Whatever Terrible Advise Biden Follows, Progressive Candidates Need To Craft Their Own Messaging

I've known Danny Goldberg for too many decades to count. He's always been a progressive Democrat... and, as an author, Air America executive, rock'n'roll manager and businessman, a progressive Democratic thought leader. Dennis Aftergut, on the other hand, is an establishment moderate, an opinion writer for the conservative, anti-Trump Bulwark and counsel to Lawyers Defending American Democracy. Both had some messaging advise for Democrats seeking to avoid an electoral collapse in November.

Yesterday, Goldberg urged Democrats to double down on messaging that will turn out base voters, even if it means ruffling feathers inside the Democratic establishment. "[T]o be effective, progressive messengers (unlike mainstream Democrats and the pundits who echo them) need to be able to acknowledge Biden’s mistakes from the point of view of the swing voters on the left-- the depravity of increasing the defense budget, the weakness of Merrick Garland’s Justice Department in countering modern American fascism, the President’s refusal thus far to eliminate student debt and issue other executive orders that would convince reluctant voters that its worth the effort to show up one more time. To have credibility with lefty millennials it will also be necessary to acknowledge that the Democratic leadership was naïve to trust Joe Manchin to keep his word about supporting lower prescription drug prices and other parts of Build Back Better after he had promised to do so once he got what he wanted in the infrastructure bill. Only messengers who cop to that debacle can convince reluctant lefties that the only moral choice in the 2022 election is to vote for Democrats anyway."

This morning, writing for The Hill, Aftergut had a very different-- much more defensive-- approach, one that will take the Democrats straight down the midterm toilet. Where Goldberg and other progressives are calling for messaging around core Democratic issues like raising the minimum wage, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, affordable housing, protecting voting rights, cancelling student debt, etc, Aftergut delineates 3 messages for Biden to pound.

Aftergut's 3 points aren't meant to turn out the Democratic base; it is defensive posturing meant to appeal to swing voters:

1- tough on crime

2- urge the Fed to raise interest rates to fight inflation

3- raising taxes-- very modestly-- on the rich

Biden's credibility with the voting public is almost nonexistent. Relentless Republican messaging has seen to that. No one is going to believe anything he says, especially not swing voters, moderate Republicans or independents. They may not like Trump, but they don't especially like Biden either, who they feel is detached, probably senile and incompetent.

Aftergut's suggestion that he double down on the line in his State of the Union speech that got him the strongest Republican applause-- "We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police."-- may sound comforting to many people, but is it going to persuade anyone to vote for a Democrat instead of a Republican? Aftergut wrote that "Biden needs to repeat that message constantly across the country. Whether one’s views are progressive or conservative, most of us can agree that the first duty of government is to provide public safety. An April 7 Gallup poll showed public concern about crime at its highest level since 2016... To give a tough-on-crime message longer legs," he added, "Biden should add to federal spending for local police. Tuesday’s tragedy could be a platform to augment the $30 billion in law enforcement funding in his new budget-- and to constantly remind voters that he did so."

I don't know if Aftergut is a Democrat, a Republican or an independent but I do know that his suggestion-- which reinforces Republican talking points-- is a well-meaning loser. So is the suggestion that Biden get behind a program that would likely bring on a recession in time for 2024's presidential election;

Inflation reached 8.5 percent in March according to the Labor Department’s April 12 announcement. That is intolerable for a White House incumbent in an election year.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board wrote the same day that the public will not blame Putin for the rise. Democrats, they said, will bear the burden in the midterms.
On April 12, in Iowa, Biden announced measures to increase ethanol percentages in gasoline to boost supply and lower prices. The president said that he was doing “everything” within his power to lower prices.
But there’s another thing he should do. A president repeatedly using the bully-pulpit to press those who have greater control on inflation can register with voters in November.
In March, the Federal Reserve Board raised interest rates by 0.25 percent, the first rise in three years, with scheduled increases over the next year-and-a-half. That initial step has yet to show visible effect.
Biden can speak out frequently, prompting the Fed Governors to implement their projected moves. There is little harm in the nation’s leader identifying himself in the public mind with measures that are most likely to show results going forward.

Aftergut means well. Despite that, his suggestions, if followed, would lead to at least 2 dozen lost House seats and, likely, to a new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. His OpEd proves Goldberg's point-- there absolutely has to be an outside force having a message that will motivate young people etc. in addition to whatever version of this Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, at that lot who have gotten us into this mess, end up stumbling into. This was one of AOC's very first messages when she was sworn in. The Democratic establishment told he to STFU. Voters across the board still absolutely love it-- including conservative Republican voters.