Earlier today, we looked at the Democrats' messaging problem. It inspired one of Blue America's superstar endorsed candidates, Jason Call, who is running in northwest Washington, to weigh in with his own ideas on the subject. Below is his guest post. While you're reading it, please consider what it will mean to have a deep thinker and activist in Congress instead of corrupt conservative New Dem hack Rick Larsen and how you can help Call replace him.
The Democrats' Real Problems Go well Beyond "Messaging"
-by Jason Call
This argument about Democrats’ poor messaging has always been a thing, for as long as I can remember. The Republicans have had Karl Rove and Frank Luntz to produce targeted soundbites that are red meat for xenophobes and homophobes, and they’ve focused on divisive topics like gun control and family values. It used to be all pure theatrics. The Gingrich-Bush era Republicans were happy just to fundraise off wedge issues, and very occasionally produce something legislatively to keep the base happy. And the Democrats have been happy to do their own red meat theatrics for their base also ("they’re going after Roe, give us money!")
For decades it’s been a team sports arena where the rank and file are divided, but the elites are for the most part united on behalf of their corporate donors (they call this bipartisanship). The advent of Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, and child rapist Matt Gaetz has changed the landscape. These people are serious about their xenophobia, homophobia and putting guns in the hands of children. They are serious about their Handmaid’s Tale vision for Gile…uh, America. Madison Cawthorn’s recent statements on the floor of the House about what he believes America is all about is unconstitutional and quite frankly terrifying. If these folks gain too much institutional power it will lead to civil war, I have no doubt about it.
So we’re not just talking about Democrats need to do something better with messaging so that they can beat Republicans. We’re talking about they need to actually be better (not just better than the GOP, but better than they currently are). That’s where they fall flat and lose. What are they actually producing that is going to improve (and I mean substantially improve) the lives of working people? We’ve got the PRO Act that can’t get past the Democratic obstructionists in the Senate. We’ve got a pathetically watered down infrastructure and social investment (not spending, investment) bill that are not nearly sufficient to address wages, climate, housing, education. In fact, we’ve got Jen Psaki saying just yesterday that they’re looking forward to transitioning people ‘smoothly’ back into student loan repayment. This is NOT what people want to hear. People want to hear that the Democrats are fighting back against the oppressions of the ruling class that are driving more people into bankruptcy and homelessness.
They do NOT want to hear that we dumped another near trillion into the military industrial complex. So all of this points to Democratic losses in 2022, because in the end voters are figuring out more and more that the establishment of the Democratic Party is not worth showing up for. And that’s not to say they’re going to the Republicans. They’re just going to abdicate their vote and get on with their lives. You know who is winning the working class? Kshama Sawant. She has just all but beaten a recall attempt that Republicans and corporations dumped millions into. Why? Because she’s an unapologetic fighter for working people and the poor, and against corporate hegemony. And she’s NOT a Democrat. I encourage people to read her statements on the recall attempt. This statement is from the first night of vote counting when she was behind a few points. (My favorite paraphrase: you call me a Trotskyist like it’s a bad thing). So don’t tell me that a real socialist can’t win in America. And if the Democrats had a clue about how to galvanize a broad base this is the messaging they would use. But of course, they can’t. Because as multimillionaire Nancy Pelosi said "I’m a capitalist to my bones."
But let’s also not pretend that these issues are new. They’re not. I encourage everyone to go back and read Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men. If nothing else, read chapter 10, titled “Democrats, DOA” which details everything that Bill Clinton did (and didn’t do) in his two terms to support the Republican agenda. Moore says, “…Bill Clinton was one of the best Republican presidents we’ve ever had.” The photo I’ve included [below] is something the brunch libs can’t seem to fathom, but it’s more true today than it was when this was written 20 years ago. Bernie galvanized the people who (like me) voted for Nader in 2000. Moore further writes, “So is there a difference between Democrats and Republicans? Sure. The Democrats say one thing (“Save the Planet!”) and then do another-- quietly holding hands behind the scenes with the bastards who make this world a dirtier, meaner place. The Republicans just come right out and give the bastards a corner office in the West Wing. That’s the difference.” And I submit to you, that now the Democrats give the bastards a corner office too. Michael closes Chapter 10 with a list of all Democrats he believes need to be removed, based on their voting alignment with the Republicans. Not surprising that current House Armed Services chair Adam Smith (WA-09) is on that list despite having been in office a mere five years at that point. Now 25 years into his career, Smith’s voting record is in the top 25 (we’re talking nearly 230 Democrats) most aligned with the American Conservative Union. And yet he has membership in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Thankfully he is being challenged by a true working class fighter in my friend and ally Stephanie Gallardo.
So this is the fight. We need a complete transformation of the Democratic Party away from corporate power and into working class power. It won’t happen, and we’ll all be worse off for it. But I’ll keep fighting for change, whether inside or outside the Democratic Party, and so will many others.