Cadillac commerical-stuff

There’s a new Cadillac ad that has some conservatives and progressives sniping at each other. That’s right. Cadillac is back in the national discussion — sort of — just by virtue of making a television commercial that some people hate and some people love.

Watch the one-minute spot for yourself below and see what you think. The character in the commercial — who drives a fancy new Cadillac electric car — talks about how Americans work harder than the rest of the developed world because it helps us get all the “stuff” we have. He obviously thinks this is a great thing. He struts through his expensive house and ends up in his Cadillac at the end, touting the value of working hard the entire way.

Oddly, this has become a political debate, which seems odd to me. The progressives of ABC’s Good Morning America didn’t seem to care for it. You can see their brief discussion of it in the other video below (in a clip provided by a conservative organization called the Media Research Center). The organization’s NewsBusters site takes aim at the progressives’ distaste for the ad, and I’ve seen outraged people on both sides talk about it on Facebook.

Conservatives see the ad as promoting American values of hard work in exchange for material goods, and progressives see it as promoting American exceptionalism and working too hard. They’re probably both right, but which sides you see depends on which values happen to matter most to you.

I see it as a simple personal choice.

If what matters most to you is working enough to have the “stuff” that the man has, go for it. You might or might not ever do that well financially. You might or might not end up feeling at the end of life that the pursuit was worth it. I have no idea. But it’s your choice, not mine.

For the most part, I don’t have as much interest in “stuff” as the guy in the commercial has. (I’ve written about this several times, including here and here.) Other things matter more to me. I’d rather have more time to spend with the people I love and doing the things I enjoy, even if that means my house isn’t as expensive and I drive an older car. That’s my choice. It reflects my values.

That doesn’t make either position right or wrong. It just means different choices will be right for different people. There’s no reason to turn this into a political argument. Society should simply let people make the decisions they prefer to make and then live with the consequences of their choices.

I find the guy in the commercial smarmy, condescending and soulless, but that’s just me. In a free system, we can all chase whatever matters most to us. A nice Cadillac and a fancy house just aren’t that important to me.

I understand why Cadillac wants them to matter to you, though.