Democrats love to be soft technocrats. It’s an age old problem in terms of being too soft and nice in political campaigns and too agreeable in the legislative arena. But this has in fact gotten worse since the party became more driven by elitism and the wealthy donor class.
A few key points.
A. Democracy must be protected but it doesn’t move voters. What’s more critical for winning an election, droning on about January 6, something the vast majority of Americans either never cared about or have moved past or talking about the Supreme Court, reproductive freedom and guns? Emotion wins. Sorry democracy advocates, most people don’t care about Trump scandals and even fewer people are obsessive about other GOP scandals. So protect democracy but don’t make it the centerpiece of the Democrats brand.
B. Populism wins. We’ve learned that the last few years and Democrats need to play that game. A guy like John Fetterman in Pennsylvania can absolutely play that game. Stop letting the Republicans be the populist party- define them as an elitist party that might talk like populist but governs for the 1%. They talk about smaller government, but see government and judges as the remedy for everything so they are actually the big government party. Keep in mind there was some common ground between Trump’s supporters and Obama’s where plenty of voters supported both candidates. Those voters were attracted to the populism element of their respective messages even if they were on the opposite side of the coin.
C. People who vote, especially in midterms are driven by emotion. Emotion drives elections. The establishment Democrats like to suck the emotion out of the Democratic message in the name of being non-offensive to (supposed) swing voters and think they win by saying the Republicans are offensive without really defining the offense except in very technocratic terms (they are anti-democracy, etc). How many times do we have to lose elections like that?
The recent events involving abortion and gun safety represent a prime opportunity to grab back some populism to the Democratic message — and the party needs to seize the day versus falling back on old-losing habits. A failure to do so means the Democratic brand will become more stale, more distant from reality and in fact not even national in scope.
Democrats face a stark choice – pivot now to run on populist emotion, highlighting reproductive freedom and opposition to firearms or risk permanent national oblivion.