Preparing for Camp Wellstone

I’m excited to be attending Camp Wellstone which starts on Friday July 14th in Minneapolis. It’s a three-day training class for progressives who are interested in running for office, working on a campaign, and/or organizing for progressive change. It’s sponsored by Wellstone Action in St. Paul, MN. www.wellstone.org @wellstoneaction

To prepare for Camp Wellstone, I did some research during the past few days on what I believe is the most critical issue for progressives right now: What is the Democratic message for 2018? It was not hard to find articles to read; I just googled “2018 Democratic Message” and found 32,300,000 results.

My research was both encouraging and discouraging. It’s encouraging that everyone seems to agree that Democrats need a better message in 2018 and 2020 than we had in 2016.  Unfortunately there is not an agreement on what that message should be, there is not much time to figure out the message before the 2018 elections start, and even if we get a better message, it might not make a difference.

I’m not going to offer any opinions here. I’ll wait until after Camp Wellstone to let you know what I learned. But I will share some of the interesting comments and opinions that I read in the last few days about how the Democrats should be messaging in 2018. Some of these things may contradict each other. So here it goes:

  • Democrats do not need a general campaign message. They need a new economic message. In the words of Chuck Schumer, “We need a strong, bold, sharp-edged and common-sense economic message.”
  • Opposition to Trump is not enough.
  • Trump is so distinctive that it will be hard to persuade voters that other Republican candidates are carbon copies of the president. Trump is a republican outlier. I see him as an out-liar (that is my joke that I personally made up).
  • We need an economic message that appeals to blue-collar workers and rural voters. The message needs to cut across class and racial lines.
  • The answer is not to go softer on civil rights and cultural issues, it’s to go stronger on economic issues.
  • We need a new economic contract for America.
  • The Sanders-Warren wing of the party might want the following in the new economic contract: a $15 minimum wage, a $1 trillion infrastructure investment, leading the green industrial revolution, fair taxes on the rich and corporations, tuition-free colleges, and Medicare for All.
  • A progressive economic message should attack big corporations and Wall Street and advocate for an increased role by government in reducing income inequalities.
  • A progressive economic message should respond to the challenges to automation and monopoly.
  • Unfortunately, when it comes to the economy, Democrats talk in paragraphs and Republicans talk in headlines.
  • Possible 2018 economic taglines: Strong Together, Living Wages for Every Worker, Healthcare for All, A Better Deal, Have You Seen the Other Guys.
  • There is no winning national economic message, there are only winning local economic messages.
  • The first step in improving Democratic performance in rural communities is to listen to what they are saying.
  • More emphasis on jobs, less on transgender bathrooms.

Below are links to two articles that I found especially interesting. The first is about how the democrats might finally have a chance to win on the tax issue:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/democrats-finally-have-a-chance-to-win-on-taxes/2017/04/13/c16f5dc6-2065-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.d2642843be3c.  From the article, “The only three things certain in life are death, taxes . . . and Democrats losing the debate on taxes. But 2017 could be the year when Republicans are on the defensive on tax reform.” Corporate tax reform should be tied to corporations providing more jobs and to Trump releasing his tax returns.

The second article discusses the increased polarization between Republicans and Democrats. https://www.voanews.com/a/mixed-political-marriages-an-issue-on-rise/3705468.html Here is a quote from it: “In 1958, 33 percent of Democrats wanted their daughters to marry a Democrat, and 25 percent of Republicans wanted their daughters to marry a Republican. But by 2016, 60 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans felt that way.” Ask yourself, are you OK with your son or daughter marrying someone from the other political party?

Let me end with a discouraging observation from another article: the primary conflicts between the two parties are not economic issues but are questions of national identity, race, and morality. These questions are harder to answer with compromised solutions.

Tune in next week to find out what I learned while camping this week-end.

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