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Late Night: The Democratic Party’s Performance in the 2014 Election

Stick to your base, and stop trying to fool people by “being clever.” It isn’t clever.

An open letter to Debbi Wasserman Schultz:

I’m a root cause person. I like to dig into root cause and find out why an activity was performed in the way it was performed.

I also start from the position that no one who is senior in any organization is stupid. They would not be senior if they were stupid. I also wrestle during an analysis with the “that’s stupid” reaction to which I perceive as bad performance, but, for me, that’s just impatience talking.

The basic of a marketing campaign (and I’m assuming an election is a marketing campaign):

  1. Define the Target Market
  2. Discover the Need
  3. Prove the Need
  4. Handle Concerns and Objections
  5. Close

This is Patterson’s formula. Patterson was the head of NCR when it was the most successful sales organization on the planet, and Tom Watson who was VP of Sales for NCR, took this focused approach to IBM and grew IBM to become an amazing company.

Target Market: The Democrats have three obvious target markets:

  1. People who will either vote Democratic or not at all
  2. The “independent” voters
  3. Large contributors

Because political affiliation is based on something akin to religious feeling or dogma, there are those who will never vote Democratic, ever. It is not productive to focus on why, just acknowledge that they exist. There’s no point in wasting energy on converting someone who is not interested. As was once said about the two competing theories of light, Newton’s corpuscular and Huygens’s wave theory, which eventually settled on wave theory, Huygens was asked how he convinced the corpuscular camp to believe in his theory. His response was “I didn’t, they died”.

In other words the corpuscular theory gained no new believers.

I’m not going to answer, or assert, why each possible segment behaved as they did in 2012. I’m going to ask questions. Questions which should be answered for the next election, because the past is past and the future awaits our efforts.

Establish Needs

A note on human behavior: Fear of loss is a much bigger motivator than opportunity to gain.

  • Fear of loss: What items of value to the group would Republicans take from:
    1. People who will either vote Democratic or not at all to make them vote?
    2. “Independent” voters?
    3. Large Contributors (Hint: Some Large loss of Money)?
  • Opportunity for Gain: What will Democrats provide gain for:
    1. People who will either vote Democratic or not at all to make them vote?
    2. “Independent” voters?
    3. Large Contributors (Hint: Some Large sum of Money)?

Each category could contain three or four things, but not dozens.

This answers each group’s question: “What’s in it for me?”


The needs addressed above need proof, anecdotes, examples, human stories, which explicitly support people in a program that is threatened, or people who are desperate for some promised gain.

For example, immigration reform, benefits the “illegals,” their families and communities, who if betrayed, will be lost for at least a generation.

What proof do you offer to motivate the indifferent or skeptical?

The Republicans show admirable discipline in their governing efforts, and are very effective in getting what their constituencies want.

Handle Concerns and Objections

These typically revolve around “How Can We Afford That” or “That will Threaten National Security.”

Understand how money works in a fiat currency, and sectoral balances in the economy, and how that impacts the Federal Budget, and Private Sector Wealth Accumulation. Accept that the Private sector maximizes profits and socializes costs, and explain that Government is the other side of the mirror and must socialize profits and incur costs (This is the key to income inequality).

For example: Roads are consumed (i.e. used) by the private sector, but are built by government.

When that is reversed, and the Private Sector builds roads, the result is a regressive form of taxation, in the form of road tolls, or “user fees,” which redistributes wealth from poor to rich.

Get specific on threats to “National Security” and explain there is never a perfect solution; there is always a balance between best efforts and destroying individual liberties, and ask what is the acceptable balance. Let your electorate decide the balance, and then stick to it!


The next part is to demonstrate solutions. Specific programs which either currently benefit people, or programs which would benefit people if Democrats govern (not just to keep seats warm in the House). If you can’t govern when you have the opportunity, don’t waste the time of 340 million people. Get out of the way, and let someone who can, govern.

This does assume that target markets, People who will either vote Democratic or not at all and “Independent” voters are to be really served (and not considered effing retards). That is you intend to follow through on your promises. Don’t betray your customers, your base; it is bad for future business.

President Obama has already given you two lessons in bad customer relations, losses in 2012 and 2014. You need to set a new standard, and prove to people that you will stick to it. You have two years. If you can’t do it in two years, you don’t deserve to govern, after your two recent past performances.

When in Power – Remain Loyal to your base

If they didn’t give you money, or contributed to both sides, or did not vote for you, they deserve no reward. There is no “on the other hand.” They are either for you or against you. Those for you get the reward.

Including others will demonstrate even-handedness on your part, but do not try to sell them on your party. Do not punish them for not voting for you like the Republicans seem to do, but consider your constituencies when making critical decisions. They are the ones who may choose to vote for you again, if you show them that you are truly interested in what they need and what they want. Make policies based on your widest intersection of your constituencies, and when possible, include some of the things that others want, if they do not conflict with your priorities.

Wins in 2008 and 2012, and losses in 2012 and 2014 have demonstrated that you need your base in order to succeed. Trying to fool them by saying one thing and doing another merely leads to a “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” reaction. It’s not elevety-seven dimensional chess, it is flagrantly dishonest, unethical, and counterproductive.

Stick to your base, and stop trying to fool people by “being clever.” It isn’t clever. It’s destructive to the unity of your party, which you need in order to elect people. If you don’t build unity in your base and in your party, you will eventually be replaced. Remember that the Republicans replaced the Whigs in the middle 1800’s. If you can’t keep your base together, you will be replaced like the Whigs were. And you’ll deserve it.

Image by Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Andrew Bulhak / Flickr under Creative Commons license

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