Winning Progressive Message & Strategy

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Republican Tax Plan Ad Concepts – Free!

One of the toughest parts of being in progressive political communications is that our side doesn’t have money like the other side, especially when it comes to off-years.

I can’t tell you how many incredibly good television ad scripts I’ve read that were never produced, because no group had the money to do it.

So it is, again, with the fight over the GOP tax bill. This time, though, rather than look at some scripts, sigh, and shove them away in the purgatory of the hard drive, I thought I’d post them here. Continue reading

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Trump’s Triangulation (and How To Not Fall For It)

Yesterday, leaders of the building trades unions went to the White House, to meet with Donald Trump.  Trump was just signing the executive orders to move ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, both projects that many of those unions support.

When they came out, the union leaders spoke glowingly of Trump, who just delivered two projects to them.  In fact, North America’s Building Trades Unions put out this release, which positively gushed about Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is, if nothing else, an avid salesman of himself.  He got what he needed – the unequivocal praise of unions, for the price of just two projects.

Meanwhile, he is pushing through a harshly anti-labor nominee for the Labor Department, opposes any minimum wage, and supports so-called “Right to Work” laws that will end unions. Nowhere in their press release was any warning from the unions that they’d oppose Trump on such moves.

Looking at the whole exercise, I was reminded of the 1990s, when Bill Clinton engaged in what became known as “triangulation.”

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Normalize Part of Trump, Normalize All of Trump

Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer, are already blowing it.

“Sounds good to me!” Schumer recently declared, regarding Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-proposed infrastructure plan.

At the risk of seeming to violate Godwin’s law, Trump isn’t the first authoritarian to propose massive infrastructure activity as the proverbial sugar to make his autocratic, bigoted medicine go down.

“At least he built the Autobahn,” Germans used to declare.

Call it the “it’s not all bad” playbook of authoritarians.  The reason why it works is quite simple.  If they can normalize part of themselves by giving people something they like, then everything about them becomes normalized.

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Gaming Out Trump Nomination is GLORIOUS

“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

– GOP Loyalty Pledge (Emphasis mine)

Any person running understands (or will soon understand) that there is no Republican nominee until after a vote at the convention.  Nowhere in this pledge (which every GOP candidate for President has signed) is there any promise to not attempt to stop someone from getting the nomination, on the convention floor.

Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus knows it.  Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and other seasoned politicians, running for the GOP nomination know it.  Did Donald Trump know it?

This is what makes gaming out the nomination, and general election of Trump so wonderful, if you’re hoping for the GOP to lose.  Should Trump head into the convention with a plurality of delegates, or even a majority, there will be that one, last-gasp effort to stop him.

Graham, Bush, Walker, Fiorina, Kasich, Rubio, and more, joining, behind the scenes with Priebus, Speaker John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, and more.  Then, caught off-guard Trump, Cruz, possibly Carson, joining with Tea Party backbenchers looking to oust Boehner and McConnell, ready to fight it out on the floor.

This is your 2016 GOP Convention, if Trump walks into the building with the most delegates.

A floor fight ensues. Multiple ballots.  Fights between states.  Fights between delegates within states.  Here’s what it would look like.

When all is said and done, a bloodied, battered, and bitter GOP leaves that building, either with a nominee who has managed to lose every Trump voter, and Donald Trump tearing up the “pledge,”  or a nominated Donald Trump who is now more angry at Republicans, than Democrats.

Under the first scenario, the GOP Nominee is a dead man or woman walking, without the support of Trump voters.

Under the second scenario, Donald Trump, who has shown he cannot let go of a fight, spends 2016 tearing into Republicans. From there, many Republicans fall all over themselves to create distance from a Trump campaign that takes every opportunity to bash the party.  And Trump, in response, fights with them, too.

Imagine Lindsay Graham attacks Trump.  Trumps slams him back.  Someone asks Senator Rob Portman (who is in a tight Ohio Senate race) about it, and he defends Graham.  In response, Trump calls Portman a loser who shouldn’t get votes.  You can see where this leads.

The Party would be running two completely disparate campaigns.

Trump would be running his campaign, completely separate in tone and policy from the rest of the party.

GOP HQ wouldn’t talk with the Trump campaign, and vice versa.

Candidates would be taken by surprise by Trump proposals, and get asked if they support or don’t support their nominee’s agenda, on the fly.

To quote Peter Venkman it would be “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

I don’t believe in trickle down economics. But I do believe in trickle down politics.  The chaos at the top would hurt the entire GOP ticket, all the way to the point that the party would be in danger of losing the House, along with the Senate.

Sure, yeah, Trump would also target Hillary Clinton.  But he won’t be focused on her, as she largely stays on the sideline, and runs a positive campaign of issues and ideas.  Given the state of the race, why should she engage Trump, outside of the debates?  Essentially, she would be running half-opposed. That’s a good place to be.

Of course, maybe none of this happens, and the GOP rallies behind Trump, and walks out united behind him.  Maybe they’re so on the same team that Republicans are jumping to defend him and stand with him, in the wake of any utterance that comes out of his mouth — from commentary on women’s periods to statements about Mexicans to God knows what else.

Maybe.  But I don’t think that’s actually a more favorable scenario, for the GOP’s electoral chances.