Now that House Republicans have finally taken majority control, they’re already busy bragging about all the evil things they’re going to do on behalf of their deranged far right anti-government constituents. As a political activist, one of your keys to fighting back will be getting the messaging right.
If you’re yelling something like “Republican bastards are going to cut social security and Medicare, we’re doomed!” then you’re unwittingly part of the problem. What you should be saying instead: “Republican bastards are trying to cut social security and Medicare, but Democrats are going to stop them!”
The Democratic Party itself fully understands the difference between these two kinds of messaging. Unfortunately, most of the highest profile activists and pundits on our side have found they can get more attention for themselves by pushing the “we’re doomed” messaging so they can bash the Democrats and portray themselves as smarter and fiercer than the Democrats.
As a result, many of you only ever hear two things from the loudest voices on your own side: 1) “we’re doomed,” and 2) “the Democrats are bad at messaging,” so you end up believing and repeating these two lies. And you never even hear the Democrats’ very good messaging, because it gets drowned out by the doomsday pundits.
Some of you were shocked to learn on Friday night that Hakeem Jeffries is really good at this. In reality he’s always been really good at this, for years. But how many of you even followed him on Twitter before this week? How many of you heard him speak before this week? If the excellent nature of Hakeem Jeffries is new to you, then you’ve been following the wrong people.
Anyway, the Democratic Party understands that “we’re doomed” is terrible messaging. It’s a sentiment that tells the public that the battle is lost, that there’s no reason to get involved or care, and no reason to vote in the next election. That’s why the Democrats never talk about us being doomed.
So as we enter this battle where House Republicans set things on fire to try to force House Democrats to agree to Medicare and social security cuts – which obviously will not happen – let’s resist the urge to declare defeat right out of the gate.
House Republicans know that the Democrats aren’t going to agree to cuts. So when it comes to their threat to default on the debt, are they just bluffing? Maybe. We should be calling that bluff: “Go ahead and shut it down, you psychotic Republican assholes, and kill your 2024 prospects!”
By yelling that House Republicans are definitely going to default on the debt, you’re handing them leverage. You’re unwittingly making it so they don’t even have to go through with it, because of all the mileage you’re helping them get out of the mere threat. So stop helping them!
Again, the Democrats get this. They’ll refuse to cut SS and Medicare, and they’ll call out Republicans for even proposing such cuts, and they’ll tell Republicans that they’re welcome to default on the debt if they really want to. It’s winning leverage and winning messaging.
And the entire time Democrats are playing this winning hand, doomsday pundits on our side (and the defeatist outrage addicts who worship them) will be yelling harmful nonsense like “we’re doomed, SS and Medicare are gone, Democrats are cowards if they cave, all hope is lost!”
As real activists who actually want to help the Democrats win these kinds of battles for the betterment of the American people, part of our job is to be vigilant in pushing back against the doomsday hysteria coming from the defeatists on our own side. They’re always going to insist we’re doomed, both as an excuse to feel outrage, and as a lazy excuse to not have to bother trying to fight and win. Now more than ever, we have to shout down and work around these types in order to help the Democrats fight and win the battles that need to be fought and won. So let’s say focused and go win this battle!
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report