Politics

Democrats are getting hammered. And the excuses are flying. The “we’re losing less badly than before and besides it’s a Republican district” rationale for losing congressional races is a consolation prize where consolation is meaningless. In politics, all that counts is winning. And until the Democrats get some checks in the ‘W’ column they are irrelevant.

What do Democrats stand for? What’s their reason for being? They are against Trump – because Trump is a bad man. Who probably owes the Russians money. And he tweets a lot. And lies. And hires his kids. And has a sub 40% approval rating.

Whatever. Trump’s base does not care. Liberals already assume that Trump’s villainy knows no bounds. And the constant harping on Trump doesn’t give the folks in the middle a reason to come out for Democrats. My first piece of advice is that, beyond the occasional reference to his legal troubles,  liberals should essentially ignore Trump. If nothing else that would spur him into even more self-debasing tantrums.

The Democrats are great thinkers. They agonize over whether they should be more mainstream or more liberal. Should they try to regain their standing among the white working class or should they energize the left-wing base? My second piece of advice is that they stop thinking.

Every group has its unique issues, but all groups want to have economic security, the chance for advancement and a better world for their children. And thus my third piece of advice, it’s the economy stupid. If the Democrats were to plant their flag there they could prosper. It is all in how they frame the debate.

Take global warming. Republicans have done well in throwing doubt on the science – making it seem as if climate change is a UN plot or a Chinese hoax. And should you accept the science, the Republicans have made the case that doing something about it would be an economic calamity.

Democrats have reacted by calling science-deniers stupid and casting aspersions on the intelligence of people who give them a listen. But it’s hard to win a man’s vote by calling him an idiot.

Instead, Democrats should focus on the jobs alternative-energy creates. Let them ask why the Republicans are stifling job growth and why they want all the benefit to go to the Germans and Chinese. Let Democrats extol the genius of American business. Let them bang on about ‘unleashing the creativity of the market’ as Republicans always do when they need an excuse to give the rich more money.

And while they are at it, give healthcare the same treatment. Here are the Democratic arguments. Access to healthcare unleashes people to be entrepreneurs. It gives people economic freedom. It stops health expense bankrupcies dragging down the economy.

Let’s use the $15 minimum wage as one more example. Democrats must talk about how small business owners profit when people with a living wage go out and buy things. Who wouldn’t benefit from more money in the community?

And here’s my fourth piece of advice. Democrats need to change their brand. Their cardinal sin is smugness. They pride themselves on being better educated than the poor dumb hicks who insist on voting Republican – despite it being against their best interests. But what Republicans give their base is a sense of worth – and identity. And that counts.

Further, Democrats do little to dispell the image of liberals as white wine swilling, quiche eating, bicoastal elite – ivory tower denizens with the patronizing ‘we know what’s good for you’ schtick. They don’t need celebrities campaigning for them. Breaking bread with Barbra or Leo never created a job. And it makes the star gazers seem indifferent to the day-to-day life of paycheck-to-paycheck Americans.

So here’s my fifth piece of advice. Get authentic. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are by all accounts brilliant in managing congressional Democrats. But they are dismal as the Democrats’ national face. If they have to have a Californian and a New York Senator make it Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand isn’t scared to loft a few ‘f-b0mbs’. She has a history of it. No focus group, poll-testing her feelings – she comes by them naturally. And Kamala Harris is fresh, smart and has momentum.

The Democrats need credibility. The Republicans keep handing them good field position, only for them to fumble the ball. Liberals should win on health care, wages, predatory lending, taxes – on a raft of issues that affect the finances of the majority of Americans. But they wander off into pointless jabs at the ‘big bad Republicans’ and their tonsure denying mouthpiece.

Bernie Sanders showed the way. He kept talking about economic fairness and opportunity. And people went mad for it. I’m not here to critique the 2016 election, to refight the Bernie/Hillary duel. And any liberal who does so is wasting their time. I am just saying that in 2018 and 2020 the Democrats would do well to attack down the path Sanders blazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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