Milford Dispatches # 6

Dispatch #6                MESSAGING                                             Corey Robin (+)  The Nation, 4/25/2011  ‘Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom”  Reviewed by Jay Gilchrist

Several of us have identified Democratic Party messaging as flawed and seek a cogent series of messages to the voter.  The above short article purports to identify the problem that causes our flawed messaging.  The powerful establishment that surrounds Obama seems convinced that you can’t win in 2012 with a progressive message.  Indeed, Jim Messina*, the guy who succeeded Rahm Emanuel and is now slated to head the re-election campaign believes in a strong center right position and perhaps he has no faith in grassroot activism to assist in the campaign.  It’s his way or the highway.  Progressives will have to vote for Obama, what other reasonable choice to they have?

They are very likely to not vote at all.  After the midterms the Democrats froze federal employee’s wages and agreed to extend tax breaks for the rich and shied away from fixing the tax code.  Might as well let Republicans get elected.

We’ve selected our challenge: to give Democrats a reason to forget their disappointment and at least go vote one last time. We can’t count on people dismissing the conservative line as delusional this time. They’ve bought it for forty years.

First we should agree why the messages are flawed.  Then we need better ones.  So, is it true that a pure progressive message will fail like it has in the past?  It did not work for Mondale.  The author claims we progressives do not understand the attractiveness of the ultra conservative message. Grasp that and maybe we have a chance.

Here’s the conservative message: “The market equals freedom; government is the threat to freedom.”  Here’s ours: “Democrats support family values too.” “We reduced the deficit once and will again.” “We fixed welfare.” “We redistribute wealth for fairness.”  It translates to ‘Republican Light’.  Much of our Democratic messaging amounts to portraying citizens as weak, needy and passive.  It’s comes across as condescending.  Younger voters don’t even remember what these refer to. It sounds false.

The author suggests we should develop the idea that “The Market is really a source of restraint and government is the true instrument of freedom.”  If we find imaginative ways to repeat this we may find voters find it so jarring a concept they may ask how can that be?  We can posture government as the individual’s instrument for liberating us from our ‘rulers’ in the private sphere. 

How about, “Let’s break the back of private autocracy’?


(+) Robin  Corey   Professor of  Political Science,                     

CUNY Graduate Center

*Obama’s Enforcer, The Nation, April 18th


Republicans are counting on seniors liking the sound of protecting their grandchildren by cutting the deficit especially if they themselves are grandfathered – protected from any change in their Social Security and Medicare.!  We should say, “Do you want to protect them from ‘The Deficit’ by taking away their schooling, health care and old age benefits?  Let’s look for a better solution.”

Here’s the short course to better messaging:

  1. Never accuse a political party; accuse an economic aristocracy.  “How are their values* possibly the same as yours?  Does the boss of your company worry about you not getting a 15% raise more than he does about adding 15% to the company’s profits each year?”

      (*John Fernandes cautioned us to first and always stress our common values with the voter)

2. Remember, ‘Security’ is valued for its granting of freedom – freedom to act freely without fear.

 3.  Someone with more resources can usually control me – control your freedom.

4.   Don’t focus on the means and lose sight of your preferred ends.  That’s what

      Washington always does.  You don’t have to do it too.

5.  Armed with healthcare, unemployment benefits and social security, you’re

     free to leave an oppressive situation, free to choose your own path, risky as it

     might be, to seek more reward.  Be free to talk back, even walk out.

Insist that government be the guarantor of your individual freedom.  The Constitution says it is our government’s job to protect your freedom and well being.  Why would you insist that it be made small enough to insure it cannot do this?

You want to pay some for-profit companies to do all this?  You really believe it would be cheaper?  Have you ever worked for somebody you’ve hardly ever seen?  You have a better chance of seeing your government representative. 

But like that captain if industry, don’t expect your representative to listen to you alone.  Band with your neighbors first.  You have a better chance of doing that with us than you have of getting your fellow employees to march on the boss to make him give up his corporate duty to keep making more sales and profits.  Capitalism requires an effective balance to its power.  Government should be that balance.  It is not right now.  It has not been for quite awhile. 

Start pushing the Wagon of State upwards.  Right now too many are taking the easy job of pushing it downhill.

Jay Gilchrist, GBVD

About JayG

I'm the elected Treasurer of GBVD and committed to the idea that if Democrats from all over the valley join together we can become a critical mass to elect and monitor Democratic Party candidates. I have retired from corporate life several years ago. This is my time to Give Back to this great nation in its time of need. I have chosen to do this as a Democratic activist. I am a member of the Milford Town Committee, a delegate to the state convention and am a representative to the town from Precinct 6 and serve the selectmen on one of their advisory commitees. My career background is in the life sciences.
This entry was posted in Political News - Blackstone Valley. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply