The Democrats’ Messaging Is Just Fine. Stop With the Bad Takes.

What’s the one thing you can always count on after an election?

You can always, no matter the result, expect to read all kinds of headlines and articles about how the Democrats are hand-wringing because of the results. Even if we win. The media just can’t get over writing that story, and I’m so sick of it.

We flipped the White House (and even took it away from an incumbent president!), kept our majority in the House, and we don’t yet have a result in the Senate. In the state legislatures, there was almost no change as far as who is in the majority. Is it true that we wanted to see a big blue wave wash over the country like it did in 2018? Of course! But not achieving that isn’t the same thing as losing big. Yet we get headlines like this: ‘A huge catastrophe’: Democrats grapple with congressional and state election losses

Furthermore, the standing thesis of these annoying articles is that the “Democrats aren’t good at messaging” and that we’re not reaching enough people, or the right people, or whatever. First of all, we turned out more voters than ever before. By a LOT. Second of all, I want someone to tell me exactly what miracle “messaging” the Democrats could create that would make the Tucker Carlsons and Ben Shapiros actually deliver that messaging to their viewers. In what fantasy world is any of our messaging going to reach people who want to get their news from Fox or Newsmax or OANN (shudder) or ultra-partisan right-wingers? That’s never going to happen.

On the flip side, if you’re wondering, “What are they writing about the Republicans?” well then, I’d say that’s an awfully good question. The GOP lost the White House, are still the minority for the House, and are headed to two runoff elections which could result in them losing their Senate majority. That’s pretty bad. One could even say they’re on the verge of being completely swept out of power. So I did a quick search on a handful of news site for “Republicans; election; losses” and came up with … nothing. Now, I didn’t do an exhaustive search or anything, but surely, losing the White House would produce some articles about how Republican messaging didn’t work in the suburbs or something like that, right? Nope.

This is how I see it:

After any election, we should always look at what we did well, what didn’t go so well, and where we can make improvements. Without evaluating, we can’t get better. We’ll need that information as we head in the 2022 midterms. But what we’re not going to do is frame this election as one where the Democrats did terribly and the Republicans did great. We’re definitely not going to do that.

I think it’s a big problem that the big political writers are so enamored with their tired post-election narratives that they’re not even looking at one of the big drivers of election behavior this year: The massive disinformation machine that half of the voting population gets their news from.

Half of the voting population don’t have the same facts that we do, much less see or hear any of the Democratic candidates’ messaging. In a democracy, each individual citizen gets to rely on their own knowledge, experience, and opinions to guide them as they make decisions at the ballot box. And right now, we are living in a world where half of the people making decisions not only don’t have the same information we do, but are actively being fed lies to scare them into voting against Democrats.

It also explains why Trump’s approval rating barely budged throughout his four years. There really was no major slump whether it was him calling the military “suckers and losers,” or putting kids in cages, or learning that he paid less than $1000 in taxes, or completely bungled the pandemic response.

Until we get serious about tackling the disinformation issue, spare me the dumb articles about how the Democrats don’t know how to message.

Ironically, the GOP really is at war with itself right now. Trump’s lawyers are attacking Republican leaders in Georgia, Newsmax is at war with Fox News, there’s a growing fight for who controls the RNC, Republican voters are in the streets saying they’ll never vote for a Republican again unless officials fight harder to keep Trump in the White House, and so on.

Here’s what we’re going to do instead

Right now, I don’t have any answers as to how we break up the Republican disinformation machine. We all have friends and/or family trapped in it, and I’m sorry to say that the ability for us all to pull them out of that loop is looking pretty bleak at the moment. But for starters, we can make sure it doesn’t spread.

I wrote this article to explain how easy it is for us all to spread disinformation accidentally. We do it when we adopt the Republican talking points, and we do it when we try to counteract their argument. The article explains how we can avoid these traps.

We can also focus our energies on our side of the aisle. Now that we’re in the White House, we have real power which is exciting. But it also means that the divisions in our coalition are going to show. That’s normal. What’s great about the Democratic party is that we do have such a broad umbrella. But it also means that at times, people at some point will feel like they’re getting rained on. Let’s acknowledge that we will have disagreements, but let’s treat each other in a civil manner.

Ours is a party that looks at governing as a way to help as many citizens as possible, in stark contrast to Republicans who only want to help the wealthiest, and we’re going to fix a lot of things that went really wrong these past 4 years. None of this is going to be easy considering the real divisions in this country, but let’s stick together and keep pressing forward.

Thank you for listening.


I’ve been updating the Georgia Senate Runoff post, so if you’re ready to jump on an opportunity, I’ve got a bunch of ideas waiting for you!

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10 replies

  1. I totally agree.

  2. This is such a damn good post. Thank you! I’m so sick of the narrative as well. The media cannot help itself. Beating an incumbent president is a big effing deal, even if that incumbent is a criminal/traitor/narcissist etc..It doesn’t matter because he had the largest megaphone and a right-wing media echo-chamber helping him out. We should be proud of what we did. I sure am. Let’s take Georgia and really make their heads explode!

  3. Thanks TokyoSand. Democrats should stick to their messaging better. They have a good story to tell, so they should tell it. The GOP message is not steeped in many facts, but it is bought into. I use this example often, but in the 2012 election, Republicans harped on the “failed stimulus” so much, that even Democrats believed it. Guess what – it did not fail; six econometrics firms said the stimulus was accretive to GDP, it just needed to be more.

    Healthcare, COVID-19 help, jobs, and climate change. Many Democrats and probably all Republicans would say the GOP is the party of job growth, at least in the White House. That simply is not true or borne out by the facts. There have been 13 GOP and 12 Dem White Houses since 1921, when data started being measured. The number of jobs created under Dem presidents dwarfs that created under GOP Whiet Houses.

    Trump inherited an economy in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth , unemployment rate under 5% and a stock market that had more than doubled under his predecessor, but he told every he did that. It did continue and after the tax cut, got a little better for a little while, but fell back to Obama growth levels before the COVID-19 recession.

    To be truthful, presidents get too much credit and too much blame for the economy. They provide headwinds and tailwinds. The outgoing president has done both. If I had to stand on issue for Dems – it is the party of healthcare. The outgoing president and Senate have sabotaged the ACA for years, and tried to repeal and replace with some of the most god-awful ideas. John McCain saved the ACA and the GOP from doing something incredibly stupid. Keith

  4. But what can we do against a lying cheating GOP

    • Ultimately, we’ll need both the media and the citizenry to stop rewarding them for lying. But that’s going to take a while. So, I’ll be focused on getting good messaging to Democrats and left-leaning folks.

  5. Deprogramming of cognitive damaged people takes a long time and a lot of effort. I recommend Gayatri Spivak’s take on the issue.

  6. Thank you for this great article TokoSand. You spoke at the heart of positive information.It takes a lot for some people who are being fed the misinformation pablum that the present President and most of the Republican party are spewing. Thank you!!!

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