By Ralph Nader
Prospects for Democrats winning in November in the House and Senate have picked up recently. Nonetheless, political pundits are still not counting on the Democrats to win the House of Representatives. Candidates have eight weeks to refine their policies, messages, and strategies to energize and mobilize voters.
If they break through the force field of their political and media consultants – often conflicted with corporate clients and 15% commissions for TV/radio ads – and tap into the experience of citizen advocacy groups, they can win a comfortable margin in Congress.
Astonishingly, citizen leaders for years have been marginalized to their and the Democratic politicians’ disadvantage. The Republicans do not make such mistakes. Witness the roles and influence of right-wing advocacy groups such as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the National Taxpayers Union.
Most political campaigns get tired and repetitive. Each day is like the previous day – think Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Candidates need fresh language, issues, and tough rebuttals to the neo-fascist GOP, which doesn’t even bother to camouflage its anti-democratic missions, its takedowns of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other government programs for the people. Republicans boast about long-range plans, which they fakely call “populist,” but they are driven to put the plutocrats and oligarchs in full predatory charge of our federal and state governments.
Above all, Democrats need to give voters from all backgrounds practical motivations to register and get out to vote in record-setting numbers. Setting a voter turnout record is not hard. With predictions of 130 million eligible voters not voting, getting ten million of these Americans voting in the swing states could produce a working Democratic majority in Congress.
Citizen advocates know what it takes to make a more just society for all Americans – all workers, all consumers, all patients and all communities. With no axe to grind, civic leaders have learned how to speak plainly, authentically and persuasively, for they know that is the way to succeed in making life better, safer and fairer. They also can’t stand bullies.
Recently, over two dozen of these leaders placed their specialized knowhow and clear ways of communicating what they know – that reach people where they live, work and raise their families – at the disposal of the Democrats. Some have run referendums and have developed sensible, often unused ways to get people to vote. Others have honed effective language such as “go vote for a raise, you’ve earned it and it is long overdue,” or talk about “investing in public works,” not “spending.” Builders of factories say they are investing, not spending, don’t they?
It’s “climate violence,” not “climate change.” Taxpayers should demand: “We want our tax dollars used to benefit our communities and families, not used for reckless corporate welfare or taken by corporate looters defrauding government programs like Medicare or the Pentagon.”
Civic leaders know how to win debates, how to urge cracking down on corporate crooks, and how to expose waste, fraud and other abuses that rile people up who often feel powerless. Above all, civic leaders are all about empowering you or, better said, “We the People.” Remember, the Constitution placed the basic sovereign power in our Republic and in the hands of the citizenry.
More specifically, if Democrats want the past pathways to a bright future, children’s rights, superior health care, elevated livelihoods for workers and retirees, racial and gender equality, an economy for all of us, neighborhood renewable energy, affordable housing, a redefined national security and engaged voters, they need to start returning calls made to their campaign offices.
Let me repeat, start returning calls by the citizen community from which nearly all the blessings of justice and liberty in our nation’s history have emerged.
Candidates that are kept so busy that they don’t have time to adjust, readjust and re-invigorate their campaigns in the real, not the virtual, world are at a disadvantage. You win by developing your own escalator, not by paying minders to place you on a media treadmill that eats up campaign contributions without energizing voters.