I talked to NPR for a few mins earlier about the progressive critiques of how we're running campaigns, and not sure I really got across (with any nuance) what I wanted to say, but here it is: wbur.org/hereandnow/202…
Maybe I should write something longer, but some expanded points that have less to do with progressive v moderates on policy than the fact that strategy for Dems is dictated heavily in federal races by moderates with an established paradigm about how to message:
Dem messaging tends to be very top down, and when messaging for a bluer district leans more progressive, there's backlash. You're seeing this now with complaints that Rs are weaponizing antipathy towards socialism and police reform.
But you don't see the reverse. If a candidate tacks right and loses because voters can't differentiate between R and D candidates or the D message wasn't compelling enough to mobilize a low engagement voter, you don't see complaints.
And part of this is because Rs can more easily weaponize progressive messages *because* they focus on things the R base has built its opposition around: shared responsibilities, inclusivity, spending on infrastructure and people.
But this does NOT mean it makes sense to build campaigns around what Rs can and can't wield in bad faith. This wrongly assumes that Rs have the ability to persuade Dems or would-be Dems in a way that... Dems don't themselves.
And look at how the wins happened this cycle. Voter reg surged with the BLM protests. Biden is not a progressive but he ran a more progressive campaign than any Dem candidate in recent history. Stacy Abrams' efforts in GA were not built around reacting to R talking points.
(Any Dem presidential nominee, that is!)
As a party, we are too reactionary. Too convinced that we expand by tacking right more than we do by cultivating the huge portion of the population that doesn't vote or is low engagement and would lean D organically.
And we only think in terms of this cycle, which we invariably think looks exactly like the last cycle. If we had longer term deep voter contact we could get in front of electoral shifts and be more responsive to voters, increase turnout over the long term.
Candidates cannot do this. They are talking to voters for the length of a cycle. We rely on them too much to convey too much over too short a time period.
Some of this is also about money in politics, btw. Candidates backload messaging and voter contact as close to the election as possible because fundraising isn't totally predictable and you don't want to start early and not be able to sustain the messaging financially.
This is another reason why it doesn't make sense to only cultivate voters in the context of specific electoral races--particularly if you think there are independents who are persuadable. Persuasion takes time and you can't just throw money at it at the last minute.
Note that these are not really problems that are ideological in nature. They're endemic to how campaigns are run structurally, and who has the power to determine that and allocate resources.
And btw, there's a line of argument from The People Who Run ThingsTM that this longer term deep work is already being done by activists, c4 orgs, etc. and it's not the job of the party. I just think that's wrong. (And hey, the people who run things don't listen to me anyway!)
I would prefer that we not pants it so much, that we do more capacity building, and if that means carving out money from short term imperatives at some risk, I think we have to do it.
(Also, I have a whole other thing about utterly burning digital channels long term with user/voter unfriendly tactics, but a lot of progressives are terrible about that, too. Politics problem, generally.)

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More from @espiers

11 Nov
IMO his base would have thought that anyway. They've bought into a narrative that anything Trump has done or might have done pales in comparison to the evil they can imagine (without evidence) Democrats doing.
This is a recurring conversation I have with Trumpist members of my family. Shitposting disinformation for example is fine because "Dems do worse". When I ask them for evidence they insist that it's something everyone just knows.
So I ask them who specifically these evil Democrats are and they spit out some Gateway Pundit caricature of Pelosi or Schumer or AOC. I am the only Democrat they know well. "Oh but not you" they say.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
We already empathize with Trump supporters on policy. We want them all to have healthcare, to make a living wage, to have a fair and equal justice system. We don't have to empathize with them because they voted against those things and lost.
Everyone I know who was upset about Trump winning was upset because we knew he'd hurt a lot of people. The Trump supporters I know who are upset are mostly upset because he can't hurt the right people anymore. It's not the same impulse.
So while there's no need to behave like they did, maybe give them some time to experience the normalcy of a Biden presidency and think about what they did when they voted for Trump. They don't get to sweep it under the rug yet.
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
I'm not sure the problem is that we don't understand it. It's that there are certain things that are not reconcilable. Bipartisan work involves tradeoffs and compromise not necessarily consensus.
Which is not to say that there *aren't* people who don't understand the motives of Trump voters, but that's certainly not the case for, say, those of us who have Trumpist families in red states. I also think people don't understand the difficulty of actual political persuasion
Or how, when it happens, it tends to happen slowly and incrementally.
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
I don't want to sound like a broken record on this, but if you think the left is overreaching on social issues but you insist that you're not racist, maybe don't use the word "woke" derisively. You can talk about overreach without doing that.
It's a word that comes out of the Black activist community and when you use it as a slur, you're telegraphing disrespect for people who are fighting for their civil rights. Maybe you only *mean* to insult overprivileged white hipsters. It doesn't matter. It's still disrespectful
And a lot of people I've seen do this are professional writers. You have the language at your disposal. Use it.
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
This is a sentiment centrists keep making with no empirical evidence to support it. And the thing is, progressives went all in on Biden once he was the candidate. They worked on the campaign, activists got their orgs to do GOTV, people showed up.
The idea that progressives (or the "woke" as racist conservatives who are Republicans like to call them) are limiting reach for Democrats is just wrong. Empirically and strategically. Not only are they not preventing Dems from winning, you cannot win without them.
Look at where our crucial victories are right now. Do you think Detroit is a bastion of crypto-conservatives? Atlanta? Full of Rs who's be Ds if we jettisoned LGBTQ rights? Reproductive rights? No. That's stupid.
Read 6 tweets
4 Sep
Two of my siblings, my dad, and three of my grandfathers served in the military. (I was adopted, so have more grandpas than most people.) My sister Bobbi just retired from service a couple of weeks ago.
All of them joined for different reasons, but all of them joined in part because they thought of it as public service, something that the president can't wrap his head around because the concept of sacrifice for others is completely alien to him.
(Also kind of thinking particularly of my grandfather Apolinar, the good looking guy on the left here, a decorated veteran and 1st gen Mexican-American who served in the 82nd Airborne. Stephen Miller would have probably tried to deport him.)
Read 5 tweets

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