Daily Dose: New Dem Messaging makes for a good comedy bit - while making a serious point.

August 15, 2017

A comedian from Australia points out how bad the "new" Democratic message is; and while it's hilarious, it's also an insightful look at how badly the Party needs a new direction. Specifically, Dems need to communicate what they believe - their core values. In terms of messaging, Dem leadership (state and national) haven't listened to their constituents, they have ignored the science, so maybe they will pay attention to the unique way satire exposes truth.


Jim Jefferies recently did a great segment on his show titled "Democrats have a serious branding problem." The 6 minute clip is below, and worth the watch. Warning - there's some very colorful language, so don't watch it with the kids!



Jefferies' political observations are spot on, and brilliant. Here are the highlights from a messaging perspective:


1. His initial statement that the GOP dominates the news is more than a statement of fact - they are also dominant in terms of having their frame (worldview/moral system) repeated and strengthened on a daily basis. Dems/progressives have nothing to compare, or counter.


2. The joke about "A Better Deal" sounding like a bad commercial is more insightful than even Jeffries might realize. In terms of framing and metaphor, "A Better Deal" is strongly evocative of the conservative/authoritarian market frame (where people who are disciplined deserve success and a good deal, and those who don't get a good deal deserve to fail, because they are NOT disciplined) - which is why it has worked so well for Trump and the GOP. They must love that Democrats are repeating it over, and over, and over. 


3. The voice cracking in the clip with the tagline "My constituents deserve a good deal because they're working harder than ever" must have been subliminal - because that line is STRONGLY conservative. Here's how - people who "work hard" WILL get a good deal because they deserve to (working hard = discipline). The people who are working, but are still poor (i.e., not getting a good deal), deserve to fail, because they are doing something immoral or are not disciplined enough. In this conservative market frame, the government has no business interfering in the moral system of the market - it's the "decider". So good luck with that message, Democrats.


4. "It's about as memorable as..." Exactly. And the bit about how fast food places know how to sell a burger, followed by how a Democrat would sell a burger - genius. It's exactly the same between conservatives and progressives "selling" people on policy. Conservatives tell you WHY their policies matter to you ("personal liberty and getting immoral government out of your lives"). Progressives tell you that "while our policies will raise your taxes (i.e., "bad for you"), the other guy's (Republicans) are worse, so you should want our policies...here are the facts, so you can make an informed decision." Hardly inspiring or motivational.


5. "Even if you hate Trump, you have to admit his motto sticks." Exactly, and it physically changes your brain, how you perceive the world, how you act, even if you disagree with him. Just look at how often Democrats and progressives repeat his exact words, thus reinforcing his message. In the absence of a progressive moral system to counter, the vacuum will be filled with what is now dominant.


6. "At least pick an animal that better represents your party...a high horse." Isn't that the truth.


Of course, Jefferies' examples of better messaging are satire at their best - "grab those guns" is hardly a well framed message that will evoke empathy in people. However, he does make a very serious point that Democratic leadership ought to pay attention to. Democrats need to stand for something. Every issue that Democrats and progressives care about has its foundation in empathy - the moral imperative to care for other people as yourself. All of our values (freedom, opportunity, community, fairness, etc.) revolve around the idea of empathy. Even our understanding of government and democracy are focused on empathy.  At our very core, progressives believe in democracy and government that is the people, and acts with a moral responsibility for the freedom and prosperity of all people. We believe in our responsibility to to our community, and caring about our family, friends, and neighbors as we care for ourselves.


Why is that so hard for Democratic leadership to say and act on?

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