Republicans are trying to subvert democracy and steal elections, can Democrats make them pay a price for it in '22
I realize that polls say folks agree that democracy is in trouble. But do they care? Is it their number one issue? Probably not. People vote because of visceral issues that are immediate and tangible. “Democracy” just isn’t perceived that way. Inflation. Jobs. Schools being shut down. Industries like education and healthcare not having enough employees. Travel being a pain in the ass. Those are issues that impact people’s daily lives. For me, saving democracy is my number one agenda item because we can’t do anything else without it. But it takes a lot of logical steps to understand why that’s the case and Democrats suck at complex arguments. It’s only highly informed and passionate voters who a message about saving democracy will resonate with, and they are voting anyway.
I think you're right here, but your argument rests on official dems actually acting a certain way, and in the dem electorate thinking there's enough hope that their votes will make a difference. So one, how do we get the admin and senate to "get caught trying" if they won't raise the alarm? And how do we convince the dem voters that there's enough hope of saving democracy that they can be the active messengers about democracy to everyone they know, and that this will make a difference? I'm a part of messaging efforts around the country on this very issue, and the base is losing hope and energy. Also, "democracy" is a vague term needs to be translated into how "democracy" impacts peoples' lives every day (and not by Handmaid's tale memes).
Simple narrative: Dems do things for people, Reps do things to people.
First, “There is a Cheesecake Factory menu’s worth of Republican failings” is one of the truest and funniest sentences I’ve ever read. Thank you for that.
Second, I’m shocked that the headline on the paper every day is not “Republicans tried to end democracy in America.” Any ideas about how we get the media to focus attention on this?
It would be interesting to see what the youth poll results of the following question would be: If you responded that America is a democracy in trouble or a failed democracy, is it because: a) One party is passing state-level legislation and constructing other state- and federal-level plans to overturn legitimate election results, b) Any system in which the majority of voters selected a leader and representatives to enact an agenda, but the system doesn't allow for that to happen is broken, c) Two senators from the majority party can effectively block any legislation they want, even if 98% of the party wants to enact it, or d) Election results can't be trusted because there is widespread fraud in the election system.
Depending on the outcome, that would be a good guide as to how to charge young people up about this (or to let you know you're doomed, and to focus on the economy). But please don't let whoever is currently in charge of D messaging handle the job, regardless!
It is extremely unfortunate, but Biden has to tread carefully here. He ran on a platform of healing the nation, and he'll get pummeled in every part of the media if he rightfully and honestly calls out these R efforts, because the media has zero integrity, and he'll get accused night and day non-stop, and it's all anyone will ask Jen Psaki about, on why he's attacking R's and not healing the country. And even if he also rightfully starts by saying "I can count on Republicans like Cheney, Romney, Kitzinger, and some others do defend our democracy, but...." the media will start out with the headline "Biden praises the Republican party for defending democracy" or "Republicans are defenders of democracy, according to Biden". So, it's a tough challenge. He needs a messaging wizard like Dan and a speechwriter like Jon, here :-)
1. The phrase “performative neutrality” made my day
2. Wondering if the Harvard U. Institute of Politics and CNN asked the important follow up question, “Are you looking forward to the demise of democracy, a civil war or states seceding?” I would argue that not all of their respondents would say those are bad things. They may all think secession and civil war are going to happen and that, and whatever happens after, are just fine with them. Those polls, and any assumptions or conclusions drawn from them, may give a very incomplete picture of the actual mood of the country.
3. Dems need to fire whoever is doing their marketing and branding. Just like any other company that is losing the messaging war would do.
Thanks for this. No shit, I was literally talking to someone about running on this message Wednesday.
Two things that I want to mention here. I have not listened to a podcast, cable news program or read a mainstream publication lately that did not criticize Democrats for not fighting hard enough against Republicans. This just adds to the overall message that Dems are failing when in reality the opposite is true. They are not winning the message war, but are winning in terms of doing real world good stuff for people. And this is the second thing... the Republicans know this so they continue to dangle the shiny objects and the press follows the shiny object... every single time. In defense of the press... there is just so much out there to report on with the Republicans... but here is what they do not do... they do not praise Dems ... ever. It's just well they passed this American Rescue plan... but they could still do more and left out xyz. It's just maddening. It does not seem to matter what Dems do... they can't win the message war because doing good stuff does not sell. Outrage does.
As to the Dems that came out in 2020... that terror of Trump being president is gone and no one wants to re engage. The dem voters do not want to see what is happening. Republicans know this.
For a few months now, I have been fascinated wondering what in the world President Biden’s State of the Union address will be like. As he gazes out over the crowd, realizing that maybe a third of them are real or potential rebels and traitors, insurrectionists or their supporters, and that at the same time at least half of the Supreme Court would like to return our Democracy to the mid 19th century, what in the world does he say? How could he possibly not call out this threat to our Democracy? If he stands there and blandly recites economic statistics, well, write the country off. But if he is frank about speaking to this issue, then that blows it into the open. The media will obsess on the issue. The (mostly) obsequious Sunday news hosts will actually take it up. Media feeds on itself (see Clinton emails)
Fifty years from now, if we still have a democratic country, I think the judgement will be that Clinton’s emails were the most over-covered and unfairly covered issue of the 2016 election. The GOP somehow triggered that obsession. How do we drive the media to that level of obsession over, you know, the continuation of liberal democracy.
<cynical mode>No. It's the economy, stupid. You could have a gold-plated message with all the Democrats singing from the same hymnal and if inflation is still out of control, if the economic future is still uncertain, and if voters feel like things are getting worse (even if they're not) then it won't make a damn bit of difference. Most people vote their pocket book. They feel largely powerless and will vote against the sitting government, regardless of ideology, if times are bleak. Democracy is a an intangible concept. Meat. Bread. Gas. Jobs. Standards of living. These are what motivate people, so build a narrative that focuses on what Democrats have done and are going to do. And couch that message in terms of vision, not policy.</cynical mode>
I honestly think the message is good with center and left folks who follow politics. What's happening is scary. I'm just afraid that it's easily deflected as some combination of hysteria and politics. Win on the things that people care about, then spend the political capital fixing things that people should care about.
I think a lot will depend on the January 6 Commission and the "proof" they can show, the names of Republicans involved in the attempted coup.
Who were the Republican congress
people and Senators involved?
Personally, I feel DOJ has to move a little faster to prosecute those held in contempt of congress. Bannon's what?
July of 2022? Yet he's still running his
mouth, covered by the 1st amendment.
Tweeting out your useful analysis, Dan: https://messagingskunkworks.slack.com/archives/C02MUTHL1K6/p1639365612346700?thread_ts=1639359747.343200&cid=C02MUTHL1K6
I believe that the only thing missing from this piece is a way for the Democrats to convey their message (whatever it is) in an effective way considering the bias of the media. Delivering their message via conventional press and outlets that are only reaching the voters they already have is clearly not effective. We need a huge push in that area with the purchasing of media outlets to reach a larger audience with a hopefully more "forceful" message. I would also like to see the Biden administration address this in a stronger way using many of the talented, visible and well-liked Democrats already in office. We need seven more "Pod Save America" type programs and a hundred more "Politics Girl" podcasts but we also need those to be disseminated in a more widespread way.
I’m not communications whiz such as yourself, but why do reporters ask non-impactful questions, besides a willingness to ask the question? Is it something reporters are trained to do because they only have a few seconds to get an answer?
I always think of Manu Raju ambushing Manchin before he gets into his car to ask him some form of “Are you willing to change the filibuster rules?”
It seems like an effective line of questioning would be “Do you have any thoughts about Senator Warnock’s remarks about the bipartisan history of not allowing voting rights for persons of color or women’s suffrage?” or something along those lines.
First, the prescription offered is spot on. Dems must run on saving democracy. My inner cynic would add "because they can't run on their record."
Addressing that, Dems have to stop with pointing to the bills that have been passed thus far and saying "don't worry, things will soon get better". To working people struggling to make ends meet in the here and now that comes off as dismissive and condescending.
On top of that, the Administration do doesn't have a whole lot of credibility to work with. They lost much of what they had with a series of unforced errors "Afghanistan will go well", "Inflation is transitory", and "Vaccination by itself will end COVID".
I for one am not going to run around arguing that the emperor's clothes look sharp right now.
I do not understand how the apparent strategy, grounded in playing ostrich while fascists brazenly deconstruct representative democracy, can work. Worse, Democrats ploddingly try to get bills passed without making crystal clear every fucking day what will happen if they don't get passed. They don't have Manchin's and Sinema's votes. And their apparent strategy is to assume they'll get them in the nick of time to save democracy. Just like they assumed vaccination would end the pandemic. Plan B? Who needs a Plan B when Plan A is a sure thing?!
People are concerned that we will end up in a civil war? We already are. Republicans will fight it nonviolently for as long as we let them. The only question is whether when we finally actually try to stop them, will they have the resources to succeed violently.
January 6 HAPPENED.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Because the second time might be too late.
'A danger to democracy' is a great slogan, easy to remember and spot on.