Daily Dose: What’s The DNC Thinking…Because It’s Definitely Not About Progressive Values


By Scott Wittkopf
Frame For The Future (9/1/17)

We learned today that the Democratic National Committee reported “abysmal” fundraising numbers:

“The $4.7 million it raised in April was the lowest for that particular month since 2009. The $4.3 million raised in May was the worst for that month since 2003. And now the $3.8 million raised in July is the worst for any month since January 2009.” (Washington Post)

As we head into a holiday weekend to celebrate labor and the sacrifices progressive people made so that we all can have a better quality of life, I pose the question that both state and national Democratic leaders must have an answer for now: what are you thinking, because it’s clearly not about progressive values. That’s part of the fundraising problem, why you aren’t inspiring people, and also a big part of why people have such a hard time understanding what it is Democrats believe. It’s been a long time since people instinctively knew what Democrats believe (in just one or two short phrases).

There’s a wealth of research that informs us as to what motivates and inspires people. Unfortunately, the people making Democratic strategy decisions continue to largely ignore the science. One such researcher is at the forefront of political psychology. Linda Skitka is a professor at the University of Illinois – Chicago, and her recent research, coupled with what we know from cognitive science, provides a look at what is effective:

1. Facts and issues are secondary to motivating people. Connecting with core values is the primary factor in terms of motivating people to action.

2. In addition to communicating core values to motivate people to act, a positive message that provides hope for a better future is stronger and more effective than a message containing fear of loss or impending disastrous consequence.

Consider every message and fundraising email you get from Democrats in the context of the above research in political psychology. There are virtually no progressive values based on empathy/caring for others present, and they consistently evoke a “fear of loss” if we are to lose to Trump/Walker/GOP/etc.

These types of messages and campaign strategies are not only anti-science, they are anti-progressive. Which brings us back to my original question – what are they thinking? Because it’s not about core progressive values.

Comments, questions, and ideas are welcome!

(Campaign consultant Scott Wittkopf’s Frame for the Future website is a resource for effective messaging. He has recently begun his Daily Dose column to look at current political issues from a values perspective. The columns are behind a membership pay wall, though Scott is generously making one column a week available to Commoner Call readers. You can learn more about his work at www.frame4future.com .)