The Democratic Party, severely wounded after Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss in the 2016 presidential election, is in crisis-mode after failing to inspire Americans with a clear message.
While the rallying cry to “Resist!” may appeal to hardcore progressives who hate Trump, average Americans concerned about jobs don’t seem to be heeding the call to arms.
Despite persistent and relentless negative media coverage of President Trump, he still receives as much as a 50% approval rating depending on the polls. (Lower poll ratings for Republican politicians are often due to an oversampling of Democrats.)
After losing recent special elections, many Democrats are wondering how to reach voters.
Do You Love Trumps Hate?
The crisis in messaging started before the 2016 election. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams spent much of the election analyzing then-candidate Donald Trump’s “persuasion” versus Hillary Clinton’s.
For example, he noted that the Hillary Campaign slogan “Love Trumps Hate” actually scores more positively for Trump. Among other reasons, the phrase “Love Trumps Hate” can be heard as “love Trump” or loving that Trump hates bad things (like terrorism).
“This is the sort of mistake you never see out of the Trump campaign,” Adams wrote. “The slogan is pure amateur hour. It accomplishes the opposite of its intent, and you can’t fail harder than that.”
More recently, the Democrats announced a new series of sticker designs that received almost universal condemnation on social media. The “spectacularly bad” designs favored powdered blue and retro fonts with phrases such as:
“Democrats 2018 – I mean, have you seen the other guys?”
The stickers have been compared to everything from baby shower invitations to advertisements for a children’s reading program at a library.
One Twitter user wrote: “strongly questioning the palette/font abuses of faux urban cupcake shop crossed with cliche cheeky 2011 wedding invites, for starters.”
Another announced: “after much deliberation I’ve decided these remind me of flyers for a women’s Bible study group.”
Such sentiments are in strong contrast to the “resist” message portrayed on some of the stickers.
Progressives Lament Lack of Strong Messaging
Progressives who want to move forward with causes such as universal health care are frustrated at finding efforts thwarted. Is the messaging part of the problem?
Mehdi Hasan at the left-leaning Intercept perhaps says it all with the title to his article: “Memo to Democrats: You Need a Clear Message for Universal Health Care.”
Citing confusion among the American public about the name Obamacare versus the Affordable Care Act – many believe they are different programs – Hasan outlines the challenges Democrats have in articulating their healthcare vision. Part of the problem stems from confusing terms like “individual mandate” or “insurance exchanges.”
“As for those on the left like Bernie Sanders and – belatedly – Elizabeth Warren…. they may have a clear and inspiring policy alternative but whether they have a clear and inspiring message for it remains to be seen,” he writes.
Rich Democrats Try to Lead the Way
Silicon Valley billionaires Mark Pincus, co-founder of Zynga, and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, are attempting to change the narrative by launching “Win the Future,” a new project designed to generate input into the Democratic Party Platform.
“I think it’s nearly certain that it (the Democratic Party) hasn’t learned the lessons of 2016 yet,” Hoffman told CNBC. “There are some very great voices. … But as an overall whole, as a party, I think they’re, frankly, still getting their act together on presenting a coherent view of the future that they want to build to.”
However, Hoffman might have consulted with Scott Adams first prior to settling on the name “Win the Future”: The acronym for “Win the Future” is WTF. What the…???
Image source: Wikipedia