After discussing at some length the Manchin problem, I said yesterday that I had reservations about the McCauliffe campaign. Today will of course be a day of recrimination and blame. It's a waste of energy and a fruitless exercise. Having said that, it is vitally important to look at what went wrong in Virginia. Terry Mccauliffe persistently attacked Washington Dems for the infighting and chaos and I accept to a degree he had a point. It certainly didn't help, but my suggestion would be for Terry to take a long hard look at his own campaign. Frankly it was amateur hour. Looking at it from the outside and he just didn't appeal to me as a person. (I have no idea why I felt this way) The second and I think more important failure, was his lazy approach of trying to paint Youngkin as a Trump mini me. whoever told him to go down this route in such an aggressive way, needs to be taken out back and hit with a bat. I found it truly cringeworthy and absolutely politically non productive.
Whilst I disagree with everything Youngkin stands for and will now do to Virginia, he fought a very smart campaign by keeping Trump at arms length, whilst quietly courting his base. It was a good political strategy that mitigated the Trump toxicity problem. The real body blow for McCauliffe though, came from his debate debacle about parents should not be involved in their kids education. Whilst that was not what he was saying, his choice of words allowed the Youngkin campaign to turn it into a message which said parents views don't matter when it comes to their children's education. He lost the campaign right there in that moment. It was a political schoolboy error that was fatal. He literally fell into a cultural war trap set by the GOP who convinced voters that critical race theory was on the table, when it wasn't anywhere near kids in Virginia. I still hold my head in my hands when I think of it. Republicans are nothing if not creative in the area of trigger issues. It didn't even exist as an issue, but they sold it anyway and the voters bought it. McCauliffe like some unsuspecting passer by, then walked right into the trap. My God, it boils my blood just to think of it.
As with all losses like this, the blame game will ensue. Terry will blame the administration for burying him and whilst it was certainly a contributory factor, it was NOT why he lost. He has to look at himself for that. This is a prime example of a flawed campaign that could not be revived, even by throwing the full weight of the Democratic leadership behind it. It was naivety beyond measure to believe that Trump toxicity was the golden ticket. I would go so far as to describe it as political arrogance. Yes I'm sorry that Terry McCauliffe lost in Virginia, but I am much more sorry for the people of Virginia who will as a result of campaigning schoolboy errors, see changes that may well deliver a body blow to women's rights, voter rights, public health messaging and a whole lot more.
So what's the takeaway for Democrats? In short, they should be VERY VERY WORRIED. Their ability to tune into public sentiment was not just off, it was way off. They have simply failed to adapt to the new political landscape that the right is doing such a good job to create. The Dems in Washington have allowed Republicans to simply sit back as they embark on a very public war of ideas. I also think that the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan added to a mounting number of perceived failures that have brought competence into play. If you want evidence that Virginia was not an outlier, swing across to Phil Murphy in New Jersey. Phil is an excellent candidate who has from a representation perspective, hardly put a foot wrong during his tenure. Yet he looks likely to win by a thread. So Dems have to face up to the hard fact that perceived failures are politically very damaging.
I said yesterday that Manchin was a shrewd political operator and make no mistake, he's is tapping into public sentiment. The public, because of the incompetence of Dem lawmakers, are now viewing Democrats as unable to lead the country effectively. Not true, but perception is all in politics. There are now big questions around the cost of Build Back Better that are misguided, but because of poor messaging, it is feeding into the GOP expensive incompetence narrative. It's a disaster waiting to happen and wait until they aggressively start selling the 'giveaway' messaging.
As an outside observer, I think Dems have a big problem on Twitter too. Whilst the platform could be a real asset to the campaign for 2022. Any criticism of Biden is met with illogical push back or silence. On the occasions when I have raised issues or offered criticism, I am met with either aggressive push back and only the brave few have the bottle to agree. If any right minded Democrat thinks this is productive, they need to seek medical help. All this nonsense of retweet if you think Biden can do no wrong, or how many out of 10 would you give Biden blah blah blah. For God's sake, we're not teenagers and Biden is certainly not the lead singer of a boy band. Come on guys it's embarrassing, it's the other guy who is running a cult, not Joe Biden. Constructive reasoned criticism should be heard and it should help drive adjustments to the campaign moving forward. Dissent is not the enemy, it's often useful food for thought.
Trump proved in 2016 that Twitter can win an election, he used it to poison a population and IT WORKED. So tell me why that same platform can't be used to fight back for good? I'll tell you why. The resistance on Twitter is becoming a vanity project. It's more about it being a follower harvesting label than a movement for change. Fuck followers, we're here to fight for democracy not for bragging rights. You think MAGA is tribal? Then take a close look at the resister movement. It's become a fragmented echo chamber fearful of expressing dissent. That's not how you win the mid terms, but at least when democracy is flushed down the toilet you'll have 50k followers and you can all cry in your drinks together. It's time to wake up, organise and make a difference. You might well say, 'fuck you' what do you know? You don't even live here. I would respectfully suggest that an outside objective assessment is EXACTLY what is needed right now.
Now, let me counter the above, by saying I know there are some fantastic, dedicated, committed resisters out there that every day go the extra mile for the cause. I interact with these people daily and my admiration for the work they do is limitless. They set the example that represents what resistance is all about and what we should all aspire to be as political activists. I look at the 2022 mid terms as a critical strategic bridge that we have to hold to stop democracy from falling. This is NOT sensationalism, this is reality. There is much said about 'we are stronger together', but sadly we fail to practice what we preach and that gives the enemy the momentum they need to press forward with their authoritarian agenda.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, messaging is key to holding disaster at bay. I had a long zoom call with a large Dem messaging organisation last night that will hopefully help deliver my messaging to a MUCH BIGGER audience. I am fired up and have some big plans to try and help move the needle. Ads however, form only a part of what has to be the biggest political ground game in US history. Voter registration, phone banking, knocking on doors to sell the message is the ONLY way that this battle can be won. Connecting with voters in person to spell out how the Dem policy agenda can make their lives better is beyond critical.
Just step back for a moment to consider this. Mccauliffe lost last night and Phil Murphy is hanging on by his finger tips. At the same time, Republicans have NO POLICIES and are offering nothing to the voter other than burning books, removing the right to choose, giving tax breaks to the rich and permission to hate minorities. Now ask yourself if you have a problem. The answer is clearly YES YOU DO and if you don't wake up and address the problems, you don't deserve a democracy.
Tomorrow I want to talk about a messaging strategy and how TOGETHER we can play a big role in protecting the House and the Senate. Make no mistake, even in good times this would be a challenge. Right now though, it's going to be a very heavy lift. It need lots of campaigning strands to come together, to form a wall of resistance that does not allow obstruction, hate and division to return the US back to 2016, or even worse back to 1950.
I'm sorry if today has been a difficult read, it is not intended to insult or be overly critical. It is a reasoned assessment of the sate of play as of today. The future of American is in your hands. I am pleading with you not to pass up the opportunity to hold the line. The consequences of failure are catastrophic.
Let's catch up tomorrow to look at the way forward. Thanks once again for stopping by and please, stay safe out there.