Let’s not Make 2020’s Mistakes in 2022

Do read Can Democrats avoid the pitfalls of 2020? A new analysis offers striking answers by Greg Sargent. You’ll remember that Democrats didn’t do as well in House races as they had expected to do last year. And now it wouldn’t take much for the Republicans to take back a House majority next year.

Greg Sargent discusses an analysis of campaign advertising that points out how much Democrats emphasized “working across the aisles” to “get things done” while Republicans emphasized “Democrats are demons who want to abolish police departments, turn America socialist, and eat your babies.” Guess which approach worked?

Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, the vice president of Way to Win, said that, in sum, Democrats in 2020 sent mixed messages: They touted their willingness to work with Republicans, even as Republicans called them socialists and extremists.

“By far their biggest spend,” Ancona told me, speaking of Republicans, was “on vilifying us as extreme in all kinds of ways.”

Meanwhile, Acona said, by constantly touting bipartisanship, Democrats were “effectively normalizing their attacks,” because Democratic messaging essentially said: “We want to work across the aisle with people who are painting us as extreme villains.”

That’s exactly what happened in Missouri. Republican campaign ads were all negative, all the time, and worked hard to hang unrest in Portland, Kenosha, etc. around the necks of Democratic opponents. Videos of flaming cars were frequently featured, as was the word “socialism.” The Dems tried to emphasize how good they were at working with Republicans. That’s exactly what happened. And it workd, for the Republicans.

This isn’t necessarily a new problem. I think Claire McCaskill lost to Josh Hawley in 2018 in part because she was too careful to not come across as “too liberal.” Her big issue was a promise to reduce prescription drug costs. Any issue more hot-button than that was avoided. I don’t recall that she ran any negative ads against Hawley. Meanwhile, Hawley’s ads against McCaskill accused her of all kinds of misuse of funds and personal corruption, and I don’t remember that she answered them.

Yes, Missouri is a red state, but the cities are blue. A big turnout in the cities can overcome the rural votes. But McCaskill cautious campaign didn’t inspire anyone in St. Louis or Kansas City to go out of the way to vote for her. A more full throated defense of urban issues, and a promise to stand up to Trump, might have kept her in the Senate.

Back to the anlysis of 2020:

This analysis also complicates an oft-heard argument about Republicans using leftist elements in the party — such as the “defund the police” movement — to tar mainstream Democrats. It’s sometimes said Democrats should more publicly denounce those [leftist] elements.

But the analysis suggests that at least part of the problem — in 2020, anyway — was that Democrats failed to rebut those attacks head-on or to effectively make the case that the GOP is genuinely captured by its extremist elements in a way the Democratic Party simply is not. That’s a very different failing than not doing enough to call out leftists.

Making the case that “the GOP is genuinely captured by its extremist elements in a way the Democratic Party simply is not” is a bit trickier than just calling the other side names, but I think that might be a smarter tactic than just running away from “the left” (as McCaskill did in 2018).

I hate negative ads, and I part of me hates to advocate negative ads, but we’re in an unusual situation here in that one party has ceased to  be a party and has become a danger to democracy itself. The Dems need to pull out all the stops and hand the right’s radicalism around GOP necks next year.

Successful GOP 2020 campaign ad.

21 thoughts on “Let’s not Make 2020’s Mistakes in 2022

  1. I reside in the Mississippi of the Midwest (aka Indiana).  It is my perception that the state Democratic Parties of Missouri and Indiana and a host of other red/pink states consistently select rePuke-Lites as their nominees and they consistently lose to the 'real' rePuknicans unless the rePuke is publicly insane.  I can't stomach the pretend rePukes like McCaskill.

    Too many red/pink and blue/lite blue states have Dem Parties that select nominees based how acceptable they are to the ownership classes and the working classes are second (or third) class citizens.  Nancy Pelosi has held the Speakership of the House on now her 3rd occasion;  she has stood up more against progressives than against rePukes; and she has lost substantial Dem House seats every time.  Unless the GQP nominates obvious wackjobs, I expect the Dems to become the House minority after the 2022 election cycle.

    When Democratic Leadership has to rely more on the GQP going totally off the rails than on meeting the needs of the working classes, it is an ongoing neoliberal suicide mission.

    • Anyone who uses the phrase "the working classes" is fighting, not even  the last war, but maybe the fifth- or sixth-last.  Humans as a species are losing the use of language before our very eyes; recycling jargon a hundred years old is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

      • I acknowledge getting old.  I hate the phrase 'middle class' because politicians never tell you what they understand the middle class to be when they say they are "for the middle class".  I understand that 'working classes' can strike others the same way.  What phrase do you recommend to describe those who are not in the ownership or management classes?

        • The key word is not "working" but "class[es]".  The only divide is between rural and urban.  To any outward appearances, that looks like educated vs. uneducated.  There is more to it than that, but it cuts across lines of what used to be called "class". 

          You seem to think that where we are today is a result of making employers unaccountable.  And, sure e-fccking-nough, employers have been made unaccountable.  But so have a lot of other groups, and the point is not who exactly; the point is the unaccountability, any amount of which is unacceptable.  The point above that is the fact that (near as makes no difference) nobody understands why unaccountability is unacceptable.

          And the point above that is that where we are today is where you end up if you destroy your educational system and then wait a human lifetime.  It has nothing to do with "class", because no "class" has been immune from the consequences of de-education, and no "class" is innocent of the intention to de-educate. Each may have its own reasons, but the result is the same.

  2. SadOldVet,

    I second what you wrote.

    And now, I'd like to add that I'm terrified at the obliviousness of some Democrats – and so should all of you be.

    Right now, democracy itself has the 'sword of damn RepubliKKKLANS' hanging over it's head.

    In regards to obliviousness, in particular, I have my eye on two Senators, Manchin and Sinema, who promised to never kill that racist relic, the feckin' filibuster.  And they promised bipartisanship legislation.

    Bipartisanship is as ephemeral as a quick fart (only the fart doesn't stink as much!).  Democrats have "bipartisaned" themselves into knots.

    But Joe Manchin's sure bipartisanship's coming!  He believes there will definitely be 10 good patriots who'll join the Democrats!  And they'll also come along on Biden's most important initiatives.

    Hey, as a matter of fact, I heard Schumer said he might put the bipartisan commission to take a very close look at the sedition in January 6th to a vote today.

    As of 10 this evening – and despite the desperate plea's to GQP Senators by the mother of the deceased Capitol officer who died (the next day) to join D's and pass the bill – no RepubliKKKLANS have voted for the January 6th Commission.

    What kind of spineless sycophant wouldn't vote for that commission?

    Funny you ask!  ALL of them.  ALL of the RepubliKKKLAN Senators have not said which way they're going to vote.  "Moscow" Mitch pleaded with ALL of his RepubliKKKLANS to not vote for the commission as "As a personal favor to me."

    Manchin's doing the political equivalent of "Waiting for Godot."

    If the ReichpubliKKKLANS don't vote for this commission, do you, Joe, believe there'll be 10 who'll vote ON A FUCKING VOTING BILL?!?  Arguably THE most important priority in the near comatose democracy!

    How's about that 2+ Trillion infrastructure deal?

    If you think they will, Joe, I want some o' that shit! I want what you're on!!!  THAT has got to some awesome shit!!!!!

    Whadda ya do? Do you drink it?  Shoot it?  Smoke it?  Snort it?  Inject it?  WHAT?!?!?

    Hey Joe, I'm terrified!  You seem calm through all this.

    Just give me a taste, Joe.  Just a taste, bro…

    • Dear Joe Manchin, a few days ago, you said "There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission…" and yet they did.  If the Jan 6th bipartisan commission is the low hanging fruit of Senate bipartisanship, e.g. this should be the one thing all of the GOP Senate, and if not all then at least ten "patriots" on the republican side can agree on, and yet not one Senate republican voted for it, then what do you really expect to achieve in standing against getting rid of the filibuster?

      Bipartisanship with the GOP is a pipe dream, a delusion even.  The ONLY thing Manchin and Sinema are achieving by being as staunch against getting rid of the filibuster as George Wallace was standing in the schoolhouse door against desegregation ("filibuster today, filibuster tomorrow, filibuster forever!!) is ensuring GOP obstruction continues.  Insisting on keeping the filibuster, even as the GOP just showed you what they think of bipartisanship on the Jan 6th commission, and are about to on the Infrastructure bill, is foolish at best, at worse, its collaboration with the enemy.

      • Correction, six senate republicans voted to move the 1/6 commission out of committee.  Still not the bipartisan comity Manchin promised we'd see, if we just let them have the filibuster.

    • rePuknicans are capable of working with Dems on 'bipartisan legislation'.  All the Dems have to do is propose legislation that will cut taxes for the 1%ers or increase militarization spending.

  3. I just heard that most of the treasonous RepubliKKKLAN Senators refused to even meet face-to-face with Mrs. Sicknick, the mother of deceased Capitol officer.

    Gutless, treasonous, Fascist, weasels, the entire lot of them!

    New book: "Profiles In NO Courage."

    • And get this: one reason the George Floyd policing act is being held up is because the police unions are against getting rid of "qualified immunity," that's called for in the bill.

      So "blue lives" don't have to matter when they're unwillingly sacrificed in the cause of maintaining white nationalism/supremacy and fascism.

  4. If you want to know what it is that gives me monstrous political nightmares, go to vox.com and read Sean Illin's interview with political scientist David Feris:  "Are Democrats sleepwalking towards democrat collapse?"

    Sweet dreams.

  5. Oy.

    I somehow left the "ic" out in "democratic."

    So it's "Are Democrats sleepwalking towards democratic collapse."


  6. Bedlam may prevail.  Crowdsourced Crazy remains the core of the GQP.  I assume the Q substitution was intended by SadOldVet.  

    A few years ago I was visiting a Blue State to catch some of the finer things in life,  A rising blues band was performing at a town square type event.  I stopped at a booth run  by Democrats, hoping to find a catchy bit of political merchandise.  I found nothing that had much appeal at all.  All I took away was an education as to the dismal state of the party's messaging.  

    Republicans know haw to use the negative.  Q conspiracy theories which falsely paint Democrats in a negative valance abound.  Polls show these theories are more accepted as valid by those who identify as Republicans rather than Democrat or Independent.  They can create a den of evil in the basement of a Pizza joint even when it has no basement.   Crazy does not  care about facts.  Big foot and Nessie survive without factual support. Crazy does not care.  GameStop stock has negative earnings, no dividend and an outrageous valuation.  Crazy does not care (yet).  The lure of an Alice in Wonderland world is strong.  It has raw power.  A crazy belief is easy to acquire and almost impossible to debunk.  When your goal is the Pernicious Procurement of Political Power, exploiting your supporters and collaboration with unsavory governments is acceptable behavior.  Crazy thinks the end justifies the means.

    Crazy gave us January 6th.  It was Bedlam or Crowdsourced Crazy if you like. The facts support use of such terms.  It was madness gone lethal based on a  big lie.  How can you justify an event which erected a pubic gallows?

    The GOP has a Q problem.  They embraced crazy and find it an addiction they cannot shake.  Right now they are in denial  and hiding the evidence.  Typical junkie behavior,  They should just say no to Q. This is your brain on Q. (Insert Greene campaign poser here)


  7. It's a great point- being "bipartisan" with members of a cult that wants to destroy democracy doesn't make any sense, but it is as much the result of the situation where one party is ideologically consistent and authoritarian, while the other party is essentially everyone else so much more diverse and much less focused on any particular issue. 

    My concern is that the Democrats are ignoring the reason why you have such a substantial portion of the population in a constant state of hate and fear, which I believe is primarily the right wing noise machine- or even more specifically faux news, whose whole business model is promoting hate and fear.  The major threat to democracy isn't necessarily the Republican party (although it certainly is one), it is that the propaganda these state-media wannabes spew has become extraordinarily effective and destructive to our country.

    • The Pretty Hate Machine (h/t Driftglass, and apologies to Nine Inch Nails) is no longer the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.

      The GQP (formerly the Republican Party) is now the political arm of the Pretty Hate Machine.

      This idea is not original, but I forget where I read it first.

  8. On satellite radio recently, progress channel, a host was calling for all progressives to refer to Jan. 6 as domestic terrorism by right-wing extremists. It was promoted by Republicans, and it is being swept under the rug by Republicans. This is completely in line with the current Maha post, and a lot more of it needs to happen: constant drumbeat. Terrorists are trying to take over the country.  Period.

  9. … we’re in an unusual situation here in that one party has ceased to  be a party and has become a danger to democracy itself. The Dems need to pull out all the stops and hand the right’s radicalism around GOP necks next year.

    I mean, they've tried literally everything else.

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