Additional Thoughts on the 2020 Primary

I’d like to share a few kernels of wisdom from Anat Shenker-Osorio, a political messaging expert I’ve been following closely the last few months. (Her podcast, Brave New Words, is brilliant and delightful and it will give you hope.)

  • Vote your hopes, not your fears. We should stop trying to guess which Democrat people who may have voted for Trump might like. There’s literally no telling what will happen! Any of the Democrats could probably win in November, and any of them could very easily lose. We should vote for who inspires us, and trust they will inspire others — turnout is arguably the biggest driver of electability, after all. We can’t take anything for granted, and we’ll have to work hard to win. But we CAN win. Speaking of which…
  • Democrats need to stop acting like losers, wringing our hands about whether we can beat Trump. We just trounced the GOP in the 2018 midterms! We actually have the wind at our backs and we should act like it, because nobody wants to back a losing team. All this hand-wringing is bad for us and bad for our cause. We have history, morality, common sense, and the last election on our side so let’s go out there and win like winners! Anat gets into these and other helpful insights on the GOTMFV podcast episode, “We CAN have nice things.”
  • We shouldn’t try to please everyone. Anat says a winning political message will “engage the base, persuade the middle, and alienate the opposition.” Engage the base doesn’t mean just turn them out to vote, it means get them energized to repeat your message, tell their friends, volunteer, donate, etc. And yes, it’s okay to alienate the opposition! We don’t need Trump’s base to win, and we’d never get them anyway. We need everybody else to show Trump’s loyalists what a small minority they are. This approach worked for Black Lives Matter, it worked for the Parkland kids, it’s even working for Trump. Dig into this idea with Anat’s podcast. 

Another great listen that gave me hope is Dan Pfieffer’s guest spot on KQED’s Political Breakdown. He reassures me about some of Sanders’s strengths and that Bloomberg has a narrowing path to the nomination. He also has some compelling insights about how Dems can beat Trump (attack his strengths not his weaknesses) and turn the page on Trumpism AFTER beating him (like turning DC and Puerto Rico into states).  

Lastly, a PSA from our friend Ron Kelly:

Please Don’t Trash Our Candidates – or Their Supporters

We all agree a second term of Trump’s racist cruelty will further destroy our democracy, and our climate. 

Whoever it is, one of our primary candidates will be our nominee. Republicans are already fully unified and working hard. It’s going to take all of us working hard together to elect our nominee and deny Trump another term.

Push your favorite candidate. Criticize policies you oppose. But you know personal insults directed at other candidates or their supporters will depress their later willingness to work for our eventual nominee, and for down-ballot Democratic candidates. Some of the worst insults are posted by trolls working to depress Democratic campaign volunteers and turn-out. Please don’t help them.

Vote Blue No Matter Who

Ron Kelly, Berkeley