The big picture


Given all the chaos, obstruction and disinformation the right wing media has pumped out since Joe Biden was elected, it's not surprising that the American people are confused as to the state of the nation. At a time when record investment is being made, current polls indicate that Americans are NOT feeling good about where the country is. If you look at polling, Biden's popularity started to slip during August and following the Afghanistan withdrawal, the slide accelerated to a low of around 38%. Much is being made by mainstream media of these numbers and Dems can't really argue. Poor messaging has allowed competency to be raised as an issue. Voters sadly don't give credit for a Delta variant surge having to be addressed and the disinformation and chaos being spread by the GOP. It's unfair and short sighted, but it is a harsh political reality. A year away from the mid terms, this is not terminal, but it is very unwise to dismiss these polls as some Dems are doing. Part of addressing the problem of poor polls, is to understand what caused the drop in public confidence. They can of course be inaccurate, but I do feel that at the beginning of November, they were probably reflective of the public mood.


The biggest mistake any Dem strategist could make, is to assume that throwing money at the situation makes it go away. Proof of that comes from the investment that came from the American Rescue Plan. If you wanted evidence that Americans have short memories, there it is. Without this critical investment, many small businesses would have closed and struggling families would have faced immeasurable economic stress. It is a sad fact of life that we live in a disposable society where gratification is taken as a given. The government filled the financial hole that many Americans found themselves in, with cash to help keep them afloat. However, Dems are now watching their potential support sail off into the sunset, as messaging from the right, convinces them they are being let down. Inflation and supply chain issues are making everything more expensive and there's nothing like higher gas prices to focus the attention. Never being a party to let the truth get in the way of a great lie, the Republicans have successfully turned a global issue into a Biden issue.

The reality is, jobs are being added at an average of 422,000 a month over the last 3 months. 80% of the population have had at least one jab and 193 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Add to that, Trump's golden benchmark of the stock market (which was supposed to crash when he left office), is at an all time high. So why then do the American people believe that the US is on the wrong track and that Biden is not doing a good job? Simple, the GOP absolutely owns the narrative. Politics has always been a dirty game, but once the lie is normalised, you can as the Republicans have, create an alternative universe where even Big Bird can become an enemy of the people. If the GOP spent a fraction of the time they spend on disinformation, developing a policy agenda that might be a much better use of their time. However, rest assured they will argue that they are doing just fine as they are thank you.


What do I want to see in 2022? I want to see the Dems own the political battlefield, increase majorities in both the House and Senate. This would enable them to pass meaningful legislation that will protect democracy and create a more equitable society based on the principal of social responsibility. There is absolutely no reason why the US could not be an economic powerhouse. Using technology and green jobs to spearhead the drive. They could once again lead the world, whilst at the same time providing a living wage for EVERY US worker. It's not a pipe dream, it's well within reach, if they are allowed to legislate to create the conditions needed to make it happen. However, unless the American people can be convinced in a year, that social responsibility is NOT socialism, history tells us, Republicans will make gains that will take America back to the 1950s. In the same way that Trump thought, to keep telling a lie over and over would make it the truth, Dems need to stop thinking the promotion of fairness and equality won't magically just disappear if they throw money at it. Driving a policy agenda home is a highly skilled disciplined art form and right at this moment, it seems to me it's a limited skillset in the Dem toolbox.


So the burning question is, can it be done? I genuinely think it can, but it's going to take a number of imperratives to come together. I like to call them the 'Mid term trifecta'.


  1. The January 6 Committee needs to be successful in exposing the administration's active involvement in the insurrection and their preceding seditious activity.

  2. There MUST be a 'carve out' of the filibuster to enable the passing of federal voter legislation, to ensure full and open access for ALL Americans to cast their vote.

  3. There must be the biggest ground game in US electoral history to ensure that all those that can vote do vote.


If the Dems can make all these happen, the messaging piece of the jigsaw has all the elements it needs to drive home the policy agenda. It all sounds so simple doesn't it? The truth is, it's a HUGE ask, but without it, the outlook is grim.

Never underestimate the psyche of the American voter. Polls indicate that the GOP message of the 'radical left' still DOES resonate, so progressives who dismiss this, do it at their peril. The one thing that the Dems can't afford to have, is another 'Defund the police' moment. It simply can't happen. If it does, then it's game over, so messaging discipline is absolutely pivotal. There is no question that a progressive message resonates in a number of constituencies where there are large numbers of low paid workers. However, in suburban middle class constituencies, that message frightens many voters into voting Republican, simply because of one word 'socialism'. We know that the progressive agenda is as far from socialism, as Donald Trump telling the truth. However, it comes from decades of political conditioning that tells these voters, their taxes will increase to improve the lives of black and brown people who will then move into their neighbourhoods and tank their house values.


The progressive caucus has a critically important role to play in the future of Democratic politics and it is a vital check and balance to ensure that the party does not swerve to the right. However, by the same token, it is a liability in that it provides the opposition with a messaging target to reinforce the socialism tag. The key here, is to strike the right balance and this is a major issue in my book that needs to be carefully addressed. The progressives believe that they have a much larger electoral base than they do in reality. You would be hard pressed to get any reasonable minded American to disagree with the premise that America should be a fairer society. A society in which no American should be homeless or have their children go to bed hungry. People do understand fairness and believe that's how society should be. That is until it comes time for it to affect them. This is when the Republican agenda looks more attractive as they arrive at the polling place. It is largely who we are as humans. As the song says 'Self preservation is what's really going on today'.


So where am I going with this? Simple. Understand the enemy and understand the vulnerabilities you bring to the campaign for 2022. In the present, America is NOT prepared to move too far to the left, it is simply not who America is. They will however I believe, be prepared to vote for people to get a fairer shake and that is the sweet spot. NEVER has this balance been so critical in the survival of democracy. It's difficult to assess what exactly to run on at this early stage, other than to make sure that every single benefit of the Infrastructure and Build Back Better bills, are embedded into every political conversation with voters. It's not rocket science, but I thought that about the American Rescue Plan. It is absolutely critical to ensure that messaging failure is NOT repeated.


It is not for nothing that the Republicans weren't pressing too hard on infrastructure. They are now looking at perfect timing for the CBO scoring to come back on Build Back Better. It will tie directly into the rerun of the upcoming debt ceiling battle and now, they'll be able to tie the $1.85 trillion social spending bill into their argument. It is perfect timing for the GOP and the Dems didn't even see it coming, he said with his head in his hands slightly rocking back and forth.


Well, that's my wise words for today. Join me again tomorrow for another chat when I want to take a closer look at infrastructure and the electoral juice it could provide for Democrats in 2022. Thanks fro stopping by and stay safe out there.

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