This is what I was trying to get at with my earlier post about taking our message from where we’re strong already, not inventing a message based on poll-tested language and pasting it on to a party that doesn’t believe it:
Some of you are dismayed by the emergence of a huge voting bloc of churchgoers. Stop viewing this as a threat, and start viewing it as an opportunity. Socially conservative blue-collar workers don’t believe in the free market. They believe in the work ethic. Bush wins their votes by equating the free market with the work ethic. Show them where the free market betrays the work ethic, and they’ll vote for the party of the work ethic—you—against the party of the free market.
What’s your strongest issue among these voters? Outsourcing. Why? Because it’s the issue on which you talk most naturally about right and wrong. It’s also the issue on which you’re most comfortable appealing to nationalism. That’s another lesson you need to learn. People are voting Republican because they think you’re weak. And, let’s face it, you are weak. You say you’ll defend this country, but then you go on about consulting other governments, cultivating goodwill, and playing well with others. You make a world full of terrorists sound like kindergarten.
Democrats in the Roosevelt-Truman years didn’t have this problem. They called tyrants by their name, and they didn’t sound like they were faking it. A party that believes in right and wrong at home must be assertive about right and wrong abroad. You need a serious antiterrorist agenda. Otherwise, when you object to a war like Iraq, you sound like the peace party.
I’m not asking you to act like you care about this stuff. I’m asking you to care about it for real, and not just at election time. When a Republican president runs a TV ad accusing you of failing to protect us from wolves, you should be able to point out that he’s the one who emptied our shotgun into a fox, leaving us helpless against the wolves. And you should sound credible saying it.
Working people hear bullshit every day from our employers, things like “the company is too poor to pay for your health care” as the CEO drives off in a company limo and bills the firm for his wife’s birthday party. Talk about THAT, and you’ve got the union workers and industrial midwesterners who voted against you in this election and are still residually pissed about NAFTA.
Be blunt. Be honest. Be Democrats, the people who are the reason why your 7-year-old daughter isn’t working beside you in the mill right now. And be proud.