What’s the Message

20 May 2020

by Mike Rawlins, County Chair

The question that new Democratic activists almost always ask is “What’s our message?”

It isn’t “not Trump” or “not Republican”. We always tell candidates to talk about what they’re for before they talk about their opponents, if they talk about them at all. And with the media covering Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic 24/7, and the Republican’s fawning defense of him, we really don’t need to say anything about it.

What voters want to hear is why they should vote for Democrats – what we’re going to do better. We promise:

  • Competent government
  • A sound economy that works for everyone
  • Social and economic justice
  • Health care for all
  • Restoring the environment
  • And so much more

Too many of us are looking for the magic catchphrase or that perfect soundbite that sums up everything we’re about in one sentence. They don’t exist, because every voter is different and how we talk about all of this needs to be aimed directly at the individual voter.  And “we” is important! It’s not up to just the party or even individual candidates to tell the story. We all have to, in our own words, and to our friends, neighbors, and families.

Find the message that works for you with whoever you’re talking with, and tell that story. Let’s win!

Comments 4

  1. OMG….. this format is SOOOOOOO much better !
    The Memorial Day event at the top to send a positive vibe, Mike’s comments about message SHORT, DIRECT, TO THE POINT, EASILY READABLE and neurologically digestable.
    Everyone’s brain is on overload, right now. The shorter, simpler, more direct wording we all use can be understood quicker.
    Thank you.

  2. These bullet points are great and really helpful for listening to find the ‘sweet spot’ for each person we’re speaking with. However, one or two sentences that describe the ‘how’ for each of the points would flesh them out a bit and be even better. E.g., for the person who asks what we mean by competent government, perhaps we would say we need “Fully staffed positions filled by qualified and experienced individuals. Or, systems that are efficient and using best practices to be effective….” .
    Thanks for addressing the questions for us newbies.

  3. I understand the importance of stating what we stand for but this extraordinary time is analogous to Hoover & the Great Depression. Hoover failed in every way possible & FDR fortunately had the ability to lead the nation to greatness.
    We are in a war with a hostile invader that is killing indiscriminately. Instead of leading the nation & the world to health & recovery, Trump has not only failed to lead, his Administration’s recklessness has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of our fellow Americans who would be alive & well today if we had followed the recommendation of the leaders of the public health community.
    As a retired physician who has been dedicated to relieving suffering, improving the quality of life & saving lives, I grieve for the lives lost, most of whom should be alive & well. I strongly believe it is imperative that our fellow citizens understand that not only is President Trump the worst leader we have had or ever will have but tens of thousands of Americans are no longer with us because of his failures.

  4. This could not have been better said if a host of Shakespear clones worked on it for a century. However, refining how well we make presentations is also of great help. a refinement made from memories of our painful failures to connect as well as remembrances of our successes. And for this nothing helps like actually talking to voters, voters to whom we have given a welcoming ear. Add to that, one might consider screening out those who have faces that have fearful or hateful sets to them, as this gives a better experience and greater chances of success. Arguments don’t usually change minds, but finding needs and presenting suggestions to fulfill them, just might be persuasive.

    A catchy phrase, however, can have amazing impacts, as in President Johnson’s reply to the campaign slogan of Barry Goldwater which said “In your heart, you know he’s right.” Johnson retorted “In your guts you know he’s nuts.” Barry suffered a humiliating defeat. And consider the tank commercial of Dukakis, so long ago. He was riding high as we called for him on the phone, then with this one ad his rank in the polls fell and he lost the race. We all knew as volunteers that Dukakis had sunk his own boat (so to speak).

    And not trying to strain anyone’s “neurology” here, but one word that is out of place can lessen the impact of anything we say. I have written things which included disastrous typos that turned what I wanted to say completely “on its ear”, and some which created a meaning which was just the opposite to what I was trying to present. This occurred in one book I wrote, and it passed by inspection and into final print. How I groaned inside as I read it. So, no good writer would push aside the help of a great editor. 😉 Which obviously, I didn’t have. 😉

    Due to the stresses of talking to voters, we might just consider times to commiserate and share?

    Any who, great post Mike. I would have posted a comment that was shorter, but as you know, that takes time and effort. I’m a lazy bum writer, what can I say? But Democrats have such forgiving hearts, right? Right?

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