Messaging Matters! We Can Do Better

As an executive coach and career counselor I spend a lot of time helping clients craft their messages.  They need to have the right message, and they also need the right delivery when they are conveying their messages.  The same is true for the Dems: loud and proud, not speaking from a crouch.  Everyone on the same page.

As a connoisseur of messaging, I have been interested in the way the Republicans message in contrast to the way Dems do.  It’s true that they are speaking to different bases.  But the Dems could learn some things from the Republicans and especially from Trump.  We may not like him as a person and we might think he is an idiot in some important ways, but he is a gifted conveyor of his message and his delivery is effective with his base.

What is the difference between Trump and the Dems when it comes to messaging?

  1. Trump is certain he is right.
  2. Trump’s messages are short, strong and they appeal to mean humor which his authoritarian base likes (and which would not work with the Dem base).
  3. Trump’s messages are definitive conclusions, not speculations.

The Dems tend to be more careful and speculative.  They get into the weeds.  That works if you are appealing to a more educated base, but Dems could do more to cut through with those key Independent voters in the swing states who will decide the election just as they did in 2016. Portions of the electorate are uninformed, hardly listen, and do not care about or understand what is going on in Washington. Clarity and certainty matter with that group. When I take an Uber or Lyft I talk with the drivers about politics. I talk about politics with many workmen, Millennials, and shopkeepers too when I can.  Many of them are in this group of people who really do not know what is going on with Trump, the GOP, and the Dems.  And they don’t care.  They are just busy living their lives.

The electorate is also deeply cynical.  Many people believe that all politicians are bad, corrupt, and out for themselves.  That viewpoint is hard to shake.  When it comes to speaking to these folks, the so-called Independents who have not made up their minds, Trump’s way of messaging would be as effective as it is with his base: clear, pithy, certain, conclusive.  Dems need to boldly restate and underscore what many Americans have kind of figured out by now.

  1. Most Americans know by now that Trump lies. He is clocking in at over 10,000 lies and counting.
  2. Many Americans suspect that Trump is hiding how unsuccessful he was in business.
  3. Most know he played footsie with the Russians.
  4. Most know he is all about enriching himself and his family.
  5. Most know he tweets a lot and that makes us look bad and hurts our country’s image.
  6. Most know he is thin-skinned, unpredictable and prone to anger.
  7. Most know this is a corrupt administration.
  8. Most know he is a racist, a xenophobe and a mysogynist, and he won by being racist, xenophobic and a mysogynist with about 35% of the electorate.

Americans kind of know these things, but it is up to the Dems to articulate these messages in clearer terms to help frame the narrative for 2020 and motivate voters to get out the vote for the Dems.  Trump’s image needs to be attacked and his shortcomings exposed over and over.  The messages need to be repeated.

Here are some suggestions.

  • I READ the Mueller Report. 1000 prosecutors did too.  #Trumpsacriminal!
  • Trump is lying to you every day- 10,000 lies and counting.  No one believes a guy who cries wolf.
  • Trump’s trade war damages all of U.S.
  • Trump went bankrupt 6 times.  Now he’s busy wrecking our economy.
  • What is Trump doing about climate change? Nothing. He says it doesn’t matter to him because he will be dead by the time it’s too late.
  • The Trump administration is corrupt- the fish rots from the head.
  • Stop separating children from their parents at the border! Vote Trump OUT!
  • Trump puts kids in cages. Make it stop.  Vote Trump OUT!
  • The free press is not the enemy of the people.  Trump is the enemy of the free press.
  • What’s Trump hiding?  Why is he so afraid of the truth?  #Trumpsacriminal
  • Trump won by dividing our country.  We need a president who brings us together.
  • He did not drain the swamp, but we can. Dump Trump.

I am not saying there should only be negative messages, but fear and worry are huge motivators for getting out the vote and for getting people to activate.  Positive messages are harder to push out because of the rampant cynicism in our country. But cynicism can be used as part of the messaging:

  1. How’s that beautiful health care going for you? Vote Dem.
  2. Hate crimes are way up in our country. Guess why.
  3. White supremacists love Trump.  Guess why.
  4. Want a raise? Vote Dem.
  5. How are those low-cost prescription drugs going for you? Vote Dem.
  6. How’s that tax cut for the rich working for you? Vote Dem.
  7. Remember infrastructure week? No? Vote Dem.
  8. Tired of so much winning yet?
  9. You have to pay your taxes, why doesn’t Trump?
  10. You have to obey the law, why doesn’t Trump?
  11. If Trump were the CEO of a company, he would have been fired by now. Fire Trump in 2020. Vote Dem.
  12. What kind of role model do you want for your kids? #Trumpsacriminal
  13. We can do better.  Dump Trump in 2020.

Some House Democrats are worried that the House Judiciary committee issued so many subpoenas.  Eighty-one of them.  The concern is that the Rs will be able to say the Dems are continuing an unfair witch hunt.  I say, turn that argument around on them.  The reason the House had to issue 81 subpoenas is that Trump is breaking the law over and over again.  Everyone is afraid to make him obey the law and follow the rules like everyone else has to in life.

  1. There is only one reason the House had to issue 81 subpoenas: Trump’s a one man crime wave. It’s HIS fault there are so many subpoenas.  It’s because he breaks the law all the time.
  2. The job of the House is oversight.  It says so in the Constitution.  We are doing our job.
  3. No one made Trump break the law.  It’s his fault he doesn’t follow the law.

Everyone is sure that Washington is broken even though a closer look exposes Mitch McConnell as the real reason Congress does not work.  McConnell calls himself the grim reaper for a reason.  Everything the House has passed for the good of the American people, bill after bill sent to the Senate, McConnell is killing in the Senate.  We need some pointed messaging about McConnell as well and a groundswell to get him out of office, ideally, by turning the Senate blue.  In short, we need a tsunami turn out.  And that should also be one of the clear messages.

  • Mitch McConnell broke Congress. #getridofMitch
  • If you want DC to work for you, vote for Dems up and down the ballot.
  • The Republicans had their chance. They blew it.
  • Clean up the corruption.  Vote the GOP OUT!  #GOPisbroken #cleanupthecorruption
  • Disappointed? You have a choice. #voteouttheGOP!
  • We need to move forward not backward. Vote for Progress. Vote Dem.
  • Not just capitalism, moral capitalism.
  • We don’t need a new wall at the border we need a new president in the White House.
  • We don’t need a new wall at the border we need Dems in charge in both houses.
  • Mitch McConnell for dog catcher.  #getridofMitch

These are just a few ideas.  I bet you could come up with more.  If you do, let me know: sheila@markinreport.com.