Democratic Election Strategy Suggestions Should Include A New Approach to Public Relations And Not Beat A Dead Horse; Neither Should Agency Account Teams.

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Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?Arthur Solomon

On May 24, on this site, I wrote a column giving my opinion on why the Republican Party has stymied Democratic legislation on women’s right to choose and gun control. 

I began the column with the following: 

“Ever since the conclusion of the 2020 presidential election, I stayed away from writing columns about politics.  That’s because political pundits of the broadcast and print media are not contributing factual information to their audiences. New information is disseminated in the news sections and the pundits use those details to try to convince followers that  what the pundits write or say is reality, when, actually, it is nothing but the ego-centric opinions of pundits. It was this way yesterday, it is this way today and, thus, it will be this way tomorrow and the many tomorrows that follow until the end of time.”  

I also said that “I didn’t’ intend to write another political column until we were into the 2024 presidential season. But unexpected events occurred. And slowly, like Russia’s probable victory against Ukraine, the overturning of Roe is a Republican Party example of how to win a battle and lose the public relations war. That’s not just my belief. It’s an opinion based on facts that reveal that Russia, because of its invasion of Ukraine, has become a pariah state to much of the world and that the great majority of Americans are against outlawing abortion.”

But another unexpected occurrence, the horrific massacre on May 24 at the in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas  again brought me to the key boards prior to the 2022 election season  to give my opinion on what the Democratic Party’s strategy should be regarding both the abortion issue and the slaughter of the elementary school children in Texas. 

The Democratic candidates’ campaign strategy should concentrate on five issues:

1- Women’s rights to choose,

2 – Republicans opposition to gun control legislation,

3 – Republican’s refusal to provide more funding to combat Covid. 

Those topics should be augmented by,

4 – The January 6 Committee holding public hearings on the insurrection and,

5 – What the Democrats are doing to contain inflation.

Immediately after the shooting at the elementary school, Republicans started to skirt around the gun control issue, attempting to frame the discussion about mental health problems and lax school security; then in the Senate blocking legislation regarding domestic terrorism. Democrats consistently must keep bringing up the subject of gun control legislation, domestic terrorism and the banning of military style weapons to get GOP senators on the record, just as the Republicans did when they controlled the Senate and forced numerous votes about the over turning of ObamaCare. (Both ObamaCare and gun control legislation has broad voter support, as does a woman’s right to choose).

In Houston, just three days after the shootings and 280 miles from Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children were massacred at an elementary school, the National Rifle Association went ahead with its usual irrational convention, during which speakers blamed the slaughter of children on issues like the breakdown of the American family, social media posts, violent media games and “evil.” Every possible reason for the mass killings was spoken except the one that could have prevented it – more restrictive gun control legislation.
 
The keynote speaker at the event, Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former delusional president, of course blamed President Joe Biden. Trump, who appears more detached from reality each time he speaks said, “The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens who can protect a lot of people. The existence of evil is one of the best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens.” Missing from his remarks was any mention of gun-reform legislation. The remarks by convention speakers should have been immediately been followed by Democratic leadership scheduling a vote on gun control legislation. (In my opinion, the root of evil exists on the golf course at Mar-A-Lago.)

But instead of forcing the gun issue by scheduling votes, Democratic leadership agreed to a 10 day delay during which compromise legislation is being discussed. This, in my opinion, is a waste of time. Odds are that nothing substantial will emerge from the talks. History shows that. That means the issue of gun control will be decided by voters in the November mid-term election.

And depending on voter turnout in a non-presidential election year is a major problem for Democrats because Republican voters vote, Democratic voters take a holiday. 

For those readers who missed it, here’s what I also said in my May 24 column. “Instead of marches and other forms of protesting, abortion rights advocates should use every minute organizing people to vote. They should start ringing door bells now and not stop until after Election Day. Because on Election Day it will not be the pro or anti-abortion forces that decide the outcome. The election will not be decided by the side that gets the most TV time. The winners will be decided by what  former President Richard Nixon called the “silent majority.”  Because it is the “silent majority” whose voices are heard on Election Day.” Substantial legislation about gun control and abortion rights is not in the hands of current elected officials but in the hands of voters. 

Between now and Election Day, the Democrats must also team up with pro-gun control allies, which include many retired peace officers.  These individuals should be used as spokespeople on TV and radio outlets and also for print interviews in rural communities, whose voters with good cause distrust national Democratic politicians who have ignored rural voters’ concerns for decades. Local Democratic officials should also arrange for the peace officers to speak at community functions.

Also necessary is for the Democrats to have spokespeople on TV who look and talk more like rural Americans. Doing this would certainly infuriate Afro-American groups, the Democratic Party’s most loyal supporters, thus far. But recent elections show that the number of Afro-Americans and Hispanics who vote Democratic is declining. In order to have a sustainable future the Democratic Party must change with the times, which also means dumping their PR approach, which results in their winning the media wars but losing the issue wars.

A good place to start is to study the approach of victorious Democratic candidates in states that are staunchly Republican and build a new public relations effort around those tactics. An immediate easy fix is having spokespeople with southern, mountain and mid-western accents deliver the Democratic messages.

The Democratic PR problem in many ways is not un-similar to our business: Once a program is approved by a client, the account team usually rides it to the end, even when the prudent thing is to notify the client that the program isn’t working and needs midcourse revisions.  Not admitting that a program is not working is self-defeating for our clients and the Democratic Party. In both instances, changes are needed. Beating a dead horse results in defeat.

A strategy along these lines mean that progressive Democratic wants, such as expanded medical care, the green deal, an increased tax on multi-millionaires  and a path to citizenship for immigrants would be shunted aside until after the 2022 mid-term and 2024 presidential elections.

Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her limited Squad, would rant that ignoring their wants means that the Democratic Party is drifting rightward, (which, of course, is only a figment of their imagination). 

But as I learned at my first public relations job at a political agency the only way to accomplish something is by winning; losing on principle is just losing. And it doesn’t even make you feel good.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He has been a key player on Olympic marketing programs and also has worked at high-level positions directly for Olympic organizations. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com.