Winning Progressive Message & Strategy

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There’s Something Happening Here….

When I worked for Howard Dean, in the 2004 election, he used to like to quote Harry Truman in his stump speech:

“If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

The point, when Howard Dean said it, was that far too many Democrats were trying to be like President Bush, in 2003, when the President’s popularity was soaring, but Dean was offering a real alternative.  Yet, it could just as easily apply to the many Democrats, especially in the South, who became nearly indistinguishable from Republicans, not just on issue, but in tone.

Lo and behold, the slow burn of so called Blue Dogs completed in 2014, and voters voted for genuine Republicans, across the board.

Finally, it seems like Democrats are finally taking the right lesson away from these losses.  In the past, they always seemed to answer defeat by moving more to the right, assuming the country wanted conservatism.  But, in the past few days, it is becoming apparent that, finally, Democrats realize they need to offer a real choice – a progressive choice.

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MESSAGE MEMO: Defining “them”

There’s no doubt that Elizabeth Warren is person who elicits the most electric response from progressives. She speaks loudly and clearly on the economic issues that progressives most care about, and already is showing that her straight-forward, no-BS dissection of the issues has the power to move an entire caucus.

But this video, released by MoveOn.org in support of an effort to draft her into the presidential race, highlights her extremely smart messaging, and a template progressives need to remember, moving forward.

Right at the start of the video, she corrects a flaw in what, too often, is the progressive message:

“Government does work. It works really well for those who can hire armies of lobbyists. It works really well for those who have armies of lawyers. It works really well for those who can make big campaign contributions. It’s just not working for American families.”

Note in the “us” vs. “them” argument, who she frames as the “them.” It isn’t “the rich.” It isn’t even “corporations.” It’s those who use their money and power to further rig the system in their own favor, at the detriment of our families.

It’s a small, but extremely important, qualifier.

I was reminded of this piece, from earlier in the year, in which a former conservative voter explains why he constantly voted against his own economic interests – for the party “of the rich.”

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Mary Landrieu lost, and nobody cares

There are a lot of reasons that Senator Mary Landrieu got creamed in her runoff election, by Republican Representative Bill Cassidy.

But I think the most compelling reason is encapsulated in the reaction from Democrats, which is one big collective “yawn.”

Heck, even on the most active political blogs on the left, folks were left wondering if there was even a run-off election this weekend, because the blog wasn’t providing updates. When your base doesn’t care, you’re going to lose.

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