Sunday, July 23, 2017

Democrats come up with a new slogan to try to get people to forget they are Democrats

Linguist George Lakoff has been bugging the Democrats for years to improve their framing of issues. They've made some progress in some ways. But the results in 2016 up and down the ticket shows the Dems have a long way to go. Not just on framing. But framing is important.

And the Democratic Party are still so enchanted - and paid by their donors to be enchanted - with the neoliberal doctrine that their reflex response to a defeat is, unfortunately, exactly like that of the Republicans. When the Republicans lose, they decide that it was because they weren't Republican enough. When the Dems lose, they also decide it was because they weren't Republican enough. This is known, in one the politer forms, as an intensity gap.

This is a stunningly appropriate example, from the 2014 Kentucky Senate campaign. The Democratic candidate using this ad lost:

Democrats run trying to convince voters they're not really Democrats. Then they wonder why more people don't vote Democratic. Or why people are unclear what the Democratic Party stands for.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer was on This Week today. Chuck Schumer from the solidly Democratic state of New York. Here was me after listening to him:

Here he is, starting around 31:45:

You can't make this stuff up. Schumer says than on Monday, the Democratss will issue a set of economic proposals to be called a "Better Deal."

They must be using some consulting firm specializing in the blandest slogans possible. Because this is on the level of "Stronger Together."

Chuck promises it's "not going to be left or right." Of course not! Maybe they should call it the Better Bipartisan Deal instead.

With a drooling Troglodyte in the White House and a Republican Congress that just made the word "Obamacare" very popular, the Democrats can't come up with anything bolder than a Better Deal That Is Not Going To Be Left Or Right.

Cenk Uygar likes to say that corporate Democrats are "paid to lose" by their donors. This is another piece of evidence for that case.

Chuck does say the Better Deal will be "bold" and "sharp", so there's that. If you took a wild guess that what Chuck had to say about it in his preview to the rollout sounded a lot like the same vague list of vague ideas that the Dems usually roll out, why, you'd be right!

He even puts the list into another three-point list. One of three points is that they want to give the American people "the tools they need to be compete in the 21st century." Which is Herbert Hoover/neoliberal-speak for, "Create jobs? Are you serious? No, we're going to let you go to college with a lifetime of student debt peonage and if you can't support yourself, it's your own fault, losers!"

This is exactly the kind of problem Lakoff has been talking about. Chuck says, "We are united on economic issues." Uh, no, Chuck, economic issues are what Democrats are least united around.

Chuck's preview sounds for all the world like a throwback to the DLC circa 1990. Talk vaguely about economic ideas while they carefully avoid any kind of proposal that might provoke serious discomfort on Wall Street. He talks about how the Dems are divided between what he calls "the old Obama coalition" and voters who deserted the Democrats for Trump, "the blue collar workers." That phrase "the old Obama coalition" is one to watch. That sounds like a suspiciously DLCish euphemism for "black people." And Chuck's whole This Week presentation was conspicuously missing any explicit references to defending the rights of women, minorities and immigrants.

It also is DLCish in that it avoids something that should be a no-brainer: making segregationist voter suppression a central focus. They've been beating the Russia-Russia-Russia drum since last summer, and rightly so. But they've often been weird in the way they went about it.

What they have so far failed to do is to define the Russian election-meddling as inextricably bound with the voter-suppression problem. Because the remedies to protect the vote against foreign election tampering would also block a lot of the Republican voter-suppression program, as well. Things like paper backups for voting machines, regular audits of vote counts, monitoring and quick response to false information being circulated about voting locations and schedules, and regular checks of voter rolls to prevent voters from being inappropriately altered would be good backstops against foreign interference. And also to the Republican voter-suppression program.

Digby Parton picks up on this extremely important point at the end of Donald Trump’s voter fraud panel is all about his insecurities about losing the popular vote Salon 07/20/2017, which deals with Trump's commission against "voter fraud" that is really a voter-suppression commission:

There is one slight mystery about all this, however. With all this talk of our electoral system being vulnerable to fraud the commission isn’t the least bit interested in the subject of Russian interference in the election. That seems odd.

Of course if the goal of the hacking was to create chaos sow the seeds of doubt about the integrity of our democracy the Russian government is probably are wondering why they went to the trouble. Kris Kobach and his friends are doing a fine job of that all on their own. If he could manage to get all that voter information for them in one place that would be very helpful for future hacking. They’re pulling for his success if no one else is.

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