Dear Democratic Party Leadership –
Here’s some critique and some advice from a white female educated southerner who now lives in Ohio but goes home regularly. For the record I’m middle-class and, so far, a yellow-dog Democrat.
1. You need to get your sh*t together.
2. Develop real economic, educational, international and social agendas with real policies and how-tos – Invite in all the smart people to work on this. It’s not a party platform to say we’re not Trump. Trump is lifestyles of the rich and famous. People are not going to turn away from that if you don’t offer something real. Also you have to address this line of “personal responsibility” that folks like Ryan spout. There’s a fantasy that there are scores of people not taking responsibility and the rest of us are suffering for it – there are, but they’re not who they’re saying it is.
3. Develop bipartisan strategies. Identify people across the aisle you can work with. Help the Republicans moderate. Make this part of what sets you apart – educate the public on what is good government and best governing practices. (Look into this so you know what you’re talking about.) Don’t attack someone just because they’re a Republican – make it worth their while to work with you. Become the grown ups we so desperately need. A functioning government requires dialogue, compromise and coalitions. We need to move away from all or nothing.
4. Pick your candidates and establish strategies now for 2018 and 2020 – manage expectations. You screwed the pooch on this in Georgia. Georgia was actually a win because it was a fight and it got a message out but you lost this gain when you failed to manage expectations.
5. Stop eating your young. This Bernie vs. Hillary thing is absolute bullshit. Identify talent – cultivate it – push it. You're distracting from your "young" talent by all of 2016 rehash. Do understand what you did right, and what you did wrong, but not everyone needs to be at the autopsy.
6. Develop strategies and best practices for being heard on social media. Educate your field troops in how to go about it. You suck at this. You try to play Trump, et.al.’s game and it stinks. It stinks when they do it and it stinks worse when you do it. Stop the hyperbole. Stop the name-calling. Go troll hunting but don’t be a troll. Let the professionals - the Baldwins, Larry Wilmore, Robin Thede, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, etc. - handle that – they’re very good at it and its funny. Everyone else - at every turn speak truth to power but do it without Bullshit. Call out racism, sexism, classism, homophobia – at every turn – but do it without bullshit.
7. Inform and persuade. Take the time to inform people as to what Populism should be, the differences between private and public and what it means to provide for the common defense – the limits of libertarianism – how bias works and how f**ked up our legal system is, etc.
8. The accusation that you’re elitists is mostly true. Those not like you, who don’t agree with you, you hold in contempt and you heap ridicule upon them. The Right and alt-right does this too and to a greater degree, that doesn’t make it good, right, or fair. Our culture is drowning in contempt. Yes – there are people with some mind-blowing views but you have to do the hard work of winning hearts and minds. Some of those ideas are soul-cringingly repugnant (white nationalism for example), but if we don’t take it on at its core, we will never “win” – (stop a moment and think about what “winning” should mean). Check your prejudices at the door – (as a white southerner with a certain accent I’ve run into this) - all of them. Figure out why folks on the other side think the things they do and speak to it. Build a coalition with the religious left. Don’t shy away from religious issues. Have a real economic strategy for areas that struggle economically. Education is part of this and not just jobs training, but the kind of education that can lead to careers. Identify the drivers of homegrown economies that can lead to economic stability in areas like the South, the Rustbelt, the Midwest, those Urban centers that are struggling – what is your plan to build the middleclass? How do you cultivate entrepreneurship and small businesses? Stop writing off “Red” states – go there – talk to people about what matters to them – F**king persuade them. Be in this for the long haul – have principles and risk losing for them – know what you’ll die on your sword for – make sure people know what these are. We are in a fight for the soul of this nation - f**king act like it.
9. Give people room to change – when a public figure yields ground let them – praise them – give them credit – when they uncynically apologize or “flop” on an important issue – support that – keep watching - but give them room to come around.
10. Manage expectations – yours and others.
11. Have a f**king vision.