By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (1/1/18)
In a Thursday [12/28] Morning Edition interview with National Public Radio’s David Greene, Jess O’Connell, CEO of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), addressed concerns that the party coffers are down to about $6 million while the Republican National Committee has banked some $40 million.
Greene asked about that money gap and how much of an obstacle that is for the dems running strong in 2018 mid-term elections. Acknowledging the money issue was real, O’Connell gave an upbeat assessment of the “Democratic ecosphere”, pointing to recent election results in Virginia and Alabama. Putting aside the Alabama senate outcome, where dems were playing catch-up to activists leading the robust opposition to accused republican child molester Roy Moore, the margin of victory was less than the write-in total which was fueled by republicans creeped out by the prospect of the likes of Moore representing the party in congress, even though Trump strongly endorsed the campaign.
In other words, if the candidate had been Trump’s initial choice, appointed incumbent Luther Strange, the GOP would have held that seat. Roy Moore proved to be a democratic party advantage.
A scary “Trump Bad. Send Cash” message is not an organizing strategy. It gives no ‘why’ for supporting the dems. I/we know Trump is a shit. The party doesn’t need to tell us that. What we need to hear is what the party is for.
O’Connell correctly credits the growth and vigor of grassroots and independent progressive groups being a boost to campaign efforts, but most of that has been despite of, not because of democratic party efforts and leadership. The Bernie campaign is Exhibit A in that argument, which was fueled by independents and financed by an average donation of $27. The movement could only be derailed by DNC sabotage.
There is a fascinating clip at about the 3-minute mark in the interview below where Hillary Clinton said of the Democratic National Party:
“I inherited nothing from the Democratic Party… It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. It’s data was mediocre to poor – nonexistent wrong.”
Hmm, makes me feel like a chump for all the money I have sent to the dems in the past: Just what the hell were they doing with that money? (The answer is, of course, as with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, pirate chests full of cash have been shoveled over to consultants who only concern themselves with numbing TV ads and glossy campaign post cards that keep recycling centers busy coast-to-coast.)
Greene reports donors are telling the DNC they need to “take a break”. O’Connell says the party has four goals to pry open those creaky checkbooks:
“We’re going to rebuild. We’re going to organize everywhere and early. We’re going to work on modernizing data technology, and we gotta’ win,” McConnell gushes.
Look at that list: Rebuild; Organize; Modernize; Win.
It’s okay as far as it goes but money is an issue, it is not the issue. The big one that is missing from O’Connell’s list and that her other four should be in service to, is:
Develop an empathetic values-based message of honest, active change worth supporting.
What the neoliberal, corporate dems (like the Hillarys and Ron Kinds) just won’t admit is that a scary “Trump Bad. Send Cash” message is not an organizing strategy. It gives no why for supporting the dems. I/we know Trump is a shit. The party doesn’t need to tell us that. What we need to hear is what the party is for.
And we need to see victorious dems actually stick to and fight for what they campaigned for, unlike the quisling rollover democratic Virginia governor-elect Ralph Northan who is going soft on state health coverage before he has even taken the oath of office. Fortunately, a newly elected socialist legislator is holding Northan’s toes to the fire of accountability.
Money is an issue, but not the issue
Yes, money is important to campaigns, but it is not the central issue as the state and national democrats will tell you. The central issue is having a honest, heartfelt message – a reason to support democrats. As the 2016 election showed, the status quo on both the right and left is dead; people loathe the political establishments of both parties and in their passion to serve the interests of entrenched, undeserved wealth and corporate power. Both parties have well-earned that hatred.
What democratic party leaders need to get and accept is that they will never have enough money to go up against the Republicans dollar-for-dollar; they will always be outspent. But there is an advantage they can easily exploit…
As popular as he was, FDR was consistently outspent by as much as 9-to-1 in his successful campaigns. FDR wasn’t afraid of the rich, in fact in the 1936 campaigned he noted:
“They are unaimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.”
FDR observed in that same speech, “Government by organized money is as dangerous as government by organized mobs.” Imagine if that was the message of the modern democratic party. (Listen to the full speech, linked below.)
More recently, Paul Wellstone raised barely $1 million against the $7 million of his two-term incumbent opponent, Sen. Rudy Boschwitz. Wellstone traveled the state in an old school bus proclaiming: “It’s my bus against his bucks.”
Rich but empty campaigns
Hillary Clinton’s campaign had many problems but money wasn’t one. As The Washington Post reported, Clinton had a total of $1.4 billion to spend. Trump had $957.6 million. Yes, yes, Hillary won the popular vote, but Trump took the upper Midwest and nailed the Electoral College and – sorry to say – won.
Hillary had a muddled neoliberal message partially dressed up in progressive drag. Trump had an anti-establishment, “drain the swamp” message that was – of course – a complete, over-the-top lie, but it was a message and it worked because it resonated with a helluva a lot of voters soured on both parties.
Heck, even in the primaries Hillary raised $807 million to Bernie’s $238 million and a strong argument can be made that but for DNC shenanigans and the suspicious Associated Press early call of the California primary for Hillary, Bernie could well have won the nomination and many – including republican analysts – feel he could have taken the White House. Again, Bernie had a message that outflanked big money. Especially Clinton’s Wall Street money.
What made the difference in both these examples was not the money, it was the message. A properly framed, sincere values-based message addressing the values, hopes and needs of the majority of the electorate is a huge campaign advantage that can whittle down – even negate – the advantage of money alone.
(Commoner Call column and cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
- Listen To What A Real Democrat Use To Sound Like: You’d have to eat a lot of peyote before you could even imagine a run-of-the-mill Wall Street ‘Third Way’ dem like Ron Kind saying anything like FDR’s message in this 1936 speech at Madison Square Garden. Link to 3-Minute Audio
Dems Restrict Voter Data For Washington Progressive Candidate Sarah Smith
TYT’s Cenk Uygur spoke with Justice Democrat Sara Smith about her campaign in Washington’s 9th District against incumbent Democrat Adam Smith.
Thomas Frank: Clinton & Obama Helped Make The Dems A Wall Street Party
The Real News (12/28/17)
On Reality Asserts Itself, Thomas Frank, author of Listen Liberal, says Democratic Party administrations allowed the big banks to run economic policy and create exploding income inequality – with host Paul Jay.
Instead Of Flushing Donations To Corporate Dems In Madison & D.C. Here Are Some Efforts To Support That Can Make Real Difference
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