Dear Democratic Campaign:
I’m getting worried.
For weeks on end, you’ve been hitting on the stupidities that come from the mouths of many of the Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney. Frankly, I don’t blame you. Every week gives us another fine example of lame thinking and dishonest pandering. The policies they propose are shot through with the purpose of enriching the rich – so much so that if the only ones who voted for them were those who benefit from the policies, they’d lose in historic landslides nearly everywhere.
But I fear that this is causing the Democrats to miss the forest for the trees.
What the public (remember them?) wants and needs to hear is not why they should fear the GOP and vote against them. What they want and need to hear is why they should vote for you to handle the fiscal and economic mess we’re in. People are still unemployed, still losing their homes, still worried about their future. As the Clinton campaign reminded itself repeatedly, “it’s the economy, stupid!”. And it still is.
This should be a layup, folks. The House Republicans have spent the last two years blocking your every economic and fiscal action. Even actions Republicans supported in the past. Even policies Republicans created. Even things that would, over time, save people a lot of money. Even steps that would wind down an expensive war. They’ve been playing the negative card without relent. People are looking for those who actually do something about the bind we’re in, and that can be the Obama administration.
What you need to do is to stop talking about what concerns smaller, activist cadres. Just stop it. Period. Instead, put as much time and effort and money as you can into what you would do about the economy. It is the economy, stupid! And you apparently need to be reminded of that.
Show people, in detail, what the Republicans stopped you from doing about it. Point by point. It’s not the points themselves that count, as much as the cumulative case. Show what you were able to get done in spite of them – again, point by point, and it is about how it all adds up. Focus like a laser on the House, since that’s the body you don’t control and the body that’s easiest to run against because of the aforementioned stupidities. And show them what the additional income from taxing the rich just a little bit more can do to treat our fiscal illnesses. (Actually, the added income could do quite a lot.)
Then show them what you intend to do in the next term. Show them how you’d treat housing debt. Student debt. Small business debt. Credit card debt. Government debt. Show them an aggressive, effective treatment from a regulated-free-market viewpoint. Show them what you’d do to encourage growth in customers and lessen wasteful consumer spending. Propose ways to sensibly regulate in order to direct investment money into real investments instead of being forever stuck in a loop of margins to derivatives to debt swaps to currency transfers. Show them how you’d treat corporations as corporations instead of as people, and treat the wrongdoers in them as criminal people. And show yourselves to be open to listening to other ideas. Forget ‘did you say something?’, ‘shut up’, and especially ‘look who’s saying it!‘ – strip all such things from your vocabulary, on all matters, permanently. Ideas and proposals must stand on their own merit.
I know, it’s fun to get into a bashing match. But frankly, they’re better at that game than you are, so don’t play it. Don’t say, ‘Fear them!’; that’s taking care of itself just fine. Say, ‘We can do it!’. Give them a positive reason to vote for you. And do it on the one and only set of subjects that matters to two-thirds of the public, a set of subjects you’re losing on at the moment.
It’s the economy, stupid. The less you focus on a positive economic plan, the less likely you’ll win in November. The election, both presidential and congressional, depends on it.