So far, leading Democrats including David Axelrod, David Plouffe and President Obama have been trying to sell us on some fear. Fear of what might happen if the Republicans regain control of Congress. Be afraid, be very afraid they say. Here’s a few examples:
David Plouffe’s Sept 7 election strategy email & video to Obama Organizing For America members (including me):
They have made it clear what their goal is — take control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and roll back everything we’ve accomplished so far. Of the hundreds of races, control of both chambers could come down to just a few key contests decided by a handful of votes.
Plouffe talks at length about how close these races are going to be and how they may be decided by “a sliver of votes”. He concludes the pep talk with:
What is the most likely reason someone who says they’re not likely to vote decides to vote? It’s because one of you talks to them. That human conversation… and they pledge to you that they’re going to vote. That’s the best way we can get someone who’s on the fence about voting to vote.
These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class. They drove our economy into a ditch. And we got in there and put on our boots and we pushed and we shoved. And we were sweating and these guys were standing, watching us and sipping on a Slurpee. (Laughter.) And they were pointing at us saying, how come you’re not pushing harder, how come you’re not pushing faster? And then when we finally got the car up — and it’s got a few dings and a few dents, it’s got some mud on it, we’re going to have to do some work on it — they point to everybody and say, look what these guys did to your car. (Laughter.) After we got it out of the ditch! And then they got the nerve to ask for the keys back! (Laughter and applause.) I don’t want to give them the keys back. They don’t know how to drive. (Applause.)
I mean, I want everything to think about it here. When you want to go forward in your car, what do you do?
THE PRESIDENT: You put it in D. They’re going to pop it in reverse. They’d have those special interests riding shotgun, then they’d hit the gas and we’d be right back in the ditch. (Laughter.)
I saw that [Alaska GOP Senate candidate] Joe Miller said that he would abolish Social Security if he had the chance and he is not alone,” said chief adviser David Axelrod. “This is akin to what [Nevada GOP Senate candidate] Sharron Angle has said in Nevada and also a number of these other Republicans. So, this could go one step beyond the policies of the Bush administration to something more extreme than we have seen.
In a sense, we are a victim of our own success, of the expectations that the president aroused, and the fact that we have gotten so much done,” Axelrod said, in attempting to explain the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters. “Everyone who has a particular passion says, ‘Well if you got that done why couldn’t you get this done? If you got health care done why couldn’t you get energy reform done? If you got financial reform why couldn’t you get something else done?’ The successes we’ve had have been a double-edged sword. I hope that at the end of the day, however, people will realize that this has been a period of enormous progress. I’m not begrudging people’s desire to get more done. There is a lot of pent-up energy and aspirations and all these things are important. But objectively this has been an enormously productive time and everyone who helped elect the president should feel gratified at what’s been accomplished because it wouldn’t have happened but for their efforts.
Perhaps this is where we have been failing to communicate. [A] large number of people [don't] believe that a Republican Congress would go back to the policies of George W. Bush, even though their own leaders have said as much in public. Pete Sessions said we want to go back to the same exact agenda that was there before this president took office. So our job in the next eight weeks is to make sure that people understand that, that they understand the stakes.
It’s clear the Dems, particularly the folks who helped get Barack Obama elected have their talking points and their concept in place — and I think it goes a little something like this:
If only we can make an ungrateful, clueless nation understand that the other guys are a lot worse than us and that we’re the only thing standing in the gap between a GOP that wants to rape the middle class and complete disaster — maybe people will get motivated to vote in November.
What an incredibly hopeless viewpoint. It’s true that history is not on Democrats’ side and that if history follows the usual pattern, the House and/or the Senate may come under Republican control. But history sure wasn’t on Barack Obama’s side when he ran for President. In fact, that looked pretty dang hopeless just on the face of it. But Plouffe, Axelrod and Obama sold us on Hope. A Hope that just might lead to some real Change.
I don’t think scaring people is going to get them into the voting booths. There is one force stronger and more powerful than Fear. And that’s Love. Plouffe’s message almost goes there — he sounds the most positive, upbeat and hopeful of the three. He’s getting there with the notion of “that human conversation”.
Dems up for office with the president leading the charge must adopt a strategy based not on fear & hate of the other side (which is the Tea Party’s message, e.g. Barack Obama is a socialist muslim who wants to establish death panels) but on love. That’s the theory and here’s the practice. Create a compelling vision of the future of America. Talk about the good things that Congress and the White House have done to better American lives and tell us what you want to do next. Don’t assume everyone understands all of that already.
Stop talking about what they are gonna do. That’s the other side’s trick. Talk about the big picture — not just about infrastructure (yawn), but about helping America continue to be the greatest nation on earth — a place where if you work hard, you and your family can have a great life with a good job, a nice house in a safe neighborhood, good schools nearby, food on the table, clean air & water plus the prospect of world peace & a better tomorrow for their kids & grandkids. Deep down, that’s what everybody really wants. Hope. Plus the latest Ford truck, XBox or iPhone. Paint a vision of a bright future all Americans can share that expresses true progressive values. That’s how Barack Obama got elected. That’s how we took Howard Dean’s 50-state Strategy and made it manifest. Through ignoring the haters/pundits and keeping it on the positive tip, y’all. It’s the only way to defeat the darker forces motivating another group of fearful Americans heading to the ballot box.
It’s audacious as hell, I know. But it might just be our best chance to keep America headed in the right direction. It might just be our best shot at making history stand up and shout out like it did in 2008. That’s the human conversation I want to have with my friends and loved ones. How about you?
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
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