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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Ossoff Lost

Sometimes, you repeat your own talking points so much that you start to believe them. Contrary to what we hear on TV and see in the papers, voters aren’t appalled by Trump any more than they were on the day they handed him the presidential victory. Nobody gives a flap about Comey or the Russians. Nobody – aside from those who thought this on November 8, of course – thinks that Trump’s presidency is a disaster. Many people think Trump is delivering for them. 

The only way for Democrats to win is to stop running against Trump and start running on their own message. Of course, that requires coming up with one. For instance, it has become very clear that voters care about immigration. We can fret all we want about how crazy it is to care about immigration more than you do about your own health insurance, but you got to work with what you have. What’s the Democrats’ new message on immigration? Yesterday I linked an article that had some good ideas on the subject. I hope some of these ideas start appearing in the Dem nationwide platform. 

Most importantly, the message of embracing losership, of “you didn’t build this”, of “privilege” needs to go. Many people perceive it as a weapon with which the rich and the mobile try to humiliate them. Remember how often Trump repeated the word “winning” in his campaign? It’s NLP, neurolinguistic programming. It’s something to look at and borrow.

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49 thoughts on “Ossoff Lost

  1. Stringer Bell on said:

    The only way for democrats to win is to stop being Republican-lite. Why wouldn’t voters choose the real thing?

    Ossoff flat out said no to even the idea of single payer, said no to the idea of raising taxes on wealthy people. I mean, any voter who likes to hear ‘I won’t increase taxes on the rich’ will really like to hear ‘I’m going to cut taxes on the rich’, which is what Republicans are about.

    You can’t out-Republican the Republicans. If you also run on the idea that government is bad and taxes should always be low, your platform is literally ‘I’m a Republican But Nicer’. Which may have worked in the past but not anymore. There are certain policy positions that the republicans have staked out, that no matter how hard the democrats try to co-opt them, they still end up losing. You see this in gun control. There are many democrats who’ve tried to be NRA-friendly, staunch defenders of the 2nd amendment and all that, but these losers always get trounced in elections anyway. Because the right-wing AM radio crowd will always brand them as gun grabbers. All it does is move the political center of gravity of the country towards the right, without creating any electoral gains for the democrats.

    I’ll say this again. The democratic party would prefer to lose while remaining center-right rather than win by going left.

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    • adrianaurelien on said:

      I mean, that’s not necessarily true on guns? There’s plenty of pro-gun Democrats who do well. The last time we managed to elect a Democratic governor in Ohio he got the NRA endorsement. In Montana, Steve Bullock succeeds because he’s not too anti-gun (although he’s no NRA darling.)

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  2. Stringer Bell on said:

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    • You can’t win anywhere in this country, except for a couple of wealthy districts, on the message of raising taxes. Single payer healthcare is also a losing issue. It’s simply what it is.

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      • Stringer Bell on said:

        Raising taxes on the rich. To your other point, I once again say that Bernie would’ve won! 😀

        I don’t know if making more concessions to republicans will win elections. God knows this party has tried.

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        • Here is the problem: you say “raise taxes” and people stop listening after that. They literally don’t hear the part about “on the rich.” And that is leaving aside the fact that most Americans see themselves being rich in the future.

          This is not a winning slogan. Maybe there should be a way around it, another way to say it. But this particular sentence is a loser.

          When Hillary said, as dishonest as that was, that Bernie wants the taxpayers to pay for college for Trump’s grandkids, that seems to have worked. Something like this is needed.

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          • Stringer bell on said:

            Bernie still remains the most popular politician in america, republican or democrat. He excited his base in a way not seen since Obama. Maybe we should look at what his platform was, and try to embrace it.

            Or we can keep hoping to attract that mythical ‘moderate’ republican voter by going right. And lose once again.

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            • “Bernie still remains the most popular politician in america, republican or democrat. He excited his base in a way not seen since Obama. Maybe we should look at what his platform was, and try to embrace it.”

              • It honestly sounds to me like you are living in a different country. Yes, Bernie excited HIS base, which proved to be a minority even within his party and against a wildly unpopular Clinton. The country at large is so beyond the 1970s rhetoric that Bernie offers. It’s cute, I agree, to hear these old-fashioned slogans and imagine that going back to the past is possible but it has less to do with reality than even Trump’s promises.

              Gosh, Bernie didn’t even speak to me in terms of his actual proposals, let alone to my students or neighbors.

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              • adrianaurelien on said:

                The “most popular in America” rating is based on approval ratings within a politician’s own state. The “second most popular” senator in America is Leahy, Vermont’s other senator. Maybe Vermonters are just fairly homogenous and easy to please.

                I do think Bernie is genuinely well liked outside of Vermont, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes. Lots of people admire him for his honesty and passion, but ultimately have very different beliefs than him and would never vote for him or anyone else with his policies.

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          • adrianaurelien on said:

            Also, in GA-6, they are rich.

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  3. Shakti on said:

    Price won that district by 23 points (R 20+) in the last election and the dude lost by 4 points in a district that’s been Republican since 1979, when Newt Gingrich took office.
    I don’t know the district, so gnashing teeth feels out of proportion.

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    • This will be of great comfort once the Republicans win the Congress yet again in 2018.

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    • Stringer bell on said:

      “Price won that district by 23 points (R 20+) in the last election ”

      But Trump won that district by 3 points. Clearly it is trending blue. Ossoff underperformed even Clinton.

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      • Shakti on said:

        Good point. However, Presidential election trends are different than Congressional election trends, especially in off years.
        This was a special election.

        Anyways, I’m not optimistic about the
        gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court.

        Yes, this matters. Electoral street fighters don’t exist in Democratic politics.

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        • Gerrymandering translates to “we aren’t even going to try to win, and here’s our catchall excuse.”

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          • Stringer bell on said:

            I’ve disagreed with you before on this and will continue to do so.

            It absolutely matters if your opponent is playing by different rules. It absolutely matters if your opponent makes it next to impossible for certain people to vote. It absolutely matters if your opponent shuts down 31 fucking DMVs in black districts, so they cannot get their IDs in time to vote.

            Catchall excuse is ‘Russia’. Not this.

            It should not be normal that democrats have to have a once in a lifetime politician (Obama) to overcome the negative effects of voter suppression, while Republicans win by default.

            ‘Either mobilize your people like in the French revolution, or we win’ is not democracy.

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          • anon on said:

            I think the democrats need to work on both messaging and the issue of gerrymandering – the latter not just because it will help them win, but because it’s a civil rights issue as Stringer Bell points out below. But they’re going to have a much easier time fixing gerrymandering if they actually start winning and gain the power to change the rules. It is possible to care both about changing the rules and playing the best possible game with the current rules at the same time, and I think the democrats desperately need to be working on both! In a similar vein, while demographics may work out for them in the long run, it won’t protect people now. Plus the republicans can keep gerrymandering the demographics out of the picture if the democrats never regain power, so we can’t rely on demographic change either.

            So I agree with Clarissa – democrats do need better branding in the short term. It can’t alienate the base obviously, but it still needs to appeal to swing voters in swing states. So who are those voters? It seems to be mostly lower and middle class white people in largely economically depressed rural and suburban areas who voted for Obama before and now for Trump (as mind blowing as that is). I think those votes generally translate to a vote for “change” in whatever shape candidate that may be. So I think this means two things: (1) Whatever messages they decide on, it better be in line with hope and change. Their policies need to be sold using similarly broad-appeal goodness so that it helps both their base and the swing voters. (2) They absolutely cannot run any more establishment candidates like Hillary (as qualified as I think she was, she was obviously not a good candidate for getting “change” voters). The same goes for Biden and Bernie – as much folksy charm as they’ve got, they’re too old and been playing the game too long to count as change. At this point, I even think Warren has been in the system too long. I think 1 term senators (like Obama was) are going to be the best bet. Or maybe a governor who hasn’t been on the national scene too long.

            Anyway. Sorry for the long post. I’ve been mulling these conflicting analyses from the election and special elections for a while, and responding helped me to clarify my thoughts!

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            • It’s a great comment, thank you.

              The issue of demographics is more complex than many people want to think. If 30% of Hispanics went with Trump, in spite of everything, this is not a good sign for Democrats.

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            • Demotrash on said:

              In Ohio, the executive branch is largely in charge of deciding on districts. Specifically, the governor, the auditor, the secretary of state, and a certain number of legislators (an equal number from both parties) decide where the lines are drawn. And without fail, the executive branch is full of Republicans at census time and they gerrymander Democrats out of power in the legislature. So gerrymandering is a problem, but it happened because we failed to elect Democrats to statewide office. I’m sure other states have similar stories. If we elect Republicans in 2018 and get gerrymandered once again, that’s on us.

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        • Fie upon this quiet life on said:

          Shakti – I also think that the gerrymandering case is important. I don’t really think that the democrats would have to change their message at all if voter district lines were drawn more fairly. (That is – not clearly favoring Republicans.)

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  4. Stringer bell on said:

    “This was a special election.”

    Point taken. This is not gloom and doom. The GOP specifically chose these people to work in the Trump administration, so that the ensuing vacancy would have the least chance to turn blue. Given that, I think the results are not too bad. This was never supposed to be competitive.

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  5. “That’s too aggressive and not touchy feely enough.”

    And how would you have reacted to someone proposing “Make America Great Again!” before a certain someone came along…

    The American electorate likes rich people and likes aggressive assertive candidates. Run with that or stay with Shakesville and continue to lose, whatever. I’ve got no dog in the fight anymore since the chances of me actually living in the US again are very, very remote.

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  6. Demotrash on said:

    Have you seen this article? It’s food for thought.

    http://prospect.org/article/tale-two-populisms

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    • Great article. Thank you! Finally, an insightful piece on the subject.

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      • Demotrash on said:

        That article is making me look at things in a whole new way. It also reaffirms to me that we should run a Washington outsider in 2020 (my top choice is Governor Steve Bullock, although I’m keeping an open mind.)

        Speaking of Bullock, this article talks about him and Montana a lot. Not as good as the other one I linked and it has a terrible headline, but worth checking out, if only to get familiar with someone who’s probably running in four years. Btw, I looked up videos of Brian Schweitzer, Montana’s previous Democratic governor, and he is so much like Trump in personality (but perfectly fine politically), no wonder Donald did so well there.

        http://prospect.org/article/can-democratic-party-be-white-working-class-too

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  7. Stringer bell on said:

    Jesus, even I wouldn’t vote for this guy.

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    • Stringer bell on said:

      He’s shaking his head and tut-tutting YOU, the potential voter. The only person I’d take this kind of attitude from would be my teenage son! 😀

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    • What’s wrong with the ad?

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      • anon on said:

        The only thing anyone would remember about that ad is the tweeting, not the candidate or his message. I understand doing something different to get people’s attention… but this was not a winning message.

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    • Shakti on said:

      This is what they came up with in an expensive ad campaign? Where are the emojis? Sententious music doesn’t go with tweeting. Also, nobody lets their phone keyboard make noises when they tap.
      This is such a body language disaster. tap tap tap tap bloop –look up in annoyance. Repeat.
      What’s wrong with his speaking voice? And what kind of sad simulated twitter doesn’t have some hashtag or website promo?

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  8. Shakti on said:

    “I went to college and I’m as dumb as hell!”

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  9. Shakti on said:

    Like

    • Shakti on said:

      Like

    • It’s curious that people are only now noticing that Republican voters detest Obama care. As if “repeal Obamacare” hadn’t been a surefire way to draw the crowds into ecstasy for any candidate during the election.

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      • Shakti on said:

        The Underpants Gnome theory of anything is a recipe for disappointment.

        1)Repeal Obamacare
        2)????
        3) Profit!

        She’s dumb as a rock and resents children. She went to college and was an ER nurse and somehow confuses EMTALA (which has been around since 1986) with insurance. Why doesn’t she shake her fist at Ronald Reagan for signing that bill if she’s so pissed? She probably voted for him too, as old as she is. EMTALA guarantees stabilizing treatment, nothing else. It doesn’t mean and has never meant “free.”

        “I don’t have a child because I didn’t know if I could afford it.”
        Even generously assuming that she could bear children at the age of 50, this is well before Obamacare.

        Like

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