How can a politician campaign to win your vote? I have been grappling with this issue recently because the stakes in the November election are so high.
Although I know what I’d like to hear from a candidate, I wonder what answers to the question I’m asking are most likely to lead to the results I believe are necessary in November. Please help me by providing your thoughts in the comments below.
First, what I’d really love to see was nicely detailed by my blogging friend Jill Dennison. In a playfully dead-serious post throwing her own hat into the ring for President, which you can read here, she wrote the following:
“One thing I know, and it will be the cornerstone of my campaign, is that I will not sink into the mudhole that is so prevalent in politics today. I will not respond to hate, and I will not engage in name-calling, screaming & screeching, or telling lies. I want honest dialog, civil discourse, I want conversations to mean something, not just denigrate the other party. I want us to have a dialog about the things that matter to all of us, like healthcare, jobs, the minimum wage, gun regulation, education and much more. I want to remember to whom I owe my job – not the party, not the wealthy, but the average voter.”
Jill’s post got me pondering how a decent, well-meaning politician (and yes; there are still plenty of them) breaks through the name-calling and all the awful stuff—especially in this election, now that some very extreme candidates have won their primaries and will be vying with some very sensible ones.
How can you have dialogue and civil discourse while your opponent is throwing mud?
Many people have long complained that the Democrats “bring a butter knife to a gun fight.” In the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, one of the most important gubernatorial races imaginable is under way: Josh Shapiro, the state’s current attorney general, who’s been fighting against phony claims of election fraud since 2020 and supports women’s reproductive rights, is facing Doug Mastriano.
Shapiro, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, was criticized for an ad he ran that was interpreted as deliberately elevating Mastriano by highlighting his extremism, presumably because he felt Mastriano would be an easier candidate to defeat than his Republican primary opponents.
Shapiro’s campaign maintains that Mastriano was leading in the polls when they ran that ad, and they felt it was important to reveal who he is early.
Mastriano is so extreme that he’s almost off the charts. Insurrectionist extreme. He was an actual participant in the January 6th Insurrection, believes himself to be a prophet called upon by his god to save our country from the Satanic Democrats, and has promised to appoint a Secretary of State who will decide the election—regardless of how Pennsylvanians vote. He also opposes abortion—with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant woman.
How do candidates counter proponents of the Big Lie? A number of people have suggested, quite reasonably, that Shapiro should refuse to debate Mastriano because you shouldn’t dignify the lies by arguing with them–or even appearing on the same platform. Tengrain’s MockPaperScissors blog had a brief discussion of this point.
Do you agree?
I tentatively disagree: I can envision Mastriano depicting Shapiro as a coward who owes the voters the courtesy of sharing a stage with Mastriano and saying what he thinks. Mastriano is a slick salesman type whose demeanor and tone belie the ultra-radical content of his ideas.
I don’t think Shapiro should rely upon voters’ easily seeing the dangers in a Mastriano win. I’m hoping Shapiro will appeal to voters’ heads and hearts.
I like this direct, no-nonsense tweet:
“We will not rest while a woman’s right to choose, a worker’s right to organize, and our right to vote are under attack. It’s on us to step off the sidelines and get in the game to fight for them. The general election has begun.”
Another approach by a Democrat running against a candidate espousing extremist views appears in Ohio, where Rep. Tim Ryan is seeking the Senate seat against JD Vance, a guy who ridiculed Trump not long ago but has since groveled before him, fully adopted his rhetoric, and probably won the nomination because of the former guy.
Here’s a Tim Ryan ad that is wholly designed to characterize his extremist opponent, albeit mostly through a third person—Marjorie Taylor Greene. Does it work?
Another Ryan ad takes a different tack: traveling with his young son, a good actor who feeds Dad all the right questions, Ryan focuses on the problems of working class Ohioans and how he plans to combat them.
Do you think a politician needs to combine these two approaches: the tough definition of his extremist opponent and a positive presentation of his own vision for the people?
Finally, here’s “Never Quit,” an ad by Stacey Abrams, running once again for Governor of Georgia. I will note that I’m an Abrams devotee. I think Georgia will be lucky to have her and if she wins, she’ll soon be on the national stage. (I do worry, though, because she’s running against the incumbent who has control of the votes, disqualified many of her voters last time, and has overseen adoption of some really tough voter suppression laws directed at people of color and young voters.)
“Never Quit” is to me a masterful ad that appeals to Georgians across the spectrum. What do you think?
Hope and fear are the two factors that seem paramount in appeals to voters. Republicans certainly use the fear factor as much as they can. Unfortunately, appeals to fear work, though I wish they didn’t.
Not incidentally, here’s an interesting note: the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll in May, 2022, found that fear of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade has tipped their findings about voters’ preferences.
Before the leaked Alito draft, 47% of voters nationally supported the Republican candidate, while 44% supported the Democrat.
Now, with 64% of Americans opposed to the court’s likely action, 47% of registered voters say they’ll support the Democrat in their Congressional district, while 42% support the Republican.
Half of voters say they’re more likely to vote in November—with 66% of Democrats saying the potential demise of Roe has increased the likelihood they’ll vote, compared with 40% of Republicans who say that.
So it may be fear of a radical Supreme Court’s decision and direction that saves the Democrats from what had been widely regarded as the certainty of huge losses in November.
And that could mean preventing our embattled democracy from going over the precipice.
It makes me nuts that we don’t have vastly higher numbers of people expressing their intention to vote in any election, let alone this particularly crucial one.
Of course there are lots of considerations affecting your feelings about a candidate, but the way they campaign matters. Please let me know what you think of the ads above and how a politician can appeal to you–and win.
28 thoughts on “How Can a Politician Campaign to Win Your Vote?”
Hi Annie. I’m with you on the debate conundrum. Refusing to debate an opponent because you say they are a liar is not a valid strategy. Voters will ask why you are afraid of the guy you think is a liar. Usually, the frontrunner is the one to wiggle out of debates because they are they have everything to lose and nothing to gain, but I also judge frontrunners harshly for that mercenary strategy. (Also, yes to Abrams as one who appeals across the spectrum. She won’t get ideologically-rooted conservatives but otherwise has a general appeal to white, black, male, female, woke progressives and their decidedly unwoke progressive cousins like me 🙂 )
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So good to hear from you! Yes, I do think candidates must debate their opponents It’s notable that there will be no Presidential debates in 2024 as per the Republican National Committee, which clearly thinks public exposure under circumstances they can’t control is not to their candidate’s advantage–whoever that candidate may be.
I just hope–for Georgians’ sake and for us all–that Stacey Abrams can overcome the Republican voter suppression to win the governorship. She could be a balm for our nation. And Georgia voters must elect Bee Nguyen, a Democratic state representative opposing Brad Raffensperger for Secretary of State. Though Raffensperger bravely stood up to Trump, he has supported the suppressive Georgia voting legislation passed by the Republicans after the Democrats’ 2020 wins.
Thanks for your comment.
Hello Annie. Like most people I get interested in a politician or political campaign if they address the issues I am interested in. I am a progressive and pro-people person. I also am someone who likes policies. I need to see that the candidate puts the public first, that the policies they promote / champion are for the people vs for corporations / businesses. An example of a politician I really supported was Elizabeth Warren. I look to see if the candidate takes corporate PAC money which I find a legal bribe and buy of politicians. Hugs
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I would love to see strong legislation for public funding of elections, but until/unless we have that, I don’t think it’s fair to tie Democrats’ hands when they face huge advantages in terms of dark money from the Republicans. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, as you know, was masterful when the Republican Judiciary Committee members claimed that Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court was being propelled by dark money. Whitehouse pointed out the difference between the Dems’ efforts to curtail dark money and the Republicans’ reliance upon it to buy the court they want. The same holds true for legislators.
I appreciate your comment.
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Hello Annie. I agree but I would point out there are clear examples of politicians who have limited their donations to non-corporate or non-Pac sources who have raised as much money as their opponents, and many were successful in winning their offices. That is what the Justice Democrats are all about. The truth is that if a politician appeals to the people they can raise enough money through small money donations to win elections. But Corporate Democrats and their buyers don’t want people to know that. When asked why she should be speaker Nancy Pelosi replied ” Because I raised the most money”. Is that really the qualifications we want for our leadership? For our congress people? Hugs
Scottie—Though your point is well taken about some candidates being able to raise enough money, I don’t think it’s a given, and in non-national races, where the Kochs and other dark money masters have molded legislatures to their vision, it’s a real problem.
I truly wish you would follow the indefatigable Nancy Pelosi on Twitter so you can see her in action instead of relying on quotes clearly taken out of context. And if you read Jamie Raskin’s wonderful memoir, you’ll see a woman you won’t recognize from all the caricatures. Her place in history as a progressive, humane, inspiring, and wildly successful leader is secure.
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You have to play the game you are in, not the game you wish you were in. In a nation where people are ill informed about what government actually does there is no point in attempting to engage their intellects. As every poll shows, the better educated folks tend to vote for progressives, while the less educated tend to vote for Republicans. That leaves a big gap of “independent” voters who can be influenced either way. The GOP knows they cannot win on any honest discussion of the issues.
The game being played today is one of fear. Fear of the “other”, fear of inflation, fear of what the future holds. Candidates that address that fear ONLY with logic and reason are doomed to failure. Candidates with good solid plans will appeal to progressives but will win no new votes.
Look at the 2020 election as an example. The Republican Party, for the first time in history, did not produce a platform. None,. They put out a short statement saying that they supported Trump. Period. No plan. No issues that would help America. Nothing. Nothing except the fear and hostility promoted by Trump. Yet, they received almost 50% of the vote.
Look at the debates. Trump did not even bother to debate, just threw out insults. And the GOP has said they will not participate in future presidential debates because they are “unfair”. Look at the moron , Herschel Walker, in Georgia. He does not even show up for the GOP primary debates and he still wins.
So, the game we are in is the game of fear. The progressive candidates should put forth specific plans, for sure. But they must also focus on fear. The fear of fascism which the GOP embraces. The fear of taking away family rights to control procreation. The fear of book burnings. Fear of religious fanatics taking over schools and governments and imposing fundamentalist Christian “Shari’a Law”. The fear of racial hatred fueled by the GOP.
If the progressives depend only on sound plans for the future they will lose. The sad fact is that this election, and many more to come, will be based on fear. They must make people more afraid of the GOP than they are of the “socialists”. Good luck.
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Sadly, as I note, fear is huge motivator. But I continue to believe voters need to hear what the candidate will do to help them–in substantive ways. There’s a reason all those Republicans who voted AGAINST the Biden infrastructure legislation are now claiming ownership of it. The evil DeSantis recently had a ceremony with a big check consisting of funds that came from that legislation. I’m not the first to point out the Democrats are lousy messengers about all the solid things they’ve done to improve people’s lives.
There are many pressing, legitimate areas in which voters should be fearful of Republicans. To the ones you’ve enumerated. I add that though there’s no national Republican platform at present, Sen Rick Scott’s plan includes taxing low and moderate income people and essentially endangering Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. McConnell and others are running away from it publicly, but these are things the Republicans have long wanted to do.
I still think that candidates need to strike an artful balance between fear and hope.
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How Can a Politician Campaign to Win Your Vote?
First off, if a politician wants to win my vote, they need to focus on their own views and what they intend to do. Endless iterations of “look how bad the other side is” are not going to cut it. (I suspect a lot of voters feel the same way — if “look how bad the other guy is” didn’t work for Hillary in 2016, it’s hard to imagine a situation where it will work). I want to hear what that politician will do to work toward goals I support and stop policies I oppose. Your quote from Jill Dennison — “I want conversations to mean something, not just denigrate the other party” — sounds like it means something similar.
The second thing I’ll be looking for is explicit repudiation of extremism on their own side. Dangerously extremist, lunatic-fringe stances among political leaders are a major threat to the country today. For over a decade, the prevalence of such dangerous extremism among Republicans meant that it really was necessary to vote for Democrats, no matter what reservations we had about them, simply to stop the damage the Republicans were doing or were likely to do if they won or kept power. I’m sure you’re well aware of what I mean, since you reposted this post of mine which expresses it. However, for the first time I can remember, the Democrats too are now supporting some policies so dangerous and extremist that, to me, it feels almost equally imperative to vote for Republicans, no matter what reservations I have about them, simply to stop the damage the Democrats are doing or are likely to do if they stay in power. The situation really looks relatively symmetrical in a way it never did before.
This being the case, the real imperative is for one party or the other (or, hopefully, both of them) to repudiate its crazy elements and move back toward sanity. So, rather than support one party across-the-board, I’ll be looking for individual candidates of either party who show the most sign of doing that. As I’ve been at pains to point out, Biden’s repudiation of “defunding the police” at the SOTU was a positive step, though a small one.
I don’t know enough about the Shapiro / Mastriano debate issue to express an opinion, but questions like who wants to debate or not are pretty much background noise to me anyway. They tell me nothing about what policies a politician will support when in office.
There are definitely a lot of voters up for grabs outside the committed camps on either side. A surprising number of people voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then for Trump in 2016. Ideology or racism can’t explain that; there are other factors at work. Above all, voters won’t respond favorably to being scolded, lectured, or told that they are Very Bad People (or stupid) for having the concerns they do. They will turn to whoever will address those concerns.
A good start would be a genuine effort to understand the motives of those who have voted for the other side or are leaning that way — starting with recognizing that they are not all alike. Some really are irredeemable bigots, some are not. In particular, over the last couple of years polling shows a steady shift of voters toward the Republicans — especially women and Hispanic voters. Yet, I’ve seen zero sign of interest among Democrats in listening to those voters, and figuring out why this is happening. At best, there is what sounds like arrogant psychoanalysis, people in a bubble talking to each other about why those people out there are “voting against their own interests”.
When voting this year and in 2024 I’ll be looking for those who break away from this mindset, listen to the country (including those not in their own ideological camp), and try to lead their own party back to sanity.
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I need to make a few suggestions/criticisms regarding your post. You claim that Hillary lost the 2016 election because she was too negative toward Trump? Really? I don’t recall her steady steam of name calling and avoiding issues. She outlined her plans for America , including economic policies. Trump was a master of one liners and insults. “Lock Her Up”. You seem to be rewriting the facts of that election. Hillary did respond to the deluge of hatred spewed by Trump, for sure. She did (correctly) claim that Trump was Putin’s puppet. History has born that out. But there is no equivalency there. Also,Hillary did win the popular vote by over 4,000,000 votes. So, the people did not reject her. It was the nondemocratic Electoral college system that kept her out of the White House, not the votes of the people.
You also mention that the Democrats do not condemn the “fringe” of the party. OK. Well, they do seem to not tolerate any sexual misbehavior which is almost a badge of honor among the GOP. Franken, Cuomo were simply ACCUSED of sexual misconduct and had to resign. Compare that with the pussy grabber leader of the GOP.
You say that the Dems refuse to condemn the radical “fringe” in the party. OK. Is there some massive “fringe” wing of the Dems? Who are they and what are they proposing? Be specific. Who are you referring to and how much power do they wield in the party?
On the other hand the GOP has been controlled by the radical fringe. They condemned conservatives like Liz Cheney and Kinzinger. They jammed through unvetted SCOTUS judges. They claim the 2020 election was stolen, with no evidence to back it up. Gaetz, Greene,McConnell, Giuliani, Bannon, Trump, Cruz, Hawley, Brooks, Herschel Walker, etc. are all “in good standing”.The GOP is no longer a mainstream conservative party based on values, it has become a pseudo-religious cult of white nationalism. As I mentioned in my post, they did not even bother to provide a platform of ideas in 2020.
So, let’s stop the false equivalency. We now have one political party, a moderate left of center/progressive Democratic party and a right wing cult. To pretend otherwise is to ignore the evidence of the last 6 years.
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You claim that Hillary lost the 2016 election because she was too negative toward Trump
No I didn’t. I said that “look how bad the other guy is” didn’t work for her, meaning it was not enough for her to win the election. Pointing out how bad Trump was probably didn’t hurt her, but it wasn’t sufficient. If it wasn’t sufficient to beat a candidate as obviously awful as Trump, it won’t be sufficient to beat other, less-obviously awful Republicans either. That’s my point. Democrats need to focus more on what they will do in office that people want, and less on sounding the alarm about how bad Republicans are (though that has its place).
Is there some massive “fringe” wing of the Dems? Who are they and what are they proposing?
The problem is that they aren’t “fringe” any more. Every party always has a lunatic fringe. It’s when the lunatics capture the party as a whole (as happened with the Republicans at least ten years ago) that it turns into a real problem. As to the policies I’m referring to, examples include:
“Defunding the police” (yes, Biden repudiated this, which is a start). Yes, I know they have some convoluted explanation of what it “really” means, but when you say “defund the police” people are going to assume you mean what you say, and the whole party has been tarred by it, at a time when crime is spiking.
Racism in schools. I’ve seen many cases of grade-school kids being taught that being white automatically makes you racist and things like that. It’s not just a matter of teaching honestly about history as some people claim. The normal activist response is to hand-wave and claim that this isn’t “critical race theory” because that’s only taught at higher levels. Nobody cares whether teaching kids that stuff is technically CRT or not. They care about the substance of it. When people hear that their kids are being taught negativity about their own race, they will vote out the party which defends this, and vote for whoever will ban it.
Gender grooming in schools. Kids as young as five are being “taught” ideology about gender identity and sexual orientation which is grossly inappropriate for that age, being told they may be “trans” if they behave unusually for what sex they are, being told to hide what they’re being taught from their parents, etc. Again, it’s Democrats who defend this and Republicans who are trying to stop it. When people hear about their own kids being taught sexual weirdness and told to hide it from their parents, they see red — and will vote accordingly.
Other effects of trans ideology such as putting men in women’s prisons (which has already led to quite a few sexual assaults), and performing major surgery like double mastectomies and worse, as well as life-crippling hormonal treatments, on minors in the mid- or even early teens who can’t possibly understand what they’re “consenting” to. This is what that “gender-affirming care” you keep hearing about actually consists of. Kids’ lives are being ruined and doomed to a lifetime of medicalization and pain on the basis of a transient fad being spread by social media. And Democrats are going to the mat to defend this stuff. It’s not just a fringe position any more. It might seem surprising that, for example, policies that allow men to use women’s restrooms would have more impact on how a lot of women vote than the threat to abortion does, but as I explained here (scroll down a bit), it’s really not.
There’s also the whole knee-jerk hatred and contempt for gun culture, which locks Democrats out of vast areas of the country where they’d otherwise have a chance — though this is hardly new. Voters also respond badly to “woke” cultural insults. One survey showed 30% of Hispanics saying they’d probably vote against anyone who uses “Latinx” with the “x” at the end, for example.
I will be looking for Democratic candidates who explicitly confront and oppose policies like these, just as I’ll be looking for Republicans who explicitly repudiate stolen-election lies, vote suppression, abortion bans, and suchlike. One party or the other has got to get back to sanity.
The standard activist response to raising these issues is to ignore or minimize them. I argue that that’s exactly why the Democrats are losing more and more voters. Millions upon millions of voters, especially women and Hispanics, are looking at the Republicans with all their lunacy and bigotry and deciding “yes, but the Democrats are even worse”. Democrats need to understand why. If anything, I think we’ve only begun to see the damage such errors will do. Much of the public doesn’t even know yet that most of this stuff is happening. When people find out their kids are being taught racial self-hatred or sexual weirdness in school, and that one political side is defending that, it enrages them and they become single-issue voters.
let’s stop the false equivalency
Used to be false. Not now. Democrats can keep on hand-waving and minimizing and evading these issues so they can get back to talking about the kind of stuff they prefer talking about, and probably lose massively this year and in 2024. Or they can confront the problem and deal with it.
I apologize to Annie for writing this much about points that could be judged off-topic. I did edit it to make it as short as possible and still respond to Joseph. The post’s question was what politicians (especially Democrats) should do to win over voters they would otherwise lose. This is my answer. Others may disagree with it, but it does address the question.
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My perspective matches yours, Joseph. To me it’s clear that the Republican Party has become a dangerous cult that threatens our nation. And it’s even clearer that trumpism preceded trump and is now burgeoning even as he, himself, loses power. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still do a great deal of damage.
As for Hillary, who did warn us accurately, even the non-democratic Electoral College may not have prevented her win if Comey hadn’t made his dreadfully ill-advised pronouncements (how quaint her emails now seem in terms of the wanton disregard for norms and laws by her opponent and his crowd)–and McConnell had been willing to sign a bipartisan statement condemning the Russian interference in 2016.
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Infidel. A short reply to your last post about my post about your post…1. You did imply that the ONLY thing Hillary did was criticize Trump when you say that doing so was”not sufficient” for her to win. Well, she did much more than that. She outlined specific policies on immigration reform, global warming, the economy, clean energy development and the dangers posed by Putin. She had a vert through and well thought out and articulated platform. Appealing to logic and the intellect, as she did, was not sufficient. He was totally focused on what she would do in office.
2. You claim that the “fringe wing “of the Dems has captured the entire party. Then you give some examples.Let us look at them.
Defunding the police is not and never has been a Dem party policy. There are 2 Dems that I know of (Omar of Minnesota and one other) who called for that Not a single mainstream Dem leader or politician other than those 2 called for defunding. There have been no bills offered in Congress to do so, where the Dems have the majority. Pelosi made it clear that the Dem Party support policy funding. So did Biden and Schumer. A false claim by the GOP.
CRT in the schools. The GOP has taken law school theory and tried to imply that it is the same as teaching about slavery.Yes, white people , in the north and south, did enslave black people. An historical fact. Jim crow, an historical fact. Voter suppression, an historical fact.These facts of history are taught in the schools.Why the GOP thinks that is wrong is beyond me. Now, the charge that little white kids are taught to “hate”themselves or are taught they are responsible for racism is just plain hogwash. That is not part of any curriculum.If it is it should be easy for you to identify which textbooks or state curricula teach kids to hate themselves.If so, that is wrong and I would like to see the evidence. Another GOP talking point..
Gender issues.You say their is “gender grooming”i in schools.I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. You claim that 5 year olds are being taught they can be “trans” and are being taught some “ideology” Really? 5 year olds. So, tell me more. Perhaps you can tell me where this is happening and the books used. I would be interested since I think it is a bunch of nonsense. But I may be wrong.evidence?But I agree that the Dems do support youngsters who are having gender identity issues. What should they do?Not support them?
Gun control. Dems do favor smart and legal controls on weapons. correct. As do over 80% of Americans.that is hardly anti-gun, it is pro-life.
False equivalency. Most of your talking points are just that.talking points of the GOP with little or no basis in fact. As Daniel Patrick Moynahan, Senator from NY) used to say. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Unless, like Kelly Anne Conway and Donald Trump, you believe that facts are not facts at all, but simply “alternative’ facts.
I didn’t realize when I reblogged your 2020 post that you were not only speaking to your audience, but also to yourself. Nevertheless, I still find it persuasive–even more so today than it was two years ago. I’m quoting a portion below:
“And it’s not only the presidency. We need to win it, yes, but we need to hold the House and win the Senate as well. Leaving any one of those three under the Republicans’ control would enable them to block almost all progress on expanding health coverage, protecting the right to vote, restoring abortion rights, saving the climate, or anything else. And again, in the real world, the only way to end Republican control of those institutions is to achieve Democratic control. There’s no third option.
It’s not only about Biden or the Democratic party. It’s about saving the country.”
Indeed, and what I said there reflected what I believed at the time, two years ago. What I’m trying to do here is to explain why I no longer believe that, and why I now see the Democrats supporting similarly heinous evils, such that it is imperative to block them even if that means voting for Republicans — just as much as the other way around. And unfortunately there’s still no third option. That’s why I say I’ll be looking for candidates of either party who seem willing repudiate the dangerous craziness on their own “side” and lead the way back to sanity.
It seems to me that if your question is how a political campaign can win over voters who might otherwise not support it, I’m exactly the kind of person you should be asking. Two years ago I fervently supported voting for Democrats whatever their flaws. Since then, they’ve driven me away. But in response to your post, I’m willing to explain exactly what they did to drive me away, and how they can win my vote back, and those of many of the millions of others (as I noted) they are also driving away. Many may not like my answers, but I think you can only get useful answers by listening to people like me, not just to those who are still inside the tent.
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I agree with you, Infidel; it is important to hear from people like you. And I did understand that you were stating those were your views from two years ago. My point was that what you said two years ago is precisely how I feel today–only more so.
Needless to say, I disagree with the way you’ve described the Democrats’ positions on most of the issues you find condemnable. I don’t know if there’s any way for us to try to better enlighten one another. Do you?
Because I know you’re a thoughtful, analytical person, it saddens me to think that our views on the existential threat to this country are so diametrically opposed. I emphatically believe that voting for any Republican who has remained a Republican (except Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger) means ending our ability to vote of our own volition ever again. Period.
I don’t know if there’s any way for us to try to better enlighten one another. Do you?
I think it is just a matter of doing the hard work of acquiring the necessary information. It took me a long time to grasp a lot of what was going on and how bad it really is. The Sunday link round-ups on my blog contain a fair number of examples, each week, of the kinds of things I’ve been talking about here. One just has to be open to learning about the issues and not brush things off because they don’t fit a pre-existing narrative.
Unfortunately a lot of the left these days has become just like the Fox/OANN/etc addicts on the right — they diligently refuse to read or look at anything which disagrees with what they already believe. For them, there is no hope. They’ll just keep on getting blindsided by lost elections swayed by issues they were not even aware of — an example being the most recent governor’s election in Virginia. Most leftists seem to have literally not even heard about the Loudoun county rape cover-up scandal, which probably had a substantial impact on the election outcome, because their preferred media ignored it. But Virginia parents/voters knew about it.
I’ve always been aware of this problem and insist on being open to a wide range of sources of information. I don’t just believe everything someone says — but I look at what kind of supporting documentation and evidence there is, not whether it fits a narrative I’m already comfortable with. I would have a lot less negativity to deal with on the blog if I just pretended all these awful things I mentioned are not really happening or are not actually as horrific as they are. But that would be a lie, and I would know it was a lie, and I’d be turning my back on the victims.
But your post question was about winning votes, and surely even those who disagree with me can see the consequences of some of these issues for election outcomes. Even if someone supports (for example) prison rape, or performing sterilizing surgery on minors, surely it’s obvious that a political party endorsing policies which lead to those things is going to lose votes, to the extent that the electorate knows about it?
I emphatically believe that voting for any Republican who has remained a Republican (except Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger) means ending our ability to vote of our own volition ever again
I’m sorry, but I’ve been hearing this kind of claim for a decade or so now and I just can’t take it seriously any more. Every election one side or the other says that if they lose it means the end of democracy. Democracy in the US is a lot more resilient than that. I don’t deny, for example, that Republican efforts to suppress the Democratic vote are very real and should be resisted — but the 2020 election and some of this year’s primaries had very high turnout by historical standards, meaning that vote suppression is not working. Actually subverting the democratic process enough that it became meaningless and we ended up with a de facto one-party state would be hugely difficult and require a concerted, unified effort which the Republicans have not remotely shown themselves capable of, even if they were all united in wanting to subvert democracy, which they aren’t.
But my point remains — the more important you believe it is to stop the Republicans from winning power, the more you should be willing to face the issues that are driving voters over to their camp, even if it means confronting matters you’d prefer to avoid.
That’s the reason why I insist on posting (well, linking) about these issues as I do. I want the Democrats to come back to sanity and succeed. I want them to avoid a future of chronically losing elections, as they now seem doomed to. But you don’t deal with, say, a tooth abscess by pretending it’s not there or pretending it’s not really that bad. You have to go to the dentist, unpleasant as it may be.
I’m not going to try to persuade you that your views are wrong and mine are right, nor to pose questions–even rhetorical ones that you’ll feel obligated to answer. Instead, I’ll simply explain how I reached my conclusions about some of the issues you believe the Democrats support that you think are not only wrong, but dangerous and repulsive.
Defund the police. Joseph Urban’s response represents mine as well. I pay a lot of attention to these matters, and I’ve heard no groundswell for this position. I have heard, however, dismay among many Black leaders–which I and many others share–that in the two years since the murder of George Floyd, we’re still seeing far too many murders of unarmed Black men (and in some instances women).
It’s a complicated matter, but clearly better training in de-escalation is needed. I also think regs and ordinances should minimize encounters over non-violent issues that too often turn deadly. Traffic stops for burned-out headlights, for example, could be handled electronically, etc. And we do expect the police to handle matters that could better be done by social workers and psychologists.
Guns. The Democratic goal of responsible gun legislation is held by the vast majority of Americans. Leaving aside the question of the Second Amendment, which was essentially reinterpreted by Scalia in Heller, the fact that we have more guns than people in the US–that an unfettered gun lobby has made the most extreme among us believe that they have a Constitutional right to a weapon of war that can destroy a classroom of children in minutes–is a matter of huge concern to most Americans, gun owners and others. I would like to see universal background checks, gun licensing and registration, and a return to the Clinton years’ ban on assault weapons and the magazines that feed them.
Trans rights. I suspect this issue is the basis of what you find most “repulsive.” I find the entire discussion of trans’ rights very similar to that which occurred in the early days of the gay rights movement. People were disgusted, alarmed: gay people would give everyone AIDS; gay teachers would corrupt young people. I have trouble understanding how anyone who says he/she supports gay people’s rights to live in dignity can not see trans people as part of this continuum.
As Joseph pointed out, the Loudoun story was not accurately reported. You talk about support for “prison rape.” No one supports prison rape. You talk of sterilization of minors. Surgery is almost never done on pre-pubescent or pubescent kids. Treatment is individualized and done over a period of years–when it is deemed medically necessary.
I’ve linked to a podcast of a New Yorker Radio Hour discussion of trans care with a reporter who’s interviewed many physicians and parents. The pediatric endocrinologist describes the pall that’s been cast upon the clinicians who have solid data on these matters talking about them publicly because of fear for the safety of their patients and families. She said she can’t believe how this medical issue has been politicized: “…so full of misinformation and blatant falsehoods that I couldn’t in good conscience stay quiet.” You may be interested to learn that she is gaining support from abortion providers, who undergo the same kind of harassment.
If the link doesn’t work, it’s called “The Attack on Gender-Affirming Medical Care,” and it appeared May 20, 2022.
I am not without skepticism when I read or hear a doctor’s views. But I checked to see what the various medical societies say about this issue.
Here’s a list of 29 leading organizations and their positions.
The AMA, for example, no radical group, said in 2021: “The AMA opposes the dangerous intrusion of government into the practice of medicine and the criminalization of health care decision-making. Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people.”
In other words, I do not find the Democrats’ support for the dignity and appropriate medical care of trans people is an extreme position.
Threat to our democracy. It’s true that the 2020 election had a high turnout. Much of that was due to the use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. It was so successful that the Republicans worried this was a bad sign. Trump famously said if too many people vote, the Republicans will never have power again. So the Big Lie took place and has been energized in state legislatures with a slew of voting restrictions.
It’s also true there’s been high turnout so far. Though it’s hard to tell in some elections because there weren’t contested Democratic primaries, we do know that in Texas, many absentee ballots were tossed in specific counties due to the bizarre new laws. In Georgia, both Raffensperger and Kemp supported the laws that specifically inhibit Black and young voters.
You didn’t mention reproductive rights, an issue on which we agree–as do the majority of Americans. I know you want nothing that will move the US closer to a theocracy. I see ominous signs in the Republican legislatures and this court.
Like the late Madeleine Albright, I’m an optimist who worries a lot. I hope you’re right that I’m excessively worried about our democracy. But I hope you’ll vote with my worries in mind.
Infidel. Since you brought up the Loudon County rape scandal I will address it. As you know, the charges by the right wing were that a boy, dressed in a skirt, invaded a girls bathroom and raped a girl. He did this because school policy allowed him into the girls bathroom. It is a good story . And the girl in question was sexually assaulted. However, the details of what happened have now come out in her testimony. One fact, the bathroom was not open to “transgender” boys. So that had nothing to do with the sexual assault. Second, the girl had INVITED the boy into the bathroom to talk (they had previously had sexual encounters). So, the sexual assault was real. The basis for blaming it on some “transgender bathroom policy” was a lie. ….Of course, as you always say, we should be open to facts…Here is part of the essay by Michelle Goldberg which explains it in more depth…
“But this week, during a juvenile court hearing, a fuller picture of Smith’s daughter’s ordeal emerged. She suffered something atrocious. It had nothing at all to do, however, with trans bathroom policies. Instead, like many women and girls, she was a victim of relationship violence.
Smith’s daughter testified that she’d previously had two consensual sexual encounters with her attacker in the school bathroom. On the day of her assault, they’d agreed to meet up again. “The evidence was that the girl chose that bathroom, but her intent was to talk to him, not to engage in sexual relations,” Biberaj, whose office prosecuted the case, told me. The boy, however, expected sex and refused to accept the girl’s refusal. As the The Washington Post reported, she testified, “He flipped me over. I was on the ground and couldn’t move and he sexually assaulted me.”
The boy was indeed wearing a skirt, but that skirt didn’t authorize him to use the girls’ bathroom. As Amanda Terkel reported in HuffPost, the school district’s trans-inclusive bathroom policies were approved only in August, more than two months after the assault. This was not, said Biberaj, someone “identifying as transgender and going into the girls’ bathroom under the guise of that.”
Thank you so much, Annie, for the shout out and link to my post. Mine, obviously, was tongue-in-cheek, but the principle is the same … we need politicians who won’t sell their integrity to the highest bidder. As for the debate issue … I think that in order to get your message across, you HAVE to participate in the debates. However, I think they should draw a line in the sand … if the opponent begins telling nonsensical lies, or screaming, or denigrating, then I would calmly stand up, say, “This debate is finished”, and walk off the stage. Then I would make sure my platform, my ideology, was published in EVERY news source EVERY day so that nobody would have the excuse they didn’t know what I stand for. Thanks again, my friend!
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You’re most welcome, Jill! It was a fine post, and as you see, it got me thinking–I always appreciate that.
Your suggestion about the candidate’s debate strategy if the opponent begins to lie or scream is excellent. And if it leads–as it very well may–to a whole lot of veryveryvery short debates…c’est la vie!
Getting out one’s platform and ideology is no easy task in these 24-hour news cycles. Very expensive–opening up the issue of our elections awash with money removed from public scrutiny courtesy of Citizens United, etc.
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Annie, I have been impressed with the commercials being run by Cheri Beasley, a judge running for the US Senate seat. She speaks of her career and endorsements from various groups. She does not run down the opposition and when a PAC tried to cherry pick some of her rulings, she responded with names of Sheriffs who supported her. Now some PAC may alter this, but her message and approach is refreshing.
I would like to see a shorter voting season with focused debates on issues – today we discussing the Environment. Tomorrow Healthcare….They could just omit contrived and overstated issues to garner votes. such as replacement theory, critical race theory, etc. Keith
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Keith, I’m glad to hear that Cheri Beasley seems as good up close as she’s appeared from what I’ve seen to date. Your description of her as “refreshing” rings true to my perceptions to date.
I like your idea about a shorter voting season with focused, issue-oriented debates. Hope you’re putting them into those letters to the editor!
Thanks very much!
Annie, I think the image at the top suggests the answer–campaigns should focus on encouraging supporters to vote. To counter dirty politics, a candidate might say “if you think the attacks on me are unfair, please vote.”
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Excellent, whungerford. And it would test the candidate’s ability to remain composed and rational.
Maybe YOU should run in “New NY 23rd”! 🙂
Such an interesting post. I’m an Abrams fan, too. Hit the positive, be everywhere, and as for the debate? I would probably do it, but with guidelines.
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Thanks, Denise. There are usually guidelines, but it takes a strong moderator to keep the candidates to them, and Mastriano is tough.
I got an email from a friend responding to the debate question very thoughtfully, so I’m adding his comments to this discussion.
“On the specifics of Mastriano and Shapiro debating, it would accomplish nothing. The art of politics is the art of addition. Anyone who is seriously considering voting for a delusional fascist like Mastriano cannot be reached, they are too far gone.
“The best Shapiro can do is hope that the remaining sane Republicans either don’t vote or vote for the Libertarian (assuming that there is one), but Shapiro doesn’t need to debate/legitimize Mastriano to achieve that goal. If I were advising Mr. Shapiro’s campaign I would tell him instead to go out, find the disaffected people who NEVER VOTE and convince them (somehow) that they must vote this time. I’m sure PA is as divided as the rest of the country, and independents are unicorns: chasing them is a fools errand. Go for first time voters. “