Democratic Campaigning 1

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If political campaigning were building a house, the Democratic Party today would be at the stage where we paint the exterior and put up the drapes.

Unfortunately, we haven’t built a foundation. The house isn’t there. Too many of us haven’t noticed. It appears, in particular, that our leadership and various factions have not noticed.

My number one personal project right now is an attempt to get the Democratic Party, the whole United States Democratic Party, to shift mental gears and approach the public differently than we have been. We have to build a foundation. We have to campaign on that foundation.

We are getting beat. Most of the time. Almost everywhere. I have tried to express this in ways that will get the Party’s attention, but I have so far failed.

Rick Wilson, @therickwilson, Certified American Republican v 2.0 (post Reagan, pre Trump) has given me another tool. His words:

“Democrats are not good at campaigns. They’re good at some things in campaigns, but not holistically. In the last decade, we took over 1,000 offices from the Democrats, not because of voter suppression or redistricting, or other excuses.”

The Big Secret of 2018, Daily Beast, 06/01/2017

He also says,

The Democrats can’t beat something with nothing, and almost any plan beats no plan every time.”

But in that one he’s wrong. We’ve got plans. We’re drowning in our plans.

In the last decade they took over 1,000 offices from us. That doesn’t mean they won a thousand more elections than we did. It’s much worse than that. In the last decade Republicans won elections for 1,000 governing positions that we used to win but can’t win any more. And after they won those positions they kept them through subsequent elections.

It might appear from this that the Republicans ran over a thousand campaigns better than we did, but that’s not it, not at all. Republicans ran one big campaign better than we ran a thousand little ones.

Republicans campaign on one set of foundation concepts. We try to match and defeat that with ten thousand plans. We talk about the drapes and paint. Their foundation trumps our drapes and paint most of the time, most places.

Of course the house needs drapes and paint. I’m not arguing with anybody about civil rights, racial equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, urban rights, rural rights, working class rights, handicapped rights… I’m certainly not arguing about keeping the air breathable and the water drinkable. I entirely agree that people who work for a living ought to have a decent life, to be able to buy a modest house and a reliable car. I agree that people who are not able to work for a living ought also to have a decent life. All those messages are not working. They do not define our foundation. What is our foundation as a party?

All those things we want to do, what do they have in common? What ties them together into a common thread?

They are government actions. We want our government to address problems that bother everyday Americans. We want a government that works.

The message we are competing with is, “Government can’t do anything right and if it tries it will screw you.”

Right now today a majority of voters over a majority of America believe that government can’t do anything, shouldn’t be allowed to try, and will screw them if it does. It is a bald faced lie. Our Federal government has worked every time we’ve tried it. We can prove it. But we’ve got to talk about it. Until we make voters believe that government can help them we won’t get the chance to prove it.

Good government has made Americans’ lives better since the beginning. Lousy government fails to do that. The reason so many Americans’ lives suck today is because Republicans are lousy at government. Period. That’s it.

Government is the referee in the game of life. No American would want to see a Super Bowl without a ref even though they’ll yell at him. It’s ok to yell at the government, too, but they’re necessary to make the game fair. Right now it’s not.

Among other immediately obvious things that government brought us and still operates today: Interstate Highways. The GPS in your smartphone. The water Americans in the Desert Southwest drink and shower in. The water that made the farms in California’s Central Valley possible. The industrial waterways that haul America’s biggest most valuable freight for the least money. Space flight. Radar and Air Traffic Control for absolutely every commercial flight in the country every day. The Internet. Don’t try to tell me that the government can’t do anything.

We must hammer on the fact that the only reason the government can’t do anything right anymore is because the people running it don’t want it to. And Republicans are running it. Government can make your personal life better, no matter where you are in America. Let us show you how.

To do that we have to remind Americans about every fifteen minutes that Congress runs the country. Because Republican Congresses have been hiding behind Democratic Presidents since Newt Gingrich declared war on civilization. They’ve done an incredible amount of damage.

Whatever your personal pet issue is, if you are a Democrat or any American who is tired of being governed by Republicans, that issue can best be solved or addressed by government. So hold the thought of your issue, and focus on taking back the government. And the way to do that is to talk about governing in the broadest, why-what-how sense. Because, yes, that is what the Republicans talk about. They tell people that if Democrats get elected America will have a functioning government and it will ruin everybody’s life.

We have to sell one idea: having a functioning government will make your life better. Having a crippled government makes your life worse. Then we let the Republicans convince people that we’ll create a functioning government.

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One thought on “Democratic Campaigning 1”

  1. Outstanding essay! To take the sports analogy one step further. Government not only functions as the referees, but the rules committee as well. Baseball would be a much different game with 3 balls for a walk and 4 for a strikeout – way more offense. Similarly with football, if offensive lineman could hold at will giving QBs all day to throw, scoring would double.

    Republicans have tipped the rules in favor of management over labor, business over the environment, rich over poor, etc.
    Better rules, better refs, better life – Elect More Dems.

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