Maybe They Should Watch Oprah
There has been a lively discussion going on in liberal circles about what is possible in the mid-term elections and in the Presidential race in ’08. As in all things, setting our sights low will yield little, but thinking big could bring us closer to what we want. If I decide to sell my beat up old car for $500, no one’s going to come offer me $1000.
While I see the value in focusing on what we can get first before moving on to what we want, I honestly don’t think that’s the right strategy. Things have gotten so bad for most people and giving them hope and a glimpse of a better way, not a marginally better way, but a much better way, is what we must do to get people on our side. We are a polarized electorate, but the numbers are swinging in our direction and apathetic working folks aren’t going to stampede to the polls if they are presented with the same tired old choice, bad and not quite so bad.
I also see a rampant assumption that working people don’t know what’s good for them. They know what’s good for them, they just don’t believe that either party can do anything about their situation because no one is speaking to their concerns. Perhaps Democrats seeking office should sit down and watch a weeks worth of Oprah to get a handle on what’s important to the American people. For one of the richest people in our country, she still has a firm grasp on the concerns of everyday Americans. We are in debt, working harder for our money than ever before, paying through the nose for healthcare (if we’re lucky enough to have it), fretting about retirement or our parents’ retirement because who can save when every bit of money coming in is out the door before it even reaches the bank?
Democrats have been playing to the wrong crowd for far too long. Pundits, corporations and their insulated social circle in DC are not going to swing an election. Working people, living paycheck to paycheck, bringing in just enough money to survive, one outsourced job away from losing the roof over their head is who the Democrats should be talking too. Oprah can tell them that 90% of Americans live this way, going into debt to sustain their lifestyles and getting ulcers from trying to keep it together. That is a staggering number of people who could be a captive audience for the right political message.
Yes, liberal perspectives tend to be nuanced, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be boiled down into sound bites. The American people are not as dumb as we think. And who says, each and every one of us that are capable of explaining the plan can’t shoulder some of the responsibility. How about a slogan that says, “Democrats have a plan! Ask me about it!” We are smart people, we can explain why the country would be better off if we kick the thieving Republicans out, and probably in 20 words or less. We just can’t do it if we have disdain for our fellow Americans and we can’t do it if we refuse to engage.
Does that mean we should stop and talk to the rabid Republican spewing talking points straight from Rush Limbaugh’s latest rant? Not unless you’re a masochist, then by all means go ahead. Those folks are, for the most part, gone and not worth the effort, but the guy behind you in line at the grocery store and the waitress at the coffee shop and the other parents at the soccer game are worth the effort. They don’t have far to go to be on our side, mostly it’s as simple as cutting through the crap, telling the truth and listening to what’s important to them. Like I’ve said before, we must change the “us” liberals and “them” conservatives into “us” the people and “them” the corporate owned politicians. Then together we can skip the evil and the lesser evil and find some real representation for a change.