Bob was like meeting a movie star. I know I must have mumbled something stupid as I usually do when I am stressed and intimidated, but Bob was—as he always was—the consummate gentleman.

Our friendship began in earnest, and now that Bob has passed away, I look back at a myriad of life experiences and feel mighty thankful he was a presence in my life.

On top of my work with the great Ohio Embalmers Association, I got tapped in the late 1980s by Jake Dodge to present at the well-known Dodge Sunshine Seminars, and usually Bob and Marylyn would be in attendance.

Even when I bombed, Bob always had a good word, and his sincerity was so authentic that I actually left some of these public snafus with the thought that I had done much better than I actually had. Such is the power of the good word from one human being to another!

I remember one infamous Dodge Seminar when I was up on stage babbling on and on about the advances in embalming chemistry and out of the blue I blurted out the word “glutaraldehyde!” The minute I said it I froze, almost threw up, and looked in the back of the room, where stood Jake Dodge with his arms folded. How stupid could I have been? I’m at a Dodge meeting and am up there talking about a chemical from Champion.

Jake Dodge never said one word, and fortunately I was invited back, and for that I am mighty thankful. However, it was Bob Inman who really saved my mental health that day. Bob walked over, shook my hand and simply said, “This was a very good session, you did good.” I could have hugged him. Such was the kindness of Robert J. Inman.

Bob was certainly a master in the art and science of embalming and funeral service. He was truly in a league of his own, both technically and personally. I think that there are probably not many funeral operations worldwide who have not been influenced by the pioneering work of Robert J. Inman.

Before Bob dove into transportation and support service, each funeral home was basically on its own in shipping bodies both stateside and internationally. Bob revolutionized this entire system, and for that alone his legacy should never be forgotten in our beloved profession.

Years later when I was operating a mortuary college, I was finally able to attempt to return the graciousness that Bob had afforded me over the years. I invited him to be our graduation speaker, and we were able to give him an honorary degree. Of course Bob did a great job in speaking about funeral service, because he truly loved it, and that one fact alone usually makes all the difference in the world when people are communicating the values, purpose and benefits of our noble profession.

Here and there, now and then, just once in a while, I have encountered people in my life who leave an indelible impression, and Bob Inman certainly was one of those individuals.

Bob never talked down to anybody. He was patient, had at great wit, called it as he saw it and let his actions and devotion to his company’s mission do much of the talking for him. He never was condescending, always was a gentleman and when others made mistakes, he just passed over them and made people feel appreciated and respected.

I was sad when David Hicks told me of Bob’s death. I was not surprised, because I knew that Bob had health issues, but I was certainly sad. Our beloved profession has indeed lost an icon. Bob was one of a kind, and he certainly left the world of embalming excellence in much better shape than when he found it so many years ago as a simple trade embalmer in Cleveland, Ohio.

I believe this is what the sages over the centuries have called “professional immortality.”

As with all tributes, we could write endlessly about Bob’s impact, his worthy contributions to funeral service, his gentleness and humbleness as a human being and his deep loving devotion to his family and his friends. Knowing Bob Inman over the years goes down as one of the greatest privileges I have had in my life. Privilege is truly the right word to use.

Thank you, Mr. Inman. You fought the good fight, now the battle is won. Your memory will live on. You have attained rightful professional immortality in our beloved profession. Farewell. TVB

How Many Times Does Someone Need to See Your Ad Before They Buy?

datadale's picture

We all know that repetition counts. The first time someone sees your ad, they probably don't even notice it.

So, how often does someone need to see your message before they buy?

In 1885, a London businessman names Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising .
He was ahead of his time, especially considering how advertising now follows you around the web.
I think his insight was brilliant and absolutely answers the question on frequency.

The first time people look at any given ad, they don't even see it.
The second time, they don't notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they've seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, "Here's that confounded ad again."
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they're missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they've tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can't afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.