About a year and a half ago, I started this blog and a Twitter account by the same name hoping that I would be able to share intelligent and insightful observations about local and national politics. I figured if I was especially intelligent and insightful, I’d have hundreds of followers to my blog and thousands of followers to my Twitter account after a couple of years.
Even though I’ve written some intelligent blog posts (in my humble opinion) and tweeted numerous clever tweets (again IMHO), I’m going to fall way short. I’m OK with that since I’m not being paid by the New York Times or the Washington Post for my writings. But in this post, I have a suggestion that I think the Democratic Party should adopt.
The Wilderness Podcast
It starts with me listening to a podcast, “The Wilderness” by Jon Favreau from Crooked Media. Here is a description from their website:
The Wilderness tells the story of a party finding its way out of the political wilderness through conversations with strategists, historians, policy experts, organizers, and voters. In fifteen chapters, the series explores issues like inequality, race, immigration, sexism, foreign policy, media strategy, and how Democrats can build a winning majority that lasts.
The sixth chapter of the podcast stopped me cold. I had to listen to it twice. It’s called “The Big We.” A description from the website: How can Democrats build a multiracial coalition that adds up to an electoral majority? A discussion about whether it’s necessary or possible to win back voters we’ve lost.
A lot of this chapter is a discussion about white, non-college-educated voters and Obama-Trump voters. Should the Democratic Party try to win back white, non-college-educated voters who voted for Trump or should it expand the number of young, minority, and college-educated voters?
The conclusion, which I found compelling, is that it should be the first alternative. The Democratic Party has to appeal to some significant percentage of white, non-college-educated voters to be successful. Go listen to the entire chapter to get the full discussion but let me provide two points.
First, for the party to be successful, we must win a majority in the Senate and win the presidency. We are stuck with the system that the founding fathers designed, which gives both North Dakota and California two senators each so we needed senators in states like Missouri and North Dakota. And, to win the presidency, we need to get 270 electoral votes so we need to win states like Missouri and North Dakota.
Second, white, non-college-educated voters are not a monolithic voting block driven by racial animosity. One data point provided in the podcast is that Hillary won just 47 percent of white, non-college-educated voters who disagree with the statement, “White people in the United State have certain advantages due to the color of their skin”–compared with 88 percent of those voters who agree with that statement. Many white, non-college-education voters will base their votes on issues like supporting gay marriage, abortion rights, unions, and higher minimum wage.
The Democratic Party is the Big Tent Party, which is both its blessing and its curse. The sixth chapter of “The Wilderness” concludes by making the point that we do not need separate policies that appeal to the many factions within the big tent. Struggling black families in Chicago and struggling white farmers in Iowa have the same needs. Democratic party policies to improve health care, improve education, and reduce income inequality will appeal to everyone who is not a racist, an abortion hater, or a billionaire.
Which brings us back to the chapter name “The Big We.” Which brings us to the reason I am writing this blog.
Back on June 7, 2017, I wrote a blog post that said the Democratic Party has a messaging challenge. Republicans can summarize what they believe in nine words: “Lower Taxes, Less Government Regulation, Strong Military, No Abortions.” In the age of Trump, it’s even more succinct: “Make America Great Again.”
I proposed in that post that the message that Democrats should adopt for 2018 and 2020 is, “We all do better when we all do better.” Everyone reading this will recognize that as the famous quote from Paul Wellstone. It’s nine words that are optimistic and bring the country together. Here is my old blog post:
The traditional emphasis of the quote is on the optimistic “Do Better.” We all want Americans to do better. After listening to the sixth chapter of “The Wilderness,” I think the emphasis should be on “We.” Unlike Trump, who tries to divide Americans, Democrats need to be seen as the party that unites Americans. You can hear this sentiment when Obama talked about an America that is not made up of Red States or Blue States but “the United States of America,” when Tim Walz talks about “One Minnesota,” when Dean Phillips says “Everyone’s Invited,” and Beto O’Rourke visiting all 254 counties in Texas. It even has historical roots in “We, the people.”
When the Democrats are in charge of the government, WE all do better – minorities, whites, college-educated, non-college-educated, Democrats, Independents and, yes, Republicans.
Here is how the Wellstone quote should be typed:
WE all do better when WE all do better
WE all do better when WE all do better
Obama’s summarized his campaign in the word “Hope.” I think the Democrats can summarize our message in 2020 in one word: “WE”
I want purple hats that say: WE