In less than two years the mid-term elections will be held, putting Democrat control of the House and Senate at risk. That control already rests on a knife-edge and mid-terms historically go badly for the party in power.
Politics is not “the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best,” as defined by 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. That was a definition that held for well over a century but, unfortunately is no longer valid. Republican Newt Gingrich chewed that one up and spit it out.
In my view, politics today is the art of persuasion and really always has been—typified by the snake-oil salesman, the carnival barker and evangelist from the pulpit. Americans love snake oil and Trump was, if anything, a carnival barker extraordinaire.
None of which define good old steady, experienced, reliable Joe Biden.
Case in point
Biden indicated in a CNN town hall Tuesday that he would be open to a more gradual phase-in, to allay concerns among business owners about an rapid doubling of the minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25.
“Let’s say you said you’re going to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour between now and the year 2025 to $12 an hour, to $13 an hour — you’d double someone’s pay, and the impact on business would be absolutely de minimis, and it would grow the GDP,” Biden said.
“I do support a $15 minimum wage,” Biden said, while adding of the business impact: “But that’s a debatable issue.”
Not with Republicans it’s not, Joe. Don’t dare to go there. They smell blood in the water. Mitch McConnell sees his recovery of the Senate in 2022 and it makes his chin fairly tremble.
Republicans will Obama you, Joe. Their eighteen-month strategy will be to deny you every scrap of legislation you ask for and make sure you lose both the House and Senate in the mid-term elections.
So, what to do?
Stop trying to raise bi-partisanship from the grave. Only Jesus accomplished that and it was after they crucified him. That’s wasted time and you and Kamala have no time.
The most optimistic of circumstances don’t allow major legislation and—more importantly—show significant enough progress to hold on to those slim majorities you enjoy. Don’t beat a dead-horse, there’s simply too much at stake.
Introduce a new horse.
Do what hasn’t been done in political history
Town-hall meetings and appearances on the Sunday political talk shows aren’t enough. We do not need to hear what you plan to do and why it makes sense. You must change the minds of those who don’t understand where you’re going, Joe.
How do we change minds in America? Seriously, how did the fashion industry convince our nation to pay $120 a pair for $8 farmer’s work pants?
Madison Avenue ad agencies got Steve Jobs and Elon Musk to set the trend, striding across the stage before thousands of cheering fans in jeans and black tee-shirts. The market for button-down shirts and ties fell apart, as every CEO wanted to be open-collared and cool. 200 years of male business attire gone up in smoke.
That’s advertising. That’s Madison Avenue
And that’s your best hope, perhaps your only hope.
The Green New Deal is the center-piece of your team’s job creation program to quickly rebuild the American middle class—but the voters don’t understand it.
And when you try to put it in context in a town-hall meeting, I don’t understand it either. How does it affect me? Where do I fit in?
Explain it to me in my home town. I’m ready to buy the $120 blue jeans, but only if they fit and make my life better.
Bring in Madison Avenue, Joe and give the marketing boys a challenge
Have them define what the Green New Deal specifically means for Green Bay, Wisconsin; Roanoak, Virginia; Dubuque, Iowa and San Antonio, Texas. They’re all different. They don’t give a shit about the country, Joe. They care about Green Bay, Roanoak, Dubuque and San Antonio.
Break America down into two or three hundred disparate localities—because we live in fundamentally different and distinct cultures. Then hammer ad campaigns at them, delivered, endorsed and introduced by the most recognizable Democrat in hearing and viewing range.
Bring in a celebrity here and there if it can be managed. George Clooney’s a Kentucky guy and he loves the Green New Deal.
But make it resonate locally. Tell me a story about how my life will change.
Great advertising costs money. Find it. Put the campaign on a war-footing if that’s what it takes. Bring big doners in for a few billion—it’s their country too and they’ve been neglecting it. Get on the phone and build a fire in the ad community. There’s no time to lose.
Roll it out. Repeat. Fine tune and repeat
Pick you targets and put the ad guys to work:
The pandemic? Give Fauci some help and show us where victory lies and problems slow the progress.
College loan forgiveness? Our young people need help, but the help is different in Athens, Georgia than it is in New York City. Don’t tell us, show us.
The electric grid? California is burning down and Texas freezing because private ownership of a public utility simply doesn’t work. If the answer is nationalization, tell us why and how it will affect me—wherever I live.
Your administration is the most important as any since the Civil War for the survival of American republican democracy .
Treat it that seriously.
Lincoln said if you want to know the true character of a man, give him power.
I guess we’ve seen what kind of character power brought to the Republican party and if your adversary lacks character, there’s little to be gained in debate.
For god’s sake, sell us some farmer pants.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons