An Unsolicited 2012 Electoral Strategy

This mock 2012 Electoral Strategy Memo is unsolicited advice for anyone who wants to run for Federal office — except for maybe a Tea Partier — during these awful political and economic times.

MEMORANDUM: 2012 electoral strategy given the awful state of government, our economy, and our politics.

TO: Generic Candidate

Part 1: What Voters Know: First, let’s look at what what most Americans can reasonably be expected to know. We do this because it helps guide your candidacy about what to talk about.

  1. In 2008, there was a devastating economic collapse that was primarily brought about by various parts of Wall Street run amok.
  2. Their tax dollars are what bailed out Wall Street run amok.
  3. They have, or know someone who has, lost a job, a home, or both.
  4. Unemployment is now 9.1 percent.
  5. No real reforms from D.C. have been put in place to ensure that a collapse won’t happen again.
  6. While they struggle to make ends meet, Wall Street execs are still making multi-million dollar bonuses.
  7. Companies (aka Big Oil, Big Banks, and Wall Street) are taking home record profits while, at the same time, laying off thousands of people.
  8. Their kids’ schools are declining instead of improving, their healthcare costs are skyrocketing, their Medicare and Social Security are being cut.
  9. The country’s infrastructure is falling behind the rest of the world or outright falling apart.
  10. The country is in serious debt because of the Bush tax cuts, the cost of fighting multiple wars, and the loss of revenue that resulted from high unemployment because of the collapse.
  11. D.C. is currently useless, controlled by Tea Party Republicans and incompetent and/or complicit Democrats alongside a president who can’t stop the Tea Party.
  12. The rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and the middle class keeps getting smaller.

Part 2: What Voters Feel in Their Gut:

  1. Government in D.C. is fundamentally broken.
  2. Government in D.C. serves the powerful and connected.
  3. They have no power to change government in D.C. and its awful state.

Part 3: The Result: People now generally fall into one of three groups as it relates to the above.

  1. Citizens who have lost complete confidence in their government, politics, economy, and the ability of our democracy to function itself.
  2. Citizens who have lost some to a great deal of confidence.
  3. Citizens who have heard about a lack of confidence from those who have lost confidence.

Part 4a: Action: What to do if running for an open seat, primary, or against an incumbent:

  1. Continually articulate how we got here (see Part 1: What Voters Know).
  2. Demonstrate your empathy (not just sympathy) we got here.
  3. Talk about how we get back on track and demonstrate in your campaign media and campaign actions your commitment to do just that. Specifically: argue that jobs and the economy are the absolute policy focus; demonstrate that you will relentlessly take on the powers that brought us down in 2008 so that they can’t do it again; demonstrate that you won’t stand for the culture of D.C. continuing.
  4. Remember that no one from D.C. is your friend. No one from Wall Street is your friend. No one from big business is your friend. Voters could be your only friends, but you have to win them over.
  5. Call for the end of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and use that to move the debate away from the Tea Party and into the framework about how we got here and how we get out of it. Also do this because it is the right economic policy and polling shows a majority of Americans agree.
  6. Avoid all D.C. speak. Instead, talk about your opponents as from D.C. and/or from the place and culture that brought on this mess in the first place. Ask how people can reasonably expect to “trust” your opponent with fixing the problems when (if they are an incumbent) they won’t even address the real sources and/or were there to cause it and/or only continued to empower those that caused it.
  7. Avoid “big ideas” and “hope.” That’s so 2006 to 2010. People want a pragmatic fighter who gets it, can fix it and won’t let it happen again.
  8. Be frustrated, urgent, sincere, optimistic, and just a bit outraged.
  9. Believe in what you’re saying.

Part 4b: Action: What to do if you are an incumbent:

  1. Hope none of your opponents figure this out. Seriously, Scott Brown only figured out part of it, and he won a U.S. Senate seat.
  2. Remember that, at a minimum, you were in D.C. during this most recent debt ceiling fiasco and the most recent market crash. Worse yet, you were more likely there in 2008 and during the Bush Jr. years in some capacity. That means you’ve got some explaining to do, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. Good luck with that.