Thursday, July 20, 2017

Some Advice For The Democrats

Time to bring back the spirit of George Norris, my home state's greatest leader

So today there was a big kerfuffle online today after a reporter claimed to have heard the Democrats' slogan for next year, and tweeted it. (That tweet was then deleted.) Because it was retracted, I am not going to repeat it, but it does seem to imply (and I don't doubt) that the Democrats are going to 1. still hire lame people to write their slogans 2. try to run on "jobs" and 3. try to be as middle of the road as possible.

All three are massive mistakes. The Republicans have done the best job of sloganeering, since they hire the best PR people to come up with PR stuff. Just think about how "right to work" has become the brand name for union busting. In the second place, "jobs" in the abstract is Trump's issue. The first thing you should do in any debate is to force your opponent to debate you on your ground, not theirs. If you let yourself be pulled onto the ground your opponent has created, you have already lost. And last, going to the middle of the road does not work anymore. Yes, it is very tempting to go to the center if your opponent is going to the extreme, but that formula is outdated. You need to get the base out in the midterm elections. That's how you win.

So what should the Democrats do? They should focus on health care and beat that issue into the ground. The GOP has created a massive self-inflicted wound for the Democrats to exploit. They have learned the hard way that there is a new American consensus on health care: to be remotely acceptable any changes have to expand access to care, rather than restrict it. The Republicans are on record supporting cutting off tens of millions of people from health care. Make them own it, hang it around their neck like a millstone and shove them into the political sea. James Carville has become a bit of a buffoon, but his "it's the economy, stupid!" approach was a brilliant way to nail his opponent on an issue where he was weak that the public also cared about more than any other. Right now that issue is health care.

And yes, Russia should be an issue too, but weaved with health care, as in "Those Republicans are so corrupt that they are letting Trump betray the nation just so they can take away your health care and give the wealthy a tax cut!" Admittedly, it might be hard to get the whole party behind single payer, but they can still easily craft a message based around social class and inequality. The basic message of "The Republicans want you to suffer so the rich can have even more!" is a winning message. The Russia stuff might not play as well with independents, but that's fine, since it will fire up base Democratic voters. Animus against Clinton in 1994 and against Obama in 2010 by grassroots conservatives led to huge midterm wins, it can just as easily work the other way.

Last, and most importantly, Democrats need to focus on the vote. That means getting volunteers to make sure people targeted by suppression can get the help they need to register. It also means bringing all those "resistance" folks into the party. There has been an incredible mobilization by both the left and liberals since Trump's election that has been truly bottom-up. The Democrats need to get these activists coordinated and make them want to be in the tent, especially those oriented towards Sanders. That is where more forceful messaging comes in.

Activists should be taking off work on election day if they can, driving other people to the polls. (I know I want to do that.) Turnout is key in midterms, and the Democrats have a political army that they can call on to get out the vote, if only they would just do it.

1 comment:

Terry said...

I sure hope you are printing this off and sending it to the Democrats. I'd help you pay for postage.