Excellent advice from political scientist Rachel Bitecofer (formerly of the Wason Center at CNU) on how Democrats should communicate and not just push back against Republican lies, hysteria, etc, but go on OFFENSE ourselves. Check it out!
P.S. I’d add that Democrats also need to SAY STUFF, be all over social media, don’t go silent or fail to comment on the latest right-wing insanity, and make sure you don’t just say it once but REPEAT IT over and over again. Unfortunately, that’s what we see from a LOT of Democratic organizations, including here in Virginia – silence. For instance, the state party and local parties should be pounding the crap, day-in/day-out, of the far-right crazies running in their localities, of the latest lunacy by Glenn Youngkin/Jason Miyares/etc. Why aren’t they doing that multiple times a day on social media (which costs nothing)? Do they think the “mainstream media” is going to cover this stuff (NOT!) or that people are just somehow going to hear about it (NOT!). Bizarre.
David Pakman: “As a political scientist, what do you think about the substance or lack thereof of what we’re seeing in the [GOP] primary so far?”
Rachel Bitecofer: “I mean…the Republican Party stopped being a governing party a long time ago and has really positioned itself as a grievance politics [party]. But what I would tell people is this, when we get to the general election, we know what their messaging is going to be – ‘Democrats are groomers, they want to turn your male child into a girl, they want gay people to sexualize your kids’. It’s going to be very rhetorically red meated, right? And so my argument has always been we got to meet that; we can’t meet propaganda with comms, we have to meet propaganda with an equally fierce propaganda system. So you know, to me, it’s about defining how those issues, these ‘culture war’ issues that Republicans have really centered the party around, how those are a threat to each individual voter’s own personal freedom…I call it the freedom, health, wealth and safety threat frame.”
David Pakman: “Can you give one or two examples of the language you would adopt if you were advising Democrats when it comes to some of these issues? How do you fight on some of those issues rhetorically?”
Rachel Bitecofer: “So the way that you do that is you want to make it hyperbolic – intentionally hyperbolic. And simple, right? We want to do nuanced facts and reason, so we we base our arguments in data, statistical arguments, job numbers whatever. And instead, what we want to do is we want to number one, we don’t want to be defensive. So if they’re attacking us on, you know, CRT in schools, we want to do a counter offense, right? We don’t want to be talking about how, ‘oh CRT is not really taught, oh it’s actually a legal theory, oh it’s this and that’. What we want to be doing is attacking the Republicans for decimating public education, for leaving our kids high and dry.”
David Pakman: “So now what if they respond and they go, ‘you know what Rachel, damn right we’re pulling money from public education because they’re teaching CRT’?”
Rachel Bitecofer: “Right right right. And then you say, ‘well listen, you know, I wish that you got we were half as concerned about when our kindergartners are blown apart by assault weapons’. So like, instead of letting them set the debate on that, I’m gonna push them, pivot [to] an attack and then be like, ‘ok, you want to talk about kids, let’s talk about all the dead kids that your inaction on gun control has caused’. I mean every parent in America is getting ready to send their kids back to school, and half of us are looking up armor-plated backpacks…That’s the Republican Party’s America that they want our children to live in, right? So if Republicans want to talk about protecting kids, it’s a conversation I’m happy to have. But I’m gonna push and have it on my terms. And it’s going to be about kids getting slaughtered at school by Republican policies.”
David Pakman: “Offense instead of defense, that makes sense.”
Rachel Bitecofer: “Exactly right, yeah….What I’m trying to get people to understand is…they know who we are, their strategy is based on us. So they know if they serve something up like…Democrats are teaching critical race theory in school, that we can’t help ourselves, we’re gonna spend two weeks on every talk show debating, proving that it’s not taught, debating it, talking about that. They know that we’re suckers for the substantive debate, right? So they lay the trap on a Sunday talk show and our Democratic senator or congressperson that’s usually representing us will go right into that conversation, right? And they have set the conversation up as a branding exercise to force us into that position on Sunday talk show? And so what I’m trying to tell people is no no no, when they mention CRT in public education, you should be attacking them for letting kids die at school – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Like make them regret mentioning the words children EVERY SINGLE TIME.”