Democrats can save Democracy

How Democrats Can Save Democracy

"...those who support democracy are not as prepared or as focused as those who seek to subvert it. But, I hope I am wrong. Now is the time to act." Marc Elias

The Republicans have openly given up on democracy. There’s no denying that they have chosen the path to authoritarianism – siding with billionaires, right-wing radicals, and Christian extremists.

Saving America will be difficult as we’ll have to deal with gerrymandering, the Electoral College, gutted voting rights laws, a corrupted Congress, and a bought SCOTUS. Worst of all, because of conservative disinformation, fearmongering,  and resentment peddling, combined with incompetent and often hostile news outlets, a significant number of Americans couldn’t be happier that all of this is going on.

With so many components of our democracy being captured or weakened by authoritarian forces, Democrats will need to significantly outperform the Republicans at the polls. Just as important, they’ll need to bring Americans back to their senses. Here are some ways to win elections and win hearts and minds.

Understand what you’re up against

It was a 50-year crawl, but Conservatives have replaced policy with disinformation, fear-mongering, and scapegoating. They now control their base through an abusive relationship driven by existential threats and anxiety and secured by a faux safe haven. If Democrats expect to unravel the cult-like behavior on the right, they need to understand just how dangerous these emotions are and how deep they go.

Realize that many people don’t “get it”. 

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Benard Shaw

Democrats simply don’t communicate enough – they need to realize that many of us aren’t engaged enough to understand what is going on in the world of politics. Further, since over half of us between the ages of 16 and 74 (54%) read below a sixth-grade level, the Democrats need to make their messaging more digestible. 

The bottom line is that Democrats need to understand who they are talking to, drop the innuendo and obscure references, and get to the point. Explain, but explain simply, with emotion, and without a spreadsheet. Facts and policies don’t have to be boring (or lectured). Nobody likes boring – especially MSM executives.

Seize the conversation

Mainstream media isn’t interested in helping Democrats or democracy – they are only interested in viewership and stoking our political battles to maintain that viewership.  

If MSM wants a battle between Right and Left then the Democrats should flip the script and give it to them. They need to continuously attack Republicans and take control of the narrative. 

Remember when Democrats, led by comedian Jon Stewart, were relentless in shaming the Right for voting against the PACT Act for Veterans (along with their idiotic fist bump)? The Republicans caved. That thing that Mr. Stewart did…do that again, Democrats.

Get back out there

It’s not clear why Democrats campaign less in rural America. Relying on city and suburban voters was a dangerous game of chicken that we lost. It also gave conservatives additional ammo for their “only the right cares about America” rhetoric. The Democrats left a void and it was, as always, filled with evil.

Go back to rural America – they need you. Give folks choices and new narratives to hear. Discuss new opportunities that are specific to their communities. Align this with recent policies that helped the working class. Generate a vision for a better future. This can lessen anxiety, increase their capacity for reason, and hopefully pull some back to the table. 

States are shifting to authoritarianism because Democrats aren’t running there. Unopposed candidates aren’t trying to find middle ground – they don’t have to. They can win with one vote and do whatever they want. Favoritism and corruption matter more than the people when politicians aren’t held accountable at the polls.

Dems need to run, run everywhere, and run now. Mayors, judges, town councils, school committees, etc. are the front lines of democracy. This is where the fight is.

Forget what the consultants say – democracy won’t be saved by swing states. Pour candidates, organizers, and money into the entire country. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Attack and humiliate the Republicans

Continuously show that Republicans have kept the playing field tilted in the favor of the wealthy. There are countless examples of how corporate America and conservative policies have exploited our wallets, our health, and our planet – use them. Make the con of trickle-down economics a kitchen table topic. 

Republicans rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy and now they’re doing the same thing to elections (again, for the wealthy). Once some of us lose voting power, everyone eventually will. If folks think the system is rigged now… just wait. 

Show folks that what Republicans are doing is not about “black vs. white”, but “rich vs. poor”. Ask them when was the last time a billionaire did something for them. 

Meanwhile, wrap the Democrats’ policies and ideals in patriotism and show voters that the Democrats are willing to take on corporate America and a corrupt Supreme Court (even in public hearings).

Don’t Let Voters take our Democracy for Granted

Mainstream media never points out the countless good things that our government and government employees do for us every day. Their desire to maximize viewership (via calamity and scandal) makes them as anti-government as Donald Trump.

Find opportunities to remind folks of the many services and protections that our government provides. The list is long, but it will all go away when the authoritarian-leaning Republicans gut our government.

Engage and show the path out

Many on the Right are beyond reach, but we need to give others an exit ramp. Don’t push them further away with continued insults – give them an out for the position they have been tricked into.  MAGA was duped – show them what the GOP did to them and our country. Welcome them back.

It’s ok for Democrats to stoke fear and anger to motivate voters, especially because there really is plenty to be very fearful and angry about. Don’t make anything up – there’s no need to.

Focus less on sweeping and formative changes – that can be intimidating. Pushing too hard on an inclusive society will make some feel excluded.

Remind of us our common goals and needs – things we should pursue together. Tradition and nostalgia make people feel safe. Remind folks that the good old days were before Republicans handed our government over to corporate America.

Exploit the Republicans’ exploitations

We all saw how the Republicans dealt with the pandemic. They exploited it to further divide us and create a greater distrust of our government. They attacked medical professionals, pushed conspiracy theories, and even incited violence while thousands were dying daily.

Many red states and rural areas have been hit hard by extreme weather or droughts in recent years and there are plenty of local climate-related disasters for all people to commiserate about and hopefully vote to fix. Climate Change is not getting the steady drumbeat from Democrats and mainstream media – fix that.

Democrats already have Mother Nature taking care of the grassroots efforts on this…they need to do their share. They need to remind folks of just how bad the pandemic was, how bad Earth will become, and that it was the Republican’s fault.

Repeat all the above

The conservative media machine repeats its dishonest themes over and over again until they stick. To complement the rhetoric, conservative think tanks and political organizations pour money into disingenuous, on-the-ground astroturfing and social engineering activities.  

The Democrats need to find and create mechanisms to drive their message home.

Above all, start now – conservatives drive their narrative into our psyche all day every day. Swooping in during election season will not unwind decades of non-stop anxiety-inducing rhetoric from the Right. 

What not to do

Because conservatives entirely own the narrative, Democrats need to choose their words more carefully. Things like “deplorables”, “defund the police”, “take down the NRA”, “put coal miners out of business”, etc. are quickly turned into talking points for the Right.  Worse, when folks have been convinced that they are in a fight for their future, these are existential threats – things they will kill and die over. Choose words carefully.

Lecturing and the use of condescending tones are just as bad. If the Democrats plan on winning people over, they first need to know how not unintentionally push more of them away.


Psychology drives everything we do and politics is no exception – in fact, it’s the shining example. Too many of us have been manipulated into throwing democracy away on behalf of their provocateurs and now is the time to start unwinding this mess before it gets further out of control.

Each election will be more critical, more contentious, and more dangerous. Many elections are won by only a handful of votes. Meanwhile, conservatives continue to take every opportunity to disenfranchise voters and rig elections. Because of this, every vote counts and Democrats need to work for every one of them. 

Conservatives aren’t going to change.

Conservative media isn’t going to change.

Mainstream media isn’t going to change.

So Democrats must change…now