Democrats: Is there a better story other than ‘POTUS IS A BUFFOON’?

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Whether you like POTUS or not the only way to change things is at the voting booth.

I’m growing tired of my progressive friends espousing what they despise about our sitting president.

Yeah, he’s a womanizer, disrespectful of people different from himself, a pathologic liar and otherwise a dastardly dotard – not to mention his staff members.

But those are given.

In which case, why rehash all that day-in and day-out?

Democrats have no identity, let alone a story boiled down to an elevator speech.

It’s like arguing that cigarettes cause cancer. We all know that. Even the tobacco companies believe it. It’s printed on every cigarette pack. I won’t even get into the “it was the Russians” or “it was the electoral college” or any of the other red-herring issues. The Trump campaign was just a little smarter, but I digress.

Why waste time, words and energy?

Every anti-POTUS comment translates into a free ads for the sitting president that energize his base even more. POTUS stands for “Making America Great Again” but his roadshow casts that in a different light. Witness his recent whistle stop in Montana.

If you’re not in favor of making America great again, what do you believe?

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As of June 2018, this map shows there are 90 competitive districts (brown). You can rest assured that the Republicans are out in force.

Here it is 2018 – the midterm election cycle – and there is no coherent message from the Democratic Party.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is trying to reinvent herself; Elizabeth Warren is on the stump; I still get emails from Bernie. But it’s the same old anti-POTUS schtick.

If I’m wrong on this, please set me straight.

Sure there are candidates who have this figured out, like MJ Hegar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez running for congressional seats in Texas and Hawaii.

Based on Hegar’s video, I put down $5 and am following her congressional race. No facts and figures cluttering up the really great story.

The map on the right shows where the contested districts are located. If you live in a safe district, like me in Colorado’s 2nd CD, send your money and pound the pavement for candidates who may have a chance turn the tide. In the fall of 2017, I spent a lot of cyber-time helping get Doug Jones elected. As an analog action I had pizza delivered to volunteers in Huntsville.

There’s a lot a volunteer can do from afar.

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This is a 1980 Ronald Reagan “Make America Great Again” campaign button from my collection.

Republicans are really good at principled messaging. I think it was Ronald Reagan who originally coined “Make America Great Again” slogan and articulated what people feel in his famous “morning in America” ads.

Obama took a page out of the Reagan playbook, with his “Hope and Change” campaign. He was a very principled, retail politician. Unlike his Democratic predecessors he told stories rather than spouting facts and figures.

I picked up a book called “The Political Brain” by Drew Weston. The book shows how a different view of the mind and brain leads to a different way of talking with voters about issues that have tied the tongues of Democrats for much of forty years—such as abortion, guns, taxes, and race. You can’t change the structure of the brain. But you can change the way you appeal to it.

BUSH DUKAKIS DEBATE 1988

Michael Dukakis was unable to recover from his non-principled responses during a debate with George HW Bush.

In 1988, Mike Dukakis is asked during a debate if he would favor the death penalty for a rapist if he assaulted and murdered his wife, Kitty. His response wasn’t about how horrific the crime is, or how he would feel or his wife’s anguish, he responds with the data show that the death penalty isn’t a crime deterrent.

Sheesh.

Republicans have boiled down Democrats to “tax and spend liberals.” That’s a throwback to the 1932 New Deal and the 1965 Great Society. Democrats haven’t gone on the offensive and come up with a four-word stereotype for Republicans.

More recently, NeoCons call progressives “libtards”, a term that has largely gone with no response, but a term that galvanizes their base.

democrat republican stereotypes

Despite the stereotypes, Republicans have a better story.

When I engage in a conversation. I’ve thought about a principled response and say something like,  “I stand for strong family values – a safe home to raise kids; a strong neighborhood and excellent schools.” It’s usually the end of the conversation.

Restating this in a non-principled jargon-laced light, “I stand for marriage equality, affordable housing, community policing and a low student – teacher ratio.” This would cast me as pro-gay, handouts to poor people, anti-gun and pro-teacher unions.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these stances, but based on the Political Brain, voters will better relate to a candidate based on emotions rather than policy and data.

One of my hobbies is collecting political campaign memorabilia. Here are a few slogans I think are principled. I’ve surmised that candidates who include references to themselves have lost more times than those with visionary slogans. I’ll list them without election year or candidate:

  • Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity
  • Peace and Prosperity
  • Making us Proud Again
  • Prosperity and Progress
  • Believe in America

Now what?

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Forget Trump, Hillary is the big GOP unifier

donald-hillary-billThe three men in Hillary’s life right now will be nothing but trouble until she can get them in line. I, like Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich, am Feeling the Bern until I can no longer.

Bernie can’t win. Why doesn’t he quit?

The better question is why doesn’t Hillary adopt some of Bernie’s tenets before the convention?

As long as Hillary keeps wearing the blinders, her path doesn’t get any straighter.

Bernie is sticking around to nurture his populist movement. So far, do good, but I thought Occupy would get traction, but turns out Occupy morphed into Bernie.

Hillary, likely, is betting Bernie, like Occupy, will be irrelevant. His followers have zero chance of changing Wall Street.

Trump is showing his campaign hand. He’s going after Bill. I’m pretty sure, he’s dis-entombing Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and others we might not have known were hidden in the crypt.

It’s gonna get ugly.

Hearsay, innuendo, made up stuff, the whole shebang.

The political pundits are dancing around the issue, bracing for the onslaught. Hillary is ignoring it.

Then there’s the email thing. I don’t agree the latest reports are a rehash. She’s tried joking it off, ignoring it, sending Claire McCaskill to run interference, even apologizing.

She can’t shake it. It keeps popping up in the tabloid and ‘legit’ news cycles with click bait headlines of all kinds. She isn’t helping her cause.

gennifer-flowers-monica-lewinsky1It’s gonna be uglier than any campaign I’ve seen before, which isn’t saying much since none of them have been this gossipy and personal.

This seems different than Nixon’s lying, cheating, and stealing, but campaign 2016 is being treated as if it’s the same as politics as usual though.

In fact, many of the Hillary supporters I know, at least who I read on facebook, say something to the effect, “Well, the Clintons have baggage and have had their clocks cleaned for 25 years or more, and have emerged relatively unscathed – so, blah blah blah?

I don’t think the election season will play out like typical politics.

Hillary just said that Bill is in charge of job creation. He’s officially fair game assuming Hillary finally gets enough delegates and she’ll have to accept not only his successes but his less successful actions.

Trump may have a 70 percent disapproval rating among women voters but he’ll prove his detractors wrong by being one of the biggest supporters of women when he continues to pile on an abusive Bill Clinton.

Hillary needs to own the violence against women narrative and along with it, solidify the electorate behind her story. So far, she doesn’t really have many stories. She’s campaigning on her political savvy – which is diverse at the state and federal levels and in the community. There’s no doubt she’s smart and experienced.

Without a good narrative, her political experience and knowledge will go the way of Mike Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry. These three also campaigned as highly experienced statistics-spewing policy wonks and ignored the simple Republican story lines against them.

dukakis-hortonDukakis didn’t respond to attacks about being weak on crime and Willie Horton. Al Gore couldn’t shake Bill Clinton nor did he have any answer to the “fuzzy math” comments by Bush 43 about his Medicare lock box  that couldn’t get any traction a month before the election. Kerry ignored the “Swift Boat” smear campaign and allowed George W. to paint himself as an “ah, shucks rancher” when he and Kerry both shared the same upper crust pedigrees.

What if Hillary said something like, “You know, it’s no secret that my marriage has had it’s share if problems, maybe like yours. There were times I thought my husband was a big SOB there were other times when things were great. I’m not proud about how my personal life went down like an episode of “Scandal.” Bill was impeached, he’s had a tough hill to climb. I have to tell you our entire family paid for his screw ups, and we moved forward.”

Victim blamers ask, “Why did Hillary stay?” as opposed to “Why didn’t Bill change?”

Well, Bill got a loud wake up call from the public-humiliation perpetrator treatment program almost lost his job and that was that. Hillary is putting him in charge of job creation. I did think his welfare to work program was a good one. The same could happen with a new look for incentive-based Medicaid.

Trump’s misstep about his “Bill strategy” is blaming Hillary because she “enabled” hom to philander – he leaves a lot of subtext there without having to explain. That will back fire except among the men and women who believe that women should be subservient.

So far, Bill has been brushing Trump off like lint, but his message should be the same. Something like, “Well, Anderson, we had some rough patches. They were all caused by my stupidity and it really messed up our family, in fact, I don’t know if it will totally heal up.

“We’ve gotten through it. Chelsea has a family of her own now and being a grand father has really put things into perspective. Hillary could have sent me packing, but instead we decided to work things out and I can’t say that’s been easy, but we support each other 100 percent now and want to get down to being responsive to the American people.”

What about Bernie.

He’s not going away anytime soon. He has a pretty good chance to win the rest of the states, including California. Lucky for Hillary, she has the super delegates mostly in the bag come June 7th.

If Hillary wants Bernie to go away, her campaign needs to start capitulating a bit. If it’s viewed as a zero – sum game (we won, so go home) there will be a bunch of disgruntled Bernie supporters, myself included.

Here’s how I would mansplain her strategy.

What if Hillary called up Bernie and said, “You know Bernie, you’ve raised a lot of good points over the past year and figured out how to harness that grassroots energy particularly among young people. To tell you the truth, I’m not so good at that.

Buffett Gates“You’re right, I agree with you about figuring out how to keep money out of politics and I’ve been a little to complacent on that and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for me to deal with the big banks and Wall Street after the PAC that’s been supporting me has accepted all that money. I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but apparently it is.

“But you know what? They’re going to have to cry in their beer when I’m not with them. I’m also okay with raising taxes on the upper one percent and they better get on board with that like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and others have about spreading out the wealth.

“So are we going to do this together? That means you’ll have to reign in your young horses and let them know we’re all in this together!”

It will take some doing, but she can win this thing. It’s not going to be politics as usual.