“Pinocchio” and the Two Democratic Parties (Op-Ed)

Elliot Fineman

The very act of the Democrats selecting a presidential nominee for the 2020 election will most likely cost them the election. However, there is a path forward that will assure that the Democrats win the House, the Senate and the Presidency. 

Numerous in-depth studies of the 2016 and 2018 elections by highly qualified groups including The Election Project, NPR and PEW make it abundantly clear that without converting a single Pinocchio’s supporter, the Democrats have the numbers, by state, to win the Electoral College in a landslide. This, provided that a sufficient number of the non-voters in the last election––both registered and non-registered––turn out to vote in the 2020 election. 

Further, the Democrats should not try to convince any of Pinocchio’s supporters to change their vote and, in fact, their message to them is a simple one: if you believe Pinocchio is going to take you to the promised land by taking away your health care, destroying the social safety net and plunging the country into bankruptcy, by all means you should vote for him. 

The fact is that the Democrats are essentially two parties—centrist and progressive. The selection of a centrist candidate will keep many progressive voters and some independents from voting while the selection of a progressive candidate will keep many centrist and some independents from voting. These competing positions cannot be reconciled. 

Pinocchio and the Two Democratic PartiesThe path to victory requires the Democrats commit to do certain things within the first year (provided they win the House, Senate and Presidency) regardless of who the final candidate is. These are “common good” measures that both centrists and progressives currently embrace. With these measures in place, the areas of disagreement would be decided between the two Democratic parties after the election. 

This means an agenda that any centrist or progressive candidate will support irrespective of the final nominee. The Democrat candidates and incumbents will be required to sign resignation letters, effective one year from the election, if they do not accomplish these measures. The reason is the non-voter is critical to the Democrats’ success and their primary reasons for abstaining – that their vote doesn’t matter; that politicians do not keep their word ––must be addressed. Unswerving trust must be built. There can be no better assurance than signing resignation letters. 

Specific common good measures include 1) Expanding the Supreme Court from nine to 11 Justices to undo the stolen conservative majority 2) Reinstating and strengthening the overturned environmental laws and re-joining the Paris climate agreement 3) A commitment to prosecute “Pinocchio,” his family and others for illegal activities to the full extent of the law 4) A commitment to tear down any walls or parts of walls that have been built along the southern border 5) A commitment to prosecute Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for treason because he has given “aid and comfort” to enemy foreign countries by refusing to allow the protection of our elections from their interference. 6) Maintaining and strengthening current health care insurance programs––with a final version that can range from a public option to “Medicare for all” to be decided when the Democrats have taken control of the House, Senate and the Presidency 7) Crippling fines for red states that have refused to accept expanded Medicaid to tremendously reduce the number of people without health care insurance 8) Tuition debt relief for students with current debt and for students who have paid off their student loans, 9) Immigration reform that does not allow open borders but is compassionate, fair and secure 10) Immediate dissolution of horrific detention centers and reunification of separated children with their parents 11) Stabilizing Social Security to ensure it never runs out of money and can pay current or future expanded benefits 12) Expanded minimum wage for workers based on the regional cost of living not an across-the-board flat rate 13) Restore unrestricted Title X family planning grants to family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood 14) Reauthorizing the Violence Against Woman Act. 

Other key issues include, socialism, Presidential debates, food deserts, racism and disruptive technological advances. 

Socialism. Democrats must differentiate between Socialism 1) Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia and Socialism 2) Sweden, Norway and Finland. No Democrat wants Socialism 1. Annual surveys, however, show that the happiest people in the world live under Socialism 2. Further, those countries have millionaires and billionaires and market-based capitalism. 

Presidential debates. Trump is a known liar whether it’s congenital, accidental or uninformed is not important. What is important is to know that lying is cheating and one does not compete in games where the other side cheats. You would not play bingo if you knew the game was dishonest, you would not want your team playing in sports contests against teams that cheated. You would not play poker or golf for money with people who cheated––in fact they would be permanently barred; they would never be allowed to play. 

The Democratic nominee should refuse to participate in Presidential debates with Pinocchio – – you cannot win a debate with somebody who cheats. While the nominee will respond to a question with facts Pinocchio will invent facts or tell lies. 

The next day fact checkers will give hard data that confirms their facts and Pinocchio’s fact checker Motor mouth 1 (Kellyanne Conway) will have “alternative facts.” It will be “he said/she said.” 

Instead, the selected Democratic nominee should hold national town hall meetings to allow eligible voters to get to know them and understand the Democratic Party’s absolute commitment to the common good measures 

Further, the argument that Trump supporters will perhaps be persuaded by watching the debate is irrelevant. Trump supporters are not needed for the Democrats to win the House, Senate and Presidency and pursuing them will cost the votes of Democrat supporters. 

“Cheaters gonna cheat.” That’s why every voting machine must have a paper ballot trail. Does anyone remember that last year China granted initial approval for 16 new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand, including voting machines? 

Food deserts. There are over 23 million people living in “food deserts”–– areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food. While the great majority are in low-income urban areas, there are significant numbers in low-income rural areas. Democrats must make a firm commitment to eliminate these food deserts utilizing innovative existing tools including traveling supermarkets, container farms locally placed and encouraging supermarket outlets with major tax incentives. 

Racism. Calling Pinocchio a racist will not win the election. Racism is a disease –– it’s hardwired into racists from birth and they’re not going to change. Its evil effects can be controlled but it is not relevant to the Democrats sweeping the election. 

Disruptive technological advances. Democrats should insist developers who create disruptive technological advances like self-driving cars/trucks that make them incredibly wealthy by putting millions of people out of work must significantly fund safety net programs to compensate/train displaced workers. 

Pinocchio did not win the 2016 election––Hillary Clinton lost it. She lost it by following a predictably losing strategy.  Democrats cannot make that mistake again.  There will not be another chance to correct. Gerrymandering has been approved by the Supreme Court; Citizens United lets elections be bought. The 2020 election can’t be done wrong––there’s no recovering from error. 


About the Author: ELLIOT FINEMAN: For 25 years, Fineman was a strategic marketing advisor to major consulting firms, including Accenture, KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group, which advised Fortune 500 companies. He was recognized for his extraordinary skills as a marketing strategist. Trained at MIT as a civil engineer, Fineman has debated top-echelon NRA spokespeople on radio and television and has addressed undergraduate and graduate students on the topic of gun violence around the country. He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, and Fox News and been quoted by top media outlets, including USA Today, National Public Radio, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He was the host of a program on WPWC radio in Washington, D.C called, It’s the Guns, Stupid. He is president and founder of the National Gun Victims Action Council™ (NGVAC). His book, “We’re Done Asking: 23-46-40: The Numbers To End the Gun Violence Epidemic In 12 Months,” will be published this fall. 

National Gun Victims Action Council™ (NGVAC) is a non-profit network of millions of gun victims, survivors, the faith community and ordinary people leveraging their buying power to change America’s gun laws. Ten months before the Sandy Hook massacre, NGVAC initiated the successful action that caused Starbucks to change its gun policy. NGVAC pursues novel legal strategies to reduce gun violence and encourages corporations to be proactively involved in advocating for gun safety laws.

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1 Comment

  1. Elly Sidel on August 15, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Fineman is right on. If the Dems followed his advice they would surely win. I’m sad to say that I doubt they will.