GOAL: Gather prominent advocates, strategists and civic leaders to suggest smart policies and messaging to Democratic House/Senate candidates in a one-day virtual Zoom briefing.
PREMISE: The next two election cycles will decide whether America stays a flawed democracy or descends into despotism. In this context, 25 expert communicators will discuss how to a) run on Democratic Populism against corporate abuse, b) rebut relentless “culture war” distractions, c) share new turnout ideas and d) expose the real costs of a party of Dangerous Extremists. Because silence appears as weakness and offense beats defense.
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ENDORSED BY: Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Jamie Raskin, Jim McGovern, Carolyn Maloney, Peter DeFazio, John Larson and Senator Ed Markey.
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Against the worst GOP in history – serially corrupt, anti-labor, violence-prone and reliably authoritarian – why are many Democrats now in a defensive crouch? How can a party that would’ve disgusted Ike, Taft and even Reagan still be competitive to win majority control of Congress after harming most people in Blue and Red states?
Winning America 2022 rejects the defeatism of the midterm jinx (“Democrats Giving Up Already?” read one New York magazine headline), which can become self-fulfilling if discouraged Democrats stay home. Instead, we’re offering a six hour briefing by progressive veterans (with a published Summary after) for participating Senate/House nominees. Since Speakers exist outside the circle of political ambition and inhibition, they’ve become skilled advocates for all, embodying the motto of “we all bleed the same color.” Yet insular campaigns rarely if ever harness their collective wisdom.
For some examples: Robert Kuttner and David Cay Johnston will explain best ways to talk about inflation/growth/tax unfairness; Heather McGhee on Class and Race; pollster Celinda Lake on the pulse of the nation after Roe; Jerry Brown how to win back working class voters and the existential issue of Nuclear Arms; Jim Hightower and Anat Shenker-Osorio on rhetoric and debate; Marielena Hicapie on Immigration; Richard Aborn on street crime/gun crime and Rep. Jamie Raskin on Trump crime; and Ralph Nader on new ways to pull out the base vote and a critical chunk of 140 million non-voters.
These Speakers would avoid pedagogy by using plain – not preachy – language based on how voters see themselves…in their roles as workers, consumers, taxpayers, parents and patients. To narrow today’s intensity gap favoring Republicans, a through-line will be Lee Atwater’s classic axiom “if you’re explainin’, you’re losin’.”
Some insiders suggest ignoring Trump’s chaos and corruption – “let’s look ahead since he’s not on the ballot.” But his minions are and he demands complete fealty. So it’s kosher to say, “a vote for any Republican is a vote for Trump”…and it’s fine if an opponent whines. Democrats who choose to ignore their lava of lies and smears risk that they stick and spread. Better to be on the attack than on the run.
Here’s one recent instance of a smart jujitsu – MI State Sen Mallory McMorrow answered charges of “grooming” students: “People who are different aren’t the reason our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment or health care costs are too high. We have to reclaim our identity and call out [this nonsense.]”
Winning America 2022 will explain how Republican contempt for the Rule of Law and Majority Rule specifically hurts the wallets and health of families – it’s not just inflation. We’ll remind voters that the Party-of-No has opposed nearly all progress – civil rights laws, public health insurance, reproductive rights, access to justice, union organizing/minimum wage and consumer/environmental /worker protections. Imagine an America without them.
It’s time to rewire the 2022 conversation in time for November.
Unless Democratic nominees memorably tell a story about what 2023 and 2025 would look like if Republican radicals return to power – ending Obamacare, raising taxes on 75 million, corporatizing Social Security/Medicare, jailing girls and women after abortions, spurring more MAGA mobs threatening public officials — the minority party will try to coast to victories by simply blaming Biden, Blackness and Wokeness for world-wide inflation and gas prices. Instead, Democrats need to vividly contrast mainstream and extreme to jolt the status quo. Boring is bad.
In a not dissimilar situation in 1948, nearly all commentators were sure Truman would lose. Then he began his “Do-Nothing-Congress” whistle-stop tour, telling one audience of 90,000 Iowa farmers that Republicans are “gluttons of privilege, cold men who want a return of the Wall Street dictatorship. How many times do you have to be hit over the head before finding out who’s hitting you?”
In 2022 that means not only debunking Big Lies one-by-one but also weaving them into winning messages that hit voters in the gut, as Truman famously did. Especially given dramatic hearings on Trump’s continuing coup to SCOTUS overruling popular laws on abortion and gun safety to a possible GA indictment of him – it’s increasingly obvious that today’s GOP is comprised of and run by “Dangerous Extremists.” That one moniker conveys it all.
One option to any ‘culture war’ attack is to quickly mock and pivot: “Your party’s obsession with race, book-burning and gender are attempts to cover up your assaults on American families and workers: can you explain how GOP leaders incited a mob to violently overturn an election; embraced Covid quackery to allow a lethal virus to spread and kill hundreds of thousands; and ignored a severe Recession in 2020 that cost 3 million jobs? And where are your proposals on world-wide inflation?”
“Inflation IS too damn high… but far worse are Dangerous Extremists who want to ban books, ban Black History, ban Marriage Equality, ban Trans, ban all abortions, ban most of the Voting Rights Act, ban environmental regulation, ban some travel between states, ban speech by certain health care providers… while posing as patriots who believe in ‘Freedom.’ How stupid do they think voters are?”
A vote for any Republican replaces Democracy with Corporatism. Can your family afford more anxiety, dread and fear?”
While only candidates can finally judge what works in their districts or states, we’ll suggest alternatives to tired language and strategies in the face of ferocious propaganda and worrying polls. Indeed, recent scandals and tragedies may now be altering the political climate: see, for example, Elizabeth Warren saying that Kevin McCarthy was “a liar and a traitor”; Jamie Raskin warning against “neo-fascism”; Hakeem Jeffries rhetorically asking Justice Thomas “Why do you hate?” and President Biden referring to the MAGA movement as “the most extreme” in recent American history. And then came the truly radical reversal of Roe that is leading to swelling protests throughout America.
That is, if they lie about us, we have to tell the truth about them – they’re lying pols whose core tenet is that Trump won in 2020. Possible phrases that might resonate for “5-minute” voters include:
* Extremism Isn’t Patriotism
* Parents Want Honesty in History, Not Books Banned by Politicians
* Go Vote Yourself a Pay Raise – It’s Long Overdue
* Tax the Super-rich to Help Our Children
* Would you invite over a neighbor who always lies, cheats and bullies people? Then why vote for a party which does that?
The ZOOM day and followup Summary Booklet will help candidates get back on offense and excite larger turnouts to crush the GOP this Fall and 2024. We can’t afford to lose. Will we “see” you 7/23?*
P.O. Box 19312
Washington, DC 20036
Winning America 2022, Ralph Nader and Mark Green, Co-Directors
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* Sen. Ed Markey: “This important convening of candidates, advocates and civil leaders reflects the potential for progress – for justice, transparency, accountability, climate action — that will
define the next generation of elected officials on Capitol Hill.”
* Rep. Jim McGovern: (Chair, House Rules Committee): “A big thank you to Ralph Nader and Mark Green for bringing together such an impressive group of experts to support our Democratic candidates just as our very democracy is on the line.”
* Rep. Jamie Raskin: “The Winning America project will bring Democratic candidates into lively conversations with public interest luminaries who know how to shape effective populist rhetoric and analysis. We’re eager to hear from them.”
* Rep. Carolyn Maloney: (Chair, House Oversight): “It’s great that Ralph and Mark are connecting prominent advocates and our nominees to do our best this Fall… especially this Fall.”
* Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “To best serve the people we are privileged to represent, it is important that Democrats up and down the ballot have full command of policies to make life better for
* Rep. John Larson: “I enthusiastically support this symbiotic symposium of policy leaders with outstanding intellect, political acumen, and practical understanding of what we need to do to win – and I encourage my colleagues to participate.”
* Rep. Peter DeFazio: “It’s critical that we do everything in our power to elect Democrats, fight for meaningful change, and save our representative democracy.”