Monday, May 08, 2006


The Democratic Disconnect and How To Bridge the Gap

After the 2004 election I was puzzled as to why a majority of the voters would vote for the party that would benefit them the least. You know who I'm talking about - the working class, the security moms, the NASCAR dads. These are the people who won't see any benefits from eliminating the estate tax, but they're all for it because it sounds like a tax cut. Why can't the Democrats reach these people? What is the hold that the Republicans have over these voters? Well, I think I've finally figured it out and I'm here to tell you it's a lot simpler than you might think.

The problem lies in the fact that the Democratic party is giving the American voter too much credit. Our elected officials treat them with too much respect. I know that sounds condescending, but stick with me on this. I think it will make sense in the end.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family has two children and makes about $44,389 per year. Between work, children, and family, it stands to reason that a lot of Americans don't have time to follow all the ins-and-outs of their elected officials. If you've got kids, you know what I'm talking about - homework, school plays, Little League, swim lessons, etc. etc. etc. So most Americans tend to get their news from what they hear on the radio on the way to and from work and what they can catch on the nightly news between the answers to "How was your day?" and "What's for dinner?" They have to rely on the traditional media's Reader's Digest version of the goings on in our country. So after they've sifted through the stories about Tom and Katie, Brad and Angelina, and the parade of missing white girls, it's no real mystery why most of America is less than informed. For instance, how much do you suppose they know about the recent scandal involving Cunningham, Foggo, poker, the Watergate Hotel, and hookers? Judging by what I've seen in the traditional media, I'd say none. But the Democrats don't get it. They act as though everyone is privy to the same information they are. If you need proof, check out this exchange between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Tim Russert from yesterday's Meet the Press:

WTF? I'm not sure I even understand what the hell she's saying. She's assuming that anyone watching knows the whole story. But the majority of people don't. Yeah, yeah, I know, most people probably don't watch MTP either, but this problem isn't confined just to Sunday morning gab fests. It's pervasive. Check out almost any statements made by our party's leadership. It's like a puzzle or something.

A long time ago I saw an episode of Mad About You where Paul was trying to register Jamie for classes. He was so confused that he ended up saying "Talk to me like I'm four." This is how the Republicans have managed to ensnare the security moms and the NASCAR dads - they talk to them like they're four! They don't assume that they know what's going on. In fact, Republicans assume that Americans don't have a clue about what's happening and they lay out the issue in the simplest, most self serving terms and they use the most inflammatory language possible. Republicans spoon feed the American voter only the information they want them to know. Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats could learn a lesson from them. Instead of the cloak-and-dagger insinuations, Pelosi's answer could have been much more effective had it gone like this:

Short, simple, and to the point. It assumes that the average viewer doesn't know what's going on and it gives them the high points in terms they can understand. Everyone understands gambling and hookers and while they might enjoy it for themselves, it's not something they want to hear about their elected officials.

For too many years now, the Democratic party has been giving America more credit than it deserves. If they want to bridge the gap and connect with the apathetic voter, the first step is to get America to understand what the hell they're talking about. Plain language for plain people. As a teacher, I've learned that you can't assume anything about what people know. You have to start with the simplest facts and then you can work up from there. The Democrats need to simplify if they really want to bridge that gap.

BTW - Georgieboy's now below the freezing point. He's at 31% and falling.

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