I suppose most of the postmortems on the 2014 general election are done by now and the pundits have all proclaimed the reasons why Democrats got their asses handed to them. Democrats ran away from Obama. Democrats didn’t embrace the successes of the ACA, as well as other successes of the current administration. Democrats didn’t define the issues – the GOP defined the issues. The Democrats were always responding on the defensive – never on the offense. While I agree with all of those observations I have my own theory on the root cause of the Horrible Democratic Ass Whipping of 2014. Democrats didn’t work hard enough to generate outrage. Not that there was no material to work with – we just flat out didn’t do anything with the material we had.
The GOP won on a campaign of outrage aimed at all the horrible things that Democrats (read: “Obama”) implemented over the last 2 years. Think about any FOX news report – just before they cut away to a commercial, the perfectly coiffed blonde woman in the red sleeveless dress, sitting on a couch, flanked by the lacquered red-tie-wearing guys, tells us: “Next up is a story about zucchini, and you’ll be completely outraged when you learn just what zucchini has been up to with your tax dollars.”
Democrats love facts and we don’t want to simply appeal to people’s emotions to win an argument. We want to win on the merits of the facts presented. (Deep down I think we want to be Vulcans.) Democrats want people to not only agree that something is right and just, we also want people to understand WHY we think something is right and just. So we break out the facts and statistics that support our view and typically succeed only in boring people to death. Never mind that the person we’re trying to convince tunes out within fifteen seconds of the commencement of our well formulated argument. We Democrats desperately want to believe that the only thing that matters is that WE HAVE FACTS AND THE GOP MAKES SHIT UP.
I believe that the ingredient we Democrats have totally missed is outrage. Forget facts – because nobody will remember statistics and percentages in the voting booth. They will, however, remember how the circumstances illustrated by statistics or facts made them feel. So Democrats need to let go of being professorial. We need to master the catch phrase and the bullet point – and then we need to wrap them in outrage with a hashtag on top.