You’re losing. You lost to an inexperienced, incompetent, rude, megalomaniac that admitted to groping women without permission, made fun of handicapped people, and insulted veterans and their families. You keep losing to Republican nominees that physically attack reporters and contradict themselves shamelessly for votes. And you cannot figure out why.
A small segment of the hard-right Republican political class has been waging an all-out war on the democratic structure of our government, with the goal to dominate it permanently. This has been ongoing since Reagan, and has been openly waged since Gingrich shut the government down in the 90s. Gerrymandering, stacking the Supreme and lower courts with extreme conservative justices, the Republican Congress refusing to work with the Obama administration, and now the dismantling of policies and regulations designed to make politics more inclusive, this has been a long game by a small segment of conservatives that is slowly winning by diminishing the core fundamental concepts enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
As a progressive liberal, I can no longer watch you flail. We citizens have to stop this undermining of our democratic framework. But all you do is keep hammering me to add my name to useless, ineffective lists against this or that, and pester me for donations constantly. The same boring tropes are endlessly used over and over again, the same ones used for the last 20 years. Your ideas are tired, your message is stale, and you keep embarrassing yourselves with milk-toast antics like singing “This Land Is Your Land” to rouse your audience. And Republicans keep winning. How about a ragin’ round of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or “The Hand That Feeds?”
I have been in marketing for over 35 years, and you simply do not know how to choose, craft, and promote those messages that mean something to most Americans. Most Americans ARE center-left in their politics; liberal on social issues and more centrist on the economy and foreign relations. But for some reason you do not get that. You keep insisting that big government is the progressive agenda.
So, here is my proposal for revamping the Democrats’ messaging, and becoming relevant to the majority of American voters.
Don’t be the progressive party. BE THE PARTY OF PROGRESS. Lead to the future; focus on creating job opportunities in the economy by encouraging new economic sectors, and stop trying to save blue-collar jobs. You can’t. Corporate America is automating itself at a furious rate, and they will continue to fire workers when they can with no intentions of hiring them back. There is no possible way to re-train millions of laid-off workers in new economy jobs that include tech, science, engineering, and automation; these workers must shift to new service jobs. Our society is going to continue to lose jobs across all industries, and our government must address this by investing more in education and research. Government must focus on infrastructure such as building out highways, rail, fiber internet, etc., that create new jobs and start-ups through those investments. It must start a national dialogue on a guaranteed minimum annual salary for the unemployed and under-employed, subsidized through taxes on automation, technology, and robotics. A carbon tax that pays monthly dividends to Americans can be a part of the guaranteed minimum annual salary.
Give up on climate change. Yes, you read that right. FIGHT POLLUTION. Climate change is political, but EVERYONE is against pollution. We Americans were doing a pretty good job fighting pollution in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. We want clean water, clean air, green landscapes, pristine national parks, and highways free of litter, but we don’t talk about fighting pollution anymore; we argue over climate change. So how do we fight pollution? By promoting electric and hybrid cars and busses to reduce air pollution and smog. By expanding solar and wind power to stop drilling for oil and suffering through oil spills that pollute our waters and beaches. By hiring AmeriCorps workers to reforest eroded mountainsides and greenbelts. By promoting solar panels on homes and businesses to cut our electrical costs. By building bike paths and efficient mass transit. And guess what: that all helps fight climate change, without having to talk about it.
Kill Obamacare. Fight for HEALTH CARE, not health insurance. Obama was the finest president in my lifetime, and his Affordable Care Act is one of the greatest social leaps forward since the New Deal. But there are a LOT of Americans that don’t like Obama, and we need not get into the reasons why. They just do, and you’re not going to change their minds. So his name taints the breakthrough legislation that a majority of Americans have come to want. It is the law of the land RIGHT NOW. So fight for health care. Talk about MAKING IT BETTER. Why scrap something that is working, especially when it can be made better for more Americans? It is working: 20 million more Americans have affordable health care (NOT health insurance). Challenge American voters: why do Republicans want to get rid of health care that is working? They can drone on about taxes and mandates, blah blah blah, but most people DON’T CARE. They want to go to their doctor when they have to, and not fear the cost. This is a class issue; you do not need the 1% vote – you have the 99% vote if you talk to them about it in terms of having health care now, and the Republicans are trying to screw it up for the rich.
Put the single-payer discussion off for the future. Our society is going in that direction. With the wave of automation, AI, and robotics coming and throwing millions out of work, the US government is going to have to fund a way for people to have health care. It will happen.
The Republicans hammer on individual responsibility. It is their way to shrug off the societal responsibility to take care of those that can’t. They keep harping on the message that one shouldn’t need the government’s help if you are a responsible individual. That works when you have loads of money, and it is great if you don’t have to pay taxes to help or assist the less fortunate who, according to Republicans, fail because they are not responsible enough. This message works on Americans.
We know it doesn’t work in real life. Nonetheless, Democrats have to stop talking about the government coming to the rescue, and start promoting COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY. Politics is local, and Democrats need to focus on creating a societal environment of community responsibility, where we look after each other and ourselves. That includes managing local K12 and adult education, creating community health care systems, creating homeless shelters and food banks, promoting community based power and water authorities, and organizing emergency assistance as communal responsibilities. Communities are neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, townships, and states. This isn’t about government, this is about government empowering and assisting communities with these issues, bringing people together to be responsible for one another. Americans like to think of themselves as lone wolves, but we know we are stronger working with our neighbors, together. Most of us feel the pull of civic duty.
Democratic Baby Boomers – get out of the way. You’ve messed up enough, and you keep doing it. My generation has been consumed by greed and selfishness since the 60s, and it has affected our society negatively. Politics have been tainted with the dismissive rant that politicians are in it for themselves, and Baby Boomers (of all political persuasions) have done a good job making that true. Pelosi, Feinstein, et al, you’ve done a good job for the most part and can continue on, but let new leadership step up to the plate.
Let me illustrate how the old Democrats just don’t get it anymore; this is a new survey from Feinstein’s office:
What is your top issue that you want addressed?
What programs do you support to create more jobs?
Do you support or oppose the current efforts underway by Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”)?
When thinking about health insurance and health care in general, what issues matter to you most?
How should Democrats advance our values and agenda?
Are you committed to supporting Democrats and progressive grassroots programs in the future?
Yeah, all of that is pertinent – but the issues are just a laundry list of what Democratic politicians are thinking about. The whole thing is hopelessly didactic, dull as dirt, and doesn’t provide a true platform to learn what constituents are REALLY worried about. It is designed to show Feinstein that what she cares about is what we care about, and to lay the grounds to bug me more about donating. The wording is stilted, like how Feinstein – and most Democrats – talk about issues. I don’t care about having “access to health insurance” – I want affordable health care. I don’t care about you “working across the aisle” to “promote values,” I want you to get something done. What do I care about how you do your job – just DO it. Programs to create more jobs? Jeez, could those be more rote? How about mass transit that lets me get to a job across town easily and cheaply? How about funding research through state and community colleges that create new start-ups?
Certainly Democrats can have the zillions of web pages and position papers filled with agendas and programs you want to initiate and promote. But if you can’t talk about them in headlines, slogans, and Twitter feeds – no one will listen.
Finally, talk about Trump in a blunt, forthright way. When he lies, call him a liar. When he is rude, call him rude. When he mocks opponents, women, veterans, etc., call him childish and immature. You’re not going to change his supporters’ minds, but those that voted for him because they couldn’t “trust” Clinton don’t like his behavior. Don’t be mean, snarky, or vindictive, but don’t pussyfoot around and just tell it like it is. That is the single reason most Trump voters voted for him, because he said he tells it like it is, even though he lies constantly. But those conservative voters leaning towards the political middle will keep being embarrassed by him, and if they can come to trust the Democrats to tell it like it is, straight up, and with no waffling, they will listen more carefully.
I’m tired of talk about “fake news,” “alternate facts,” Trump, and Republican dirty politics. I want someone to be positive about the future, because right now it looks like it is going to suck. I want to hear about how society is going to be more inclusive, with more personal and economic opportunities, and that we can have peace in our cities and around the world.
- Be the party of progress, lead to the future.
- Fight pollution.
- Fight for affordable health care: let’s make it even better.
- Stand up for community responsibility.
- Make way for new leadership.
- Talk simply, truthfully, without malice.
- Be positive and optimistic.
Finally, please respect our Constitution, our laws, and most of all, our traditions and societal ethics. The dirty politics sully us all, and yes, maybe you gain a little advantage (pushing through lower level nominations) at first, but it always bites us all in the ass in the end (Justice Gorsuch). If you can’t defend the Constitution as is, our laws as enforced, and have an ethical stance for fairness, you shouldn’t be in politics.
Now, please start campaigning for real for the 2018 mid-term elections. We don’t need candidates right now, but the marketing, advertising, and messaging should BEGIN NOW.
A liberal, progressive, and proud American citizen.