Thursday, June 22, 2017

This is how you do it

This is an ad for Randy Bryce, a man seeking the Democratic nomination for US Representative in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. That has national significance because the seat is currently held by Republican Paul Ryan, currently Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and one of the most important people advancing Don’s agenda in the USA. Defeating Ryan would be awesome, a service to the entire nation.

Bryce describes himself as “a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker”, and says he’s running for Congress because “his values are our neighbors’ values, and Washington has gotten way off track”. All of which is true, especially when contrasted with Ryan, Don, and the Republicans. Specifically, Bryce says:
“My mother has multiple sclerosis, my father is in assisted living, and I survived cancer in my 20s to have a miracle child in my 40s… What Paul Ryan and the Republicans are doing to take health care away from millions of us, to make it cost more and cover less, and to allow the protections we’ve gained to be stripped away – it’s just unacceptable.”
Healthcare is one of the issues on which Republicans are most vulnerable. Tens of millions of Americans will lose their health insurance if TrumpCare becomes law, with tens of millions more paying more money for less coverage. Personal bankruptcies, which plummeted dramatically thanks to Obamacare, will soar once again as people lose everything paying for their healthcare. A majority of voters—even in deep red US states—don’t like TrumpCare.

On the other hand, most of the US newsmedia is ignoring the whole thing, just like US Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell wants it. He’s drafting his bill in super-secret, keeping the details not just from the American people, but also from Democrats in the Senate. He wants to be able to ram it through before anyone has any idea what’s in it.

If McConnell and Senate Republicans succeed in ramming Trumpcare through the Senate, The US House will rubberstamp it and Don will sign it into law. Will 18 months—the rough time until the next Congressional elections—be enough time for Americans to lose their health insurance because of TrumpCare? Will Democrats be able to hold Republicans’ feet to the fire over TrumpCare and the disaster it would mean for millions and millions of Americans? If Democrats can do that, it’ll be by personalising the issue so average voters can identify with it.

And that’s why Bryce’s ad is so good: It talks directly to voters about issues they can personally identify with: Family, hard work, the need for healthcare. He portrays himself as “one of them”, because he is, and that contrasts sharply with Ryan’s elitism and privilege, and although the ad doesn’t make that point directly, voters would get it. Want to reach ordinary voters? This is how you do it.

Republicans always wrap their election messages in appeals to fear of “the other”—immigrants, Muslims, terrorists, LGBT people, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Liberals, Democrats, and so many more. Democrats can appeal to the very real and justified fears of what Don and the Republicans are doing to ordinary voters and their families. But, unlike Republicans, Democrats also need to provide real, concrete, and achievable solutions that will make things better for individual voters and their families. Let Republicans be negative, non-specific, and unfocused, but Democrats must always be positive, specific, focused, and appeal directly to the voters in a way they can identify with.

I have no idea whether Randy Bryce is a good candidate overall, who the other Democratic candidates will be, or who, ultimately, will be the Democratic nominee to take on Paul Ryan. Ryan is vulnerable for being smug, arrogant, selfish, and privileged, sure, but mainly for what he, Don and the Republicans are trying to do to harm the very people Ryan claims to represent in Congress. Defeating Ryan, no matter who does it, would be performing a service to the entire nation.

Update August 14, 2018: Randy Bryce one the Democratic nomination for the race to succeed Paul Ryan who, fortunately for Wisconsin and the entire USA, is retiring from Congress.

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