Liberals and Democrats have a message problem.
No, it’s not our message. Our message is solid. The problem is how we present that message.
In 2018, every Democrat’s motto should be, “They tried to steal your healthcare.” After this debacle with the American Healthcare Act, we should be hammering them: “This Republican I’m running against is in the same party that tried to steal your healthcare, destroy Medicare, and upend Medicate.”
That should be a left-wing talking point. Everyone from the highest ranking Democrat in government to state senators needs to be hammering the Republicans on this. It shouldn’t matter if said Republicans played a role or not. “You are part of the same party that tried to steal the healthcare of 24 million people.”
In an ideal world, that would be what happens. But this isn’t an ideal world, and we’ll be lucky if the Democrats learned from 2012 and don’t try to run from Obamacare again in 2018. Clinton embraced it and she won the popular vote — by 3 million votes — and only lost because of an archaic system put in place to secure the power of slave-holding states.
Will they run in from it 2018, or perhaps come up with something equally stupid so they can repeat 2012? Time will tell.
This is part of what I mean when I say liberals and Democrats have a message problem. Here’s another example: discussions of racism and intersectionality.
Racism is huge problem in this country; both the overt kind and the structural kind that underlines most of the American identity. And liberals are right to address it. But for the side so steeped in social science, you’d think we’d have a better grasp of human psychology than this.
Related: This Black Republican Senator Just Put The ENTIRE GOP Narrative On Racism In The Garbage (VIDEO)
There’s a word that gets banded around in these discussions: “privilege.” I don’t know who coined that word, but they were clearly someone who didn’t care about treating the problem. The concept is sound; even the poorest white man has unearned social capital that the poorest black man doesn’t. In theory, the word makes sense. In practice, the word comes across as accusatory and condescending.
Sure, it’s “privilege” in the theoretical sense I can always find a Band Aid that’s my skin color, since it reinforces the idea that my particular skin tone is the default. But honestly, can I really consider it a “privilege” when I’m struggling to feed my family? Even if you weren’t buying what Maslow was selling, there’s still something to be said for “basic needs outweigh everything else.”
Race and class in the United States are intrinsically related. Treating one will go far in treating the other — but you can’t treat them independent of each other. Sure, the solution won’t always be easy to swallow for a poor white guy — like Affirmative Action, which really does help — but this is where the marketing comes in. Since marketing is applied psychology, we liberals, with all our theories anchored in social science, should be good at it.
Consider this: makers of cough syrup don’t market it on how bad it tastes, even though we know it tastes bad. They market it by saying it treats your cough. How it helps you.
Liberals need to start thinking about how we can market our ideas and policies in such a way that it becomes: “this is what fixing racism can do for you.” And make no mistake — our policies are geared at making life better for everyone. Everyone will benefit as we treat racism. Everyone will benefit when we make healthcare better. Everyone benefits as we treat income inequality.
We won’t be able to reach everyone. But if we win over even one percent of the people who hear our message, isn’t it worth it?
Liberals are offering up the cough syrup for a sick society, while right-wingers are offering up the candy. And for the longest, liberals have been emphasizing how nasty this cough syrup tastes, without doing a spectacular job of explaining how it would make the cough better.
Is it any wonder that when our message sticks, it’s often in spite of itself?