Sunday, December 16, 2018
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Republicans Telling Republicans: “This Year, Nation Ahead of Party”

This is the second half of a piece of which the first half --  "A 'Vote Democratic to Save Our Democracy' Tour (by Prominent,...

Steyer’s Right, Pelosi’s Wrong: Trump’s the Main Issue for 2018

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has launched a campaign to get President Trump impeached, says that Democrats, in the upcoming elections, should focus on the...

Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Twelve, An Epiphany

Welcome to the end of this twelve part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. Thank you for reading; you've made it to the final one! Check out the past entries here: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. Day Eight, Swing Voters. Day Nine, 2021 Redistricting. Day Ten, Independent Redistricting. Day Eleven, A Diverse Future. At the end of this diary is a poll on tomorrow's special elections, don't forget to vote!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

Gold, frankincense, and myrrh?

Keep the gold, pawn it off for cold hard cash, because on this Epiphany, the three magi would be better off bringing money, messaging, and mobilization to Virginia Democrats.

Campaigns are fought on battlefields defined by demographics, candidates, random events and other factors that may be out of our control. But once the battle has been joined, victory belongs to the side that brings the three M's: money, messaging, and mobilization.

Parallax in the Democratic Message

The Democratic grassroots by and large approved of the Obama messaging over the summer leading up to the convention. They were delighted that Obama finally took the offensive, pre-defining Romney as one of the greedy, unfeeling, and out-of-touch one percent. The base, however, was not the principal target of the message; it was the "undecideds," and one part of it was intended to convince the swing-voters that this election offers a crucial, clear choice for Americans, that the election is about much more than "the economy." So far, based in part on meeting voters in the field, I believe that message about the nature of the choice is not completely hitting its mark. That is not to say that it does not sound good, or that it does not resonate with the base, which, from its point of view, finds it convincing and therefore on target---- but that is preaching to the choir.

The real target, the non-base "undecideds," are not quite getting it, the real nature of the choice. Most of them are bumbling along, uneasy about the economy, thinking (even if they voted for Obama in '08) "where's the change?" and "Obama's had his chance, maybe it's time to let the other guys have a turn." The message of "we're on the right track, we need more time," and claims that the Republican agenda is not only socially extreme, but also a re-hash of the very policies that caused the recession, is not sticking in any significant way; it sounds weak. The idea that, in this election, we will be making a crucial social-political choice is not on their radar, much less that democracy itself is on trial.

Election Defection: Re-Alignment, Ideologues, and the Message

Democrats, especially progressives, are undergoing an agonizing re-appraisal since the recent mid-term election.  As always, the pundit class and the permanent Inside-the-Beltway Party are quick to tell us what to do: Democrats must move right, become more like Republicans---- and, as usual, they are dead wrong.  I believe, based on exit polls as well as the results of who won and who lost, especially among the Democrats, that what we are seeing is the on-going internal re-alignment of the American two-party political system into a more ideologically based division, as well as the continuing encroachment of corporate political power, which is modifying our quaint republic, historically based on representative democracy, into something new, which I call "corporate feudalism." The challenge is, how are progressives going to deal with these two situations, and the answers do not include becoming Republican Lite.