I’m about to say something controversial: the Democratic Party generally does a very strong job on messaging. Yes, it’s true. The Democrats are really, really good at the whole messaging thing. It may not have been true in decades past, but it’s absolutely been true over the past several years.
Yet every time you tune in for any sort of political commentary from just about anyone in the media or pundit class, you hear the same thing repeated over and over: “The Democratic Party has a messaging problem.” You hear this narrative so often, it starts to sound true. You end up accepting it as a given, without questioning it: the Democrats have a messaging problem: Well, there’s a problem here alright, but it’s not coming from the Democrats. There are actually two problems:
1) The entire media and pundit class routinely ignores the Democrats’ messaging, and often makes an effort to drown out the Democrats’ messaging, so the media can chase ratings by claiming the Democrats have no messaging. Your “friends” at places like MSNBC are every bit as guilty of pushing this lie as anyone on the right wing side.
2) Too few of you are making an effort to amplify the Democrats’ messaging. I don’t mean that in an insulting or accusatory way. In many of your cases it’s not your fault at all. You don’t even realize that it’s your job as a political activist/enthusiast to amplify the Democrats’ messaging whenever you agree with it. The media has misled you to believe that it’s your job to sit back and gripe about the Democrats’ supposed lack of messaging, even as they shout down the Democrats’ messaging to try to make sure you never hear it.
Right now you may be wondering whether I’m on track with this kind of thing. After all, you’re certainly not hearing almost anyone else in the media and pundit class talking like this. But when I tweeted a briefer version of the above bullet points yesterday, it was retweeted by no less than former Biden White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. So yes, the Democratic Party is very much wishing you would listen to what I’m telling you in this article. Winning and losing elections comes down to what I’m trying to get across here.
To that end, if you want your side to win anything, Step One is to stop griping about your own side’s leaders. It accomplishes nothing, and actually hurts your side’s prospects. It means you’re forfeiting your opportunity to help your side’s leaders get their messaging out there, and you’re instead putting the message out there that your side’s leaders suck. All this does is tell persuadable voters in the middle that your side isn’t worth voting for. Yes, you are actively costing your own side votes when you sit there on social media all day and grumble about how the Democratic Party supposedly has a messaging problem.
When it comes to winning, Step Two is to start actively seeking out the messaging coming from your side’s leaders. Remember, nearly everyone in the media and pundit class is doing everything they can to prevent you from ever coming into contact with the Democratic Party’s messaging. And again, your “friends” like the folks at MSNBC are more guilty of this than anyone. They want you to spend all day listening to them, not listening to Democratic leaders.
Your job is to cut out the dishonest middlemen, and go straight to the source. Whichever social media platform you spend most of your time on, you should be following every Democratic Party leader – including the Biden White House, the House and Senate leaders, the DNC Chair, the DCCC, the DSCC, you name it. You should have alerts set for all of these people and accounts. And each time any of these Democratic Party leaders posts something that you agree with, you should share it, so that the Democrats’ messaging can get past the media’s roadblock and actually reach the public.
I really mean all of the above. In fact, what I’m saying in this article is probably the most important thing I’ve ever said to you. There’s nothing more tragic than looking through my feed and seeing useless comments like “It’s time for the Democrats to…” and “Why don’t the Democrats…” and “The Democrats have a messaging problem.” That’s all just pointless griping for the sake of griping. And all it does is make our side look bad in the eyes of potential voters.
It doesn’t mean the Democrats are above critique. It’s just that 99% of the “critiquing” you hear about the Democrats is disingenuous nonsense aimed at emotionally manipulating viewers and driving ratings. Numerous pundits (on TV and social media) have built their brand around trying to portray themselves as being smarter and savvier than the Democratic Party leadership, so you’ll listen to them instead of the Democratic Party. This is only ever about getting attention and boosting their own careers as pundits, and never about any actual attempt at honest critique. These folks are con artists with no insight to offer, and I would urge you not to get sucked in by them, or else pretty soon they’ll have you out there dishonestly bashing the Democratic leadership as well, under the guise that attacking your own side’s leaders makes you “smart” and “vigilant.” It’s a very dangerous game.
Because of the way the entire media and pundit industry (on both sides) is dishonestly stacked against the Democratic Party for their own career reasons, we end up having to be the driving force in assisting the Democratic Party in getting its message out to the public. And by “we” I don’t mean me. I mean me and all of you. I have one voice. You collectively have thousands and thousands of voices, online and in the real world. I urge you to use your voice, big or small, to help the Democrats get their messaging out there. It’s the only way we win.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report