It’s no secret that the Democrats’ messaging is a failure. Despite having the most popular policy positions and values, election after election is lost. Democrats have the least elected positions in the House, Senate, Governor-ships and local positions combined in 100 years. Messaging is a huge part of the problem. The recent branding of “Have you seen the other guys?” and other sorry attempts at messaging will do us more harm than good. If we’ve learned anything from the election of 2016, simply not being the other guy is not good enough. We have to stand for something to get people excited and to get out the vote.
What do Republicans stand for? Easy. “Less taxes, less government.” Four words. It entails their entire message. What do Democrats stand for? Give me 45 minutes and we can explain in a thorough, detailed manner with visuals and a pamphlet. That simply doesn’t work. Democrats need a message that’s short, sweet and to the point that voters can get excited about.
“More freedom, more opportunities” needs to be our new theme. Just about everything we defend and fight for falls within the umbrella of this message.
We want to give everyone the chance to be free and live their lives. Almost everything we stand for is about freedom – freedom to be LGBTQ and not get persecuted for who you are, free to drink water without getting poisoned by greedy companies, freedom to control your own body, freedom from systematic racism so you can live your life in peace. Legalization of pot, removal of private prisons, the list goes on and on. Liberty is something modern day Democrats do not do a good enough job at saying is a primary focus and at the core of our message. Instead, we allow others to define us as the party who wants to strip away personal freedoms.
We’re not about giving out handouts and making all results the same, but we want people to have opportunities to move up the ladder and reach a better life. Conservatives typically translate this to mean “Let’s make the results all equal” but that’s not what we’re fighting for – we want a level playing field and for the opportunities to be the same, so people can truly decide their own fates with hard work, personal responsibility, etc. Fair tax structure, strong unions, addressing climate change so we have a planet to live on, free public tuition, living wages, all of it has to do with opportunity to live and get the American Dream, something that is essentially dead for millions of people due to a lack of opportunity. The illusion of the American Dream still exists, but we recognize that for many it’s not a reality, and Democrats fight to make it real.
‘More freedom, more opportunities‘ also undercuts the RNC who constantly attempt to use liberty/freedom, implying we are not. They have a stranglehold on the personal freedom narrative implying that Democrats are simply about taking away freedoms – which is the furthest thing from the truth. Our messaging doesn’t counter that, despite our policies doing so.
We need a strong, unified rally cry that broadens our tent, while fighting for a better future, and I believe ‘More freedom, more opportunities‘ is the message we need.
All opinions are my own and not representative of any other organization, company or person other than me. -James
James is resident of Auburn, a member of the Auburn Democrats, the Maine Young Dems, Maine People’s Alliance, and the Communication’s Coordinator of the Androscoggin County Young Dems