"The GOP is about dread, anxiety, and fear.... [It is] messianic and driven."--Ralph Nader
There are few things more dreaded by elections experts than close elections, and these are expected as votes are cast for the 2022 midterm elections"four Senate seats and 28 House seats are rated by Politico as toss-ups. Alan Minsky of PDA specified that swing districts that will decide the election encompass 50-70 House seats in nine states. Poll findings deliver mixed predictions. Politico expects that voters will choose more Democratic than Republican governors, however.
On September 18, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) hosted a forum featuring the renowned outspoken environmentalist and progressive Ralph Nader along with his long-time ally Mark Green, a progressive activist attorney who was New York City's first Public Advocate from 1993 to 2001.
Moderated by PDA leaders Mike Fox and Alan Minsky, the forum's focus was optimistic. In the fifty days remaining before Election Day 2022, plenty can be done to win Democratic victories across the board. Nader and Green based their presentations on their new webpage https://winningamerica.net, unprecedented outreach endorsed by Sen. Ed Markey and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Jim McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Carolyn Maloney, John Larson and Peter DeFazio, among others. The featured report/volume, Crushing the GOP, 2022, aims "to counter the early conventional wisdom that there was no way to stop a red wave in the 2022 due to inflation and the midterms jinx for the presidential party." The Democratic candidates must be made aware of ways to surge ahead in the coming election. Articles written by 24 leading experts focus on the economy, health care, crime and corruption, national security, and children, "Trump vs. Democracy," "War of the Words," race, class, and democracy, winning language on climate violence, and GOTV.
Every election looks like the most important in history when it occurs but, said Green, the upcoming midterm is the most important offyear election since 1862 [and of course 1860] in that it could "overturn the collective values and assumptions of our constitutional democracy." For this reason, he and Nader, outspoken progressives, have turned to the more mainstream Democratic Party to uphold these principles. They also stress the many goals that most Americans share, regardless of party affiliation.
Inflation is highest since the Carter years, due to disruptions in the vital supply chain, the pandemic, Putin's war, and corporate market power. One problem is that a substantial percentage of the public, "five-minute voters," are unaware of the issues involved for many reasons ("vote with their gut, not their head"). Fully 120 million qualified voters haven't even registered. The GOP has been skilled in recruiting some of their own among this category back to the polls or even to the polls for the first time.
The Republicans are masterful at extremely catchy slogans--loaded words and phrases like "woke," "critical race theory," and "cancel," all of which Green dismissed as empty and without substance, but "a winning phrase can break through" and has led to stunning successes. "Their goal is to demonize Democrats and immigrants and make sure voters think about their enemies rather than their families." Democrats need to catch up with such effective outreach.
There is much that the people on both sides agree about, believe it or not in these troubled times, including safety for our children in cars and elsewhere, raising the minimum wage, cracking down on corporate crime, and "government-guaranteed socialism," which includes of course social security and medicare, as opposed to corporate socialism, Nader later added. "We all bleed the same color." There's far more uniting people than dividing them. The appeal is universal.
Our public is scandal fatigued, said Green; violence is now a weapon of the far right ("dangerous extremists") far more than the left--only one side tried to overthrow our government on January 6, 2021.
"We can capture the people who want to be mainstream rather than extreme." Democrats must win over 5 to 10 percent of "soft" Republicans or 5 to 10 percent of Independents to add to Biden's seven million-vote margin and victory in the House.
The biggest problem now is civic groups' exclusion from campaigns, with candidates too involved in politics and with the media, said Nader, next to present. Democratic ads and campaigns are "dull and repetitive," and "campaigns are tired." They turn people off and actually boomerang. Nader suggested that PDA break through into campaigns and not just be an adjunct. It's so hard to get through--"you can because you're half inside and half outside." With the Winning America guidelines, they can get through to all the communities and "arouse, energize, and connect" with the voters.
"Why haven't the Democrats landslided?!" "We have by far the best policies and the worst GOP in history." We're proposing new ways and old ways of getting through to more voters. "The Republicans run on vague values because they can't run on their record."
A list of "Twelve Kentucky Values" favored by a majority in that state was found to be unaddressed by Mitch McConnell. Moreover, midnight-shift workers feel excluded. They must be reached. You have a midnight campaign to celebrate their indispensable contributions to society: firefighters, EMTs, retail workers. This sort of activism appeals to the press. Other outreach must extend to low-turnout Democratic districts, who can be offered free food at the polls once they have voted. Two-sided, inexpensive cards distributed to voters can contrast the two major parties' positions on bread and butter issues. They must be very accurate and reach a large number of voters. The people persuade themselves, unlike the "five-minute voters" ("He's a nice guy"; "I like the way he talks about the flag"). The positive blue values contrasted with the negative GOP ones paint the GOP as a party of "dread, anxiety, and fear." The people must understand this--"they are ignored on inscrutable billing, turned down on health care; it's a nightmare constantly."
You must publicize the voting records in Congress. Senator Rick Scott's (R-FL, head of the reelection committee for the Republican senators) Rescue America program is so radical that Mitch McConnell was horrified and shuns any association with it. One part of it "sunsets all federal legislation for five years, including social security, medicare, OSHA, consumer protection, FDA," on and on. "But don't worry. Congress can just re-extend them." The press must reify this, must be very specific.
Said Nader, language is of great importance in Crushing the GOP. Never say "white collar crime"; say "corporate crime." The GOP prefers "corporate power" over "workers," "taxpayers," "consumers," "patients," and "big agribusiness" against the farmers.
One thing that actually resonates is that taxpayer money goes toward sports arenas the people build and the corporations cash in on. Naming rights are sold to other corporations rather than granted to the people. Taxpayer money should instead go toward playgrounds and recreation facilities in neighborhoods.
"Start asking opinions. Have worker gatherings. Have them tell you what their work life is like, what their economic deprivation is like. They're desperate to have a voice" and not just shake hands--both liberal and conservative workers. We must reach the Reagan Democrats who shifted to voting Republican. Give workers lawn signs and buttons--the Republicans are way ahead of us here. These are symbols.
People are still saying that they don't know what the Democratic Party stands for, and they are leaning liberals. Rural voters must be reached. Art Cullen, a rural newspaper man from Stormlake, Iowa, has written about why rural voters are turned off by Democrats and how to get them back.
These things can be done fast, in the next 50 days. Republicans phoned leaning Republicans unlikely to vote and gained large numbers of votes.
Why does the right wing have more energy than Democrats? They're messianic, driven. They tell their leaders what to do. They got rid of Boehner. You must up the energy level of potential Democratic voters.
In Winning America, there's a focus on beating back the phony charges from the GOP: critical race theory, defunding the police, the crime thing, they don't like community policing. They control the initiative and put the Democrats on the defensive. They're soft on corporate crime. "Grab the offensive immediately!" There is focus on a too few issues. Stacey Abrams is focused on abortion rather than expanding more broadly into freedom for women. "If you have 12 arrows in your quiver you don't use just three of them.... She needs to broaden her progressive economic agenda."
"The Republicans are anti-children in so many ways": They repealed the regulation of pesticide that was extremely toxic to children. It was about to be controlled. They're against daycare, paid family leave, all the Western country social safety nets. They've abducted the children into the internet gulag with all kinds of violence and violent games. They're pumping all kinds of fat, salt, and sugar to increase obesity epidemics and youthful diabetes and high blood pressure. "The Democrats are too piecemeal." There should be an umbrella focus on protecting our children, who are our future, our posterity. Talking about left-right issues. Parents are losing control over their children because of the internet, separating them from their families, nature. My sister's book You Are Your Own Best Children addresses children nine to twelve. A huge issue. That's where you want to hit. Both sides want the same things for their families: decent public transit, highways, bridges repaired, public schools that aren't broken down. All the money is going to empires abroad. Bring it back home. Our taxes should be used for us, not for corporate welfare, bailouts, handouts....
Nader called pollution "deadly violence." The environmental justice movement describing this must become more muscular. The worst pollution occurs where poor people live. Fully half of the population is poor or extremely poor, he said. Then there are people who are barely making it. You must connect these issues. They affect all the people.
"Democrats are at an advantage.... They must move fast with their eyes, ears, hearts, and minds." In the swing states particularly. "We are fighting for our lives."