The Democratic Party's problem isn't that we don't have the right message. It's that we have dozens of messages, and we drown ourselves out while Republicans have a clear and simple message that everyone recognizes. Most of our messages are pretty good, but we need to pick one common baseline message that everyone can learn so the American people can hear us over the noise.
The 2014 Democratic autopsy showed that our own base can't explain what it means to be a Democrat. This is a fundamental problem which has not been addressed. We have many other problems, but this one needs to be fixed in order to fix the other ones. We may never sound like the cast of "Hamilton" but we need to give voters a common point of reference and we need lots of practice.
Republicans have a brutally simple message that has been drilled into people's minds for the past 50 years: "Smaller government equals lower taxes, equals more freedom." It's a national message that works in every corner of the country, and their candidates tap into it like turning on a light switch. Republicans draw a contrast with Democrats with something like: "Don't vote for those baby-killing socialists who want to raise your taxes." Meanwhile, Democrats have dozens of messages that are all over the map and it ends up sounding like chaos to the voters we need to reach.
The Republican message is dishonest because it leaves out that only the wealthy end up getting the tax cuts. They leave out how they would dismantle 50 years of progress in social and economic justice. And when they talk about "freedom," they mean deregulating banks and corporations so they have the "freedom" to rip us off until they crash our economy (again). Democrats are left cleaning up their mess while Republicans complain about how slow Democrats are at cleaning up their mess. We try to explain this to people but we drown each other out and all that people remember is smaller government equals lower taxes equals more freedom and don't vote for those baby-killing socialists who want to raise your taxes. Republicans end up in charge again and we start all over.
We need to pick one common baseline Democratic message that is clear and concise and draws a strong contrast with what Republicans actually do. We also need millions of Democrats in every corner of the country to learn and repeat that message with conviction to anyone who will listen.
Here is one example: Democrats invest in the middle class because it creates a stronger, more stable economy that works better for everyone.
In contrast, Republicans still believe in trickle-down economics even though it wrecked our economy during both Bush administrations.
Whatever we come up with, we need practice, practice and more practice.
Todd Smyth, Fairfax, Va.