From Wonkery to Winning: Question for a Wednesday

For more than 60 years Democrats have been winning the debates and losing the elections.

Political Philosophy and Economic Theory don't transpose to Politics easily or comfortably .

Abstractions and theories
don't lend themselves to practical and pragmatic political narratives, messages, or strategies.

The Republicans abandoned ideological purity,  consistency, and integrity long ago. They've divorced themselves from the "conservative principles" that were once the bulwark of the political thinking of those on the Right.

Instead, they've chosen to go with the only political strategy that has made it possible for them to win elections in the face of failed positions, policies and programs of their own making.

They lie!

They lie about everything from the Economy to Race Relations and everything in between.

They lie about gun control, taxes, entitlements, immigration, and climate change..

They lie in order to tap into the insecurities and fears of the average (white) American voter...

...And now they have the grand liar- in-chief in the White House.

The Democrats need to find ways to go from wonkery to winning before the points to be made in winning the debates become moot.

The trick is to do it it without resorting to the same sort of fear mongering and lies that have been the basis of the Republican winning strategy since Nixon was elected by the "Silent Majority" through the exacerbation and exploitation their fears and the promise of "Law & Order".

So here's the question :

Can the Democrats go from wonkery to winning without lying?

Views: 165

Comment by koshersalaami on January 10, 2018 at 7:35am

Easily. They have the wrong mindset, but the weapons are certainly at hand. It’s an endless frustration of mine how little they look at that question. 

When I lived in North Carolina, Gov. McCrory led a successful Republican effort to reduce funding for public education. It got to the point where the legislature eliminated raises for public school teachers who got Masters degrees. That’s right, they stopped encouraging education for educators. Had I been involved and had any pull, I’d have had bumper stickers printed up that said “Gov. McCrory, Why do you hate kids?” 

It’s not like the question was intrinsically dishonest. He was doing something that shortchanged most of the kids in his state, mainly for the benefit of wealthy residents. But Democrats don’t think like that, for one thing because Democrats only like to talk to each other. If they stopped devaluing the priorities of moderates and conservatives, used a bit of their self-proclaimed empathy, and figured out what part of what Democrats favor should make sense to moderates and conservatives - not for liberal reasons, but for ostensibly conservative ones, they’d craft a much more successful message. 

This is far from the first time I’ve said this, but Democrats have a long history of getting too squeamish to talk about general concerns that they actually address better. 

They don’t want to look materialistic, so they don’t address the idea that their policies are actually better for business than Republican policies are.

They don’t want to look militaristic, so they don’t address the fact that they take care of enlisted military personnel way better than Republicans do. Democrats are better at supporting the people who actually comprise the military better than Republicans are. Who really supports the military?

They don’t want to look like they’re threatening the separation of Church and State, so they don’t address the fact that Democratic policies are actually way closer to Jesus’ philosophy than Republican policies are - in fact, Republican policies often run directly counter to what should according to the New Testament be Christian Values.

They don’t want to look like they’re not open minded about social arrangements - which Republicans portray as threatening The Family - so they don’t address the fact that Democratic policies are way more supportive of The Family than Republican policies are. Supporting gay marriage and adoption support families, they don’t threaten families. Subsidized child care supports families. SNAP supports families. Maternity and paternity leave support families. Who is Really anti-family?

This truth isn’t limited to what I’ve just written about. What reduces crime better: better education and jobs for poor people or more prisons and longer sentences? And yet who is viewed as soft on crime? Where is the Democratic answer to this accusation? 

The secret isn’t lying, Ron. The secret is actually using the truth. 

Comment by alsoknownas on January 10, 2018 at 7:35am

Would it matter if one could take the path from wonkery to winning without lying, or at this point if those being lied to could tell?

The chance of it occurring is certain.

I think the cultural shift is immense, in place and not soon to change. It's like adding salt to a meal without tasting first.

Comment by koshersalaami on January 10, 2018 at 7:47am

I should add something that addresses something Ron said directly. Objecting to lies is one thing but objecting to fear mongering is quite another. Honest fear mongering is a legitimate political tool. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on January 10, 2018 at 12:00pm

I keep hearing the Republican Party is broken in two, the traditional assholes like McConnell and the former Tea Part and now just open KKK members. Well, the Dems, and it is not so diverse as Will Rogers said though that is how the ideas get hashed out, are divided into, as SBA says, the corporatism, many of whom are also assholes, and those who should be voting their best interests, but, were divided and conquered by the Southern Strategy, War on Drugs, etc.

We need to put together a Media campaign that includes Lee Atwater's recorded confession, interviews Bill Moyers and asks him what LBJ said to him, quotes H.R. Haldeman directly on what Nixon was up to ... and, the hard part, proves everything Reagan said was a lie- ok this won't work on the hoi polloi, so concentrate on hard examples of how Shrub the Lesser ran up the defect and ruined our standing in the world ... then start into some fun Trump parody commercials. Just a start ... but until the elite Dems stop hating the redneck dropouts nothing will change. Sometimes you got to dig deep ...

Comment by koshersalaami on January 10, 2018 at 12:47pm

I was about to say that we do that, not a single American will say “I was duped,” but then I realize you said the equivalent yourself. If I wanted to go back to Nixon, what I’d say is that the mid-Left’s failure to condemn the far Left’s excesses meant that the Right and a lot of the Center viewed the Left as Unpatriotic Flag-Burning Deplorables. That’s why McGovern got utterly butchered in 1972 - he represented everyone who was screaming at America at a time before the public got cynical. 

By the way, though I have no reason not to be down on the Democratic corporatists, even though I get what drove them there, you have one reason: the Hawaiian President was definitely a corporatist. 

I think the Democratic Party definitely faces its own division, but in this case I think it’s mostly the leadership vs. the membership. The membership is more comfortable with the issue stands of Elizabeth Warren than of Hillary, but the DNC is pretty much devoid of non-corporatists. Not that Trump and the current Republicans won’t unite the party because all sides hate them now. 

Comment by Ron Powell on January 10, 2018 at 1:26pm

@Kosh;  "Had I been involved and had any pull, I’d have had bumper stickers printed up that said “Gov. McCrory, Why do you hate kids?” "

Why didn’t you get involved?

Mylar bumper stickers are surprisingly inexpensive if you need only a few.

You could've  easily had a few made with a couple of placards and put a sticker on the car and a placard on the lawn....

As much of my potential income and career as I've sacrificed and lost because of racism and discrimination,  please don't tell me about your need for anonymity...

You either have the courage of your convictions or you don't. 

Trump is president in part because too many chose to remain anonymous and silent in the face of the loudmouth deplorables and assholes who will support and follow Trump straight to hell....

Comment by koshersalaami on January 10, 2018 at 3:27pm

You’re right about that. 

Comment by moki ikom on January 10, 2018 at 5:06pm

"Can the Democrats go from wonkery to winning without lying?"

Not when we have corporatist controlled media that is fundamentally addicted to advertising-driven profits wherein an existentially focused political party of professional prevaricators can demand and receive equal footing with truth-tellers; albeit referring to a BillaryClinton-loving political party as an organization of truth-tellers is to clearly be generous with the definition of truth-teller, so i use the description in a relative, not absolute, sense. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on January 10, 2018 at 5:42pm

Two commercials: 1- Lee Atwater, "You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” The tape exists, make the commercial. 2. Hillary Clinton, "Nine million people have lower-cost HIV/AIDS medicine because of the work of the Clinton Foundation and my husband.

Hire the best Millennial ad agency out there and repeat these ad nauseum, and keep making them, the source material is so easy to find it is ridicules, one second search one Google and there are the real people saying the real things. Don't want any corporatism, including Obama? (how else would he have got elected at that time, and what other ladder did he have at his disposal to climb, anyway?- not saying that makes it all right or the world fair, just, well, saying.) Then concentrate on Sanders and Left Wing celebrities. Run these things into the dark on every web and mobile site you can imagine, and even throw in TV a bit, for us codgers who could use a little memory jolt. And do it with force- serious people saying serious and accurate facts.

As an aside, Kosh is right as Atwater proves in how he evolves his message, the Far Left went too "Far" with busing, the Yippies, etc., and so handed Nixon the reigns and ruined the world. But, it was all because of the Draft, trust me, or not, I was there, staring at the ping pong balls. That will get you riled enough to get out in the street and fight with tear gas, batons and bullets ... what will it take for Millennials to do the same, just student loans? Seriously, suggestions, please. Racial issues are a start, the War on Drugs and the Wall are possible, what else?

Comment by koshersalaami on January 10, 2018 at 9:36pm

You’re not going to get draft level protests without draft level threats. Student loans will get protests but not life and death reactions. So, we need fear and we need anger. 

For fear, I’d go environmental, particularly because there’s a pretty stark difference between the parties. Really, we need to run two ads. One with an expert, even a non-meteorologist like Neil DeGrasse Tyson would do nicely, talking about the consequences of global warming in terms of bigger storms, shifting weather patterns, drought where the world now grows crops, rising sea levels, along with appropriately suggestive photos of Katrina or equivalent, dried out fields, flooding, whatever will make the talking graphic. Just a touch of an explanation of why global warming does this would help. And we need a second ad. We need to find someone who worked on the original research on climate change in the seventies at Exxon, because that’s where the phenomenon was first found. These guys worry about the consequences of emissions, so they work on formulas to reduce them. Sort of like one end of an interview, some guy relating what it was like and what they found. That would give the message credibility. 

For anger, we go economic, and here’s how we do it. We interview an appealing man, in his twenties or thirties, married with kids. He’s working part time jobs, multiple ones because no one will hire him full time to keep from paying him benefits, to keep his family afloat, and he talks about how hard it is and how some government assistance to families like this would help. Then the ad goes to why the government can’t afford to help - because they’re giving tax breaks to the rich. I’d go to inheritance taxes. “It’s not that we think inheritance taxes should be really high, but the Republicans don’t want us to tax inheritance at all, zero. So, whose completely tax free inheritance is making sure the government can’t afford to help this family?” Show photo of Don Jr. and Eric. 


You need to be a member of Our Salon to add comments!

Join Our Salon



Posted by Jonathan Wolfman on October 19, 2018 at 1:39pm 5 Comments

Little Red Rooster

Posted by alsoknownas on October 19, 2018 at 9:04am 9 Comments

The Media and the Midterms

Posted by Ben Sen on October 18, 2018 at 9:30am 6 Comments

Not Since 1916...

Posted by Ron Powell on October 18, 2018 at 9:30am 8 Comments

A Feature, Not A Bug

Posted by Robert Young on October 18, 2018 at 8:51am 3 Comments

Hitman Jesus

Posted by Safe Bet's Amy on October 18, 2018 at 8:11am 0 Comments

© 2018   Created by lorianne.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service