, 20 tweets, 8 min read
My Authors
Read all threads
1. Once again, @TheDemocrats are blowing it on what wins presidential elections. Reality is, "the issues" have proven, time and again, to be far less important in polls than impressionistic themes. And the only one who has anything close to a functional theme is Bernie....
@TheDemocrats 2...Warren's "theme" does not count, and in fact it is the worst of the bunch. "I have a plan for that" is pretty much it, which is a shorthand for issues, and offers no grand thought on the direction of America.

Let's go back in history and review winners....
@TheDemocrats 3...Carter won with a simple theme: I won't lie to you. Jumping off of Watergate and Vietnam, this was, while not a grand vision, something America was eager to hear. But his theme in 1980 was a weak mish-mash. Reagan's theme? "Let's Make America Great Again." (Yes, seriously...
@TheDemocrats 4...Trump actually ripped off his theme.) But the killer theme came from a single line in one of his debates: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" In the midst of stagflation, the answer for many was no. And a belief that government was part of the problem was...
@TheDemocrats 5...spreading. And a landslide.

1984: The best theme ever. "It's Morning in America." That's it. "Things are great" was basically the point. Mondale had a billion themes on a billion issues, some contradictory. (I know how bad that was, because I was one of his speechwriters....
@TheDemocrats 6...and had enormous trouble reconciling the contradictions.)

1988: Dukakis had no theme, and Bush barely had one. His was basically "whoo-hoo, let's keep going!" blended with som pretty ugly racism pushed by Lee Atwater. But the absence of a Dukakis theme was horrific....
@TheDemocrats 7...that is why there was this aching desire for Mario Cuomo, who was all inspirational theme. But nope.

1992: Bush once again had no theme. Clinton did: New covenant, New Democrat. Lots of people today sneer at that, but at the time it was needed. "Liberal" was a term...
@TheDemocrats 8...that had been transformed by the Republicans into the moral equivalent of "rapist." People ran away from the label (except for Cuomo, who refused to run.) But Clinton's theme, versus Bush's non-theme, was enough.

1996: Both had weak themes, Dole's was weakest. Clinton's...
@TheDemocrats 9...theme was basically "Dole is Gingrich." Nothing really uplifting, but it was something.

2000: Gore had no theme of consequence. He almost ran as "I'm not Clinton" to counter what was called "Clinton fatigue." He should have won and would have if he had won his own state...
@TheDemocrats 10...largely because Bush's theme was based off of personality: Conservative with a conscience, like to have a beer with that guy. Nothing particularly inspirational.

2008: Hope. A MEGA-theme. At a time when so much seems to have gone wrong in this country, "hope" was perfect..
@TheDemocrats 11...and really inspirational. Where did Obama stand on the issues? Most voters didn't really care or know. They just were inspired by the man.

2016: MAGA. Another broad theme, inspirational to a lot of people. Spoke to a future, returning to (imagined) glories of the past...
@TheDemocrats 12...now, Trump has already shown embers of what his theme will be "Keep America Great." Or something like that. But it is a "let's keep going" that will work for lots of people.

And the democrats? Bernie's theme is sweeping, summed up almost as "revolution." Sure, he has....
@TheDemocrats 13...lots of issues under that, but the bottom line theme is upending the system.

Biden, Harris, Buttigieg? Nothing inspirational that I can figure out.

Warren? "I have a plan for that." Probably the worst theme ever. Opens itself up to being twisted easily by opponents...
@TheDemocrats 14...and it is zero on the line of inspirational.

Yang has something of a theme - "A New Way Forward." But once again, that is issues based. What is that way? It raises questions about the issues, not about the direction of America

Dems lose because they often don't inspire....
@TheDemocrats 15...this is why they have the issues that people support, but lose. You CANT just inspire the base, which depends on issues. You have to inspire across the board, which means a vision for the future - one summed up in a few words. That's why Hope was great.

This is why the....
@TheDemocrats 16...debate about "public option versus medicare for all" is a dead ass loser. WTF cares? What matters is what WORKS, not what details are. Very very few people could tell you the difference between PO and MfA. "Health insurance must be a right for everyone" is enough...
@TheDemocrats 17...many of the political types in twitter - the ones who laugh at the folks who voted for Bush with the "have a beer with" mindset" - do not understood what every high-level person at the Mondale campaign (other than Jim Johnson) knew: If you have to explain, you lose....
@TheDemocrats 18...Americans vote for leadership. They don't analyze, they don't dig down. "Medicare for all will cost you tons in taxes" will get through easily. "No, it won't, and here's why..." is the quagmire that will not be heard by anyone but reporters and the politically obsessive...
@TheDemocrats 19...at this point, the thematic weakness is bad. If we don't recognize what wins - if we don't stop nit-picking over details of policy, rather than policy goals -then none of those policies will matter because we will instead have four more years of insane tweeting and wreckage.
@TheDemocrats ...folks are misinterpreting this to say I think Bernie will win the election. I do not. I am saying he has a theme. But it is one that appeals to those who want to upend the system. If that has a majority support, fine. But it is hard push.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Kurt Eichenwald

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!