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Friday, September 30, 2011

A response to an email from Joe Biden titled "What are you waiting for?" as a campaign solicitation

Dear Joe-
Thanks for the email.  I have already donated this year and am still awaiting the promised T-shirt that was to arrive as a result of that donation.  Sadly, that wait for the t-shirt is becoming emblematic of my wait for the President. Though I will likely support the President in his re-election campaign, I will be doing it with a great deal less enthusiasm than I did in the first campaign.  What am I waiting for?  Good question, thank you for asking.

Though I know the President has been hampered by Congressional intransigence in recent months, it bears remembering that the Democrats squandered their majority in both houses in the mid-term elections, in no small part because the needed, promised, hopeful leadership was subsumed by careful, pragmatic, passionless, dry-cleaned shirt decision making.  Yes, the American people want a grown up in the White House.  Yes, they want a leader who is intelligent, thoughtful and considerate. But they also want a leader who is going to stand tall, and know when to be loud about the priorities the Party espouses. Yes, compromise is the heart of legislation, but you can't trade a donkey you've already given away, and time and time again, there is no donkey in the stall. Only piles of elephant droppings.

Why not donate? I'll tell you why: I can't think of a young, visible, up-and-coming Democratic leader who is out there inspiring people on behalf of the President.  I see the same, old, tired faces on TV, in the House and in the Senate.  Something is lacking in the Democratic Party when Republican after Republican goes out into the world and blatantly lies, distorts and deceives the American people, and the only response is, once again, Chuck Shumer, or Nancy Pelosi, or poor Debbie Wasserman trotting out the same tired rhetoric, carefully avoiding actually calling their counterparts out for their mis-information and lies. There is a time to be nice, but not so long ago, Senators and Representatives were able to be cutting and incisive about their opponents' failures; these days they need to grow a pair and just speak the truth. Stop being programmed and start being honestly passionate. Look at the crop of candidates running against Scott Brown in my home state.  Elizabeth Warren is a lovely person, but she has 1/10th the charisma of Teddy, and 1/5th the legislative smarts, and none of the passion.  The rest of the crop of candidates are a bunch of also-rans who couldn't get elected to their own town council, but keep trying over and over again. No matter who they are, very rarely will they speak about what they believe for fear of alienating someone.  Of course someone will be alienated!! That's the point.  You can't please them all, all the time, so be truthful to yourself and others will follow! The very definition of leadership is to propose a vision and then convince others to follow it.  The Democratic party needs a farm team system, it needs to re-cast its candidates, and it needs to do this yesterday.

Why not donate? Now the President is on the road, touting a bill he should have pushed, with language he should have used, over a year ago.  There has to be consistency between the way he campaigns and the way he governs, and sadly, I'm not seeing that.  The bully pulpit is the President's only effective means of legislating.  But he needs a whole lot more bully in him, more preacher in the pulpit, more old school, fire in the belly, rabble rousing rhetoric. Not demagoguery, the GOP has a lock on that, but capital T Truth-telling. Paint the stark realities of the choices we face and then lead like you mean it. Get Democratic leadership out in the communities with facts, figures, handouts, charts, graphs, tweets and youtube clips.  Not Goolsby with the white board, not boring ass lectures, not calm, earnest videos with facial close-ups and soft music. Just simple, stark numbers that demonstrate reality.

Want to get people donating Joe? First go kick some ass and take some names.  Announce that Obama will donate 25% of his campaign contributions ($.25 of every dollar) toward paying down the national deficit, and shame the Republican candidates into doing the same.  Donate the Presidential stipend back for a year and shame the Congressional leaders into doing the same with their salaries. (We know you all don't need that money.)  Cancel Congressional pensions/benefits for those members of the House and Senate with an annual income of over $1 million. And shame them into going along with it. Shame, Joe, is the most effective tool in the Presidential Rhetorical arsenal.  Use it!

Want people to donate? Come up with an actual vision for foreign policy, and then stick to it, so the President doesn't seem like a windsock who says the right things, but then doesn't follow up with actions to meet the vision. Promote the great job Secretary Clinton has done.  Remind us of the values America holds dear, dearer than short-term strategic considerations, and craft a plan to help cement American power and authority in the 21st Century. And then stick to your guns come hell or high water!

Then remind people that every time a Republican says "let the states do it" that we had that once.  It was the Articles of Confederation, and it failed miserably!  Ask why their greatest ideas come from the past, while yours come from the future? And for God's sake, stop trying to come up with slogans and soundbites.  "Get the car out of the ditch" and "win the future" were just shamefully cheesy, stupid, laughable efforts.  A soundbite is more effective when it comes out of a natural, passionate talking point.  The media will make it work for you, stop spoon-feeding them. Democrats need to be passionate and memorable, and the media will get the point. It is hard to know what the President believes and what his speech writers think will be memorable.  Cut out the latter!  The most recent address to Congress was a step in the right direction, and so have recent speeches.  More of that is needed. But don't just go to "campaign battle grounds" to give that speech; go to all the states to give that speech.  Let the people in Montana, Wyoming, Delaware, Alabama and West Virginia hear his voice and his message, not just Ohio, California and New Hampshire.

Want more donations? Point out the inescapable conclusion that the Republican leadership in the House is held hostage to extremists, then demonstrate it by submitting a gun control bill that would remove the weapons like the one that shot Representative Giffords and shove it down the Republican's faces when they vote against it, as you know they will. Submit the free trade agreements, and publicize it when the Republicans won't bring it up for a vote. Remind the American people that there is a social agenda that comes along with each and every Republican candidate for president that includes restricting a woman's right to choose, imposing a religious view on education, and that rolls back civil rights for gay people.  Bring these issues to the forefront.  Yes, the economy is bad, yes, we need to talk about it, but it isn't that complicated a formula to fix it: 1.2 trillion goes to support those in this country who can't support themselves.  That is a worthy cause, and an American cause and tax dollars are needed to make it work. We get that! Sure it needs reform, so reform it in simple, clear language. Then bring out the grandparents of Republican members of Congress who are on Medicare and Medicade and Social Security and show them what the Tea Party agenda does to their lives.  And if they don't have grandparents who draw those benefits because they are all rich, then point that out too!  Call Congress into special session and don't let them leave until the economy improves.  Get off the diesel bus and onto a train.  Revive the whistlestop tour on a green energy locomotive to show that you would actually use the transportation method in your green energy plan and talk to small town Americans about their lives.

Joe, when you and the President are out and about raising money from donors, you also need to be going to high schools.  Not ones that have this that or the other fancy program, but just regular high schools, and meet with members of the graduating senior class.  They are your future base. They can all vote if motivated to do so, so motivate them!  They go home and tell their parents that they met you, and the parents will be impressed you cared about their children. Tell every elected Democratic official that they all need to get into every nursing home, every senior center, every YMCA, every construction site and town common in their district, shake hands, and just talk to people. Don't make it an event, don't call the media, don't grandstand, just keep it simple, direct and personal.  Remind people that Democrats are the party of the people, for the people and by the people, and Republicans are the party of the corporation, the suit, and the country club.

It's not hard Joe.  Give the donkey back his balls, and then go out and kick.  Then I'll start to believe, hope, feel optimistic, and donate.  Because right now you have my vote, but not much more.

Best,

Whit's End
MA

1 comment:

  1. Whitten for President! Whitten for PResident! Whitten for Presidential advisor!! Run, Todd, Run!

    I sincerely hope you send this to Joe and Barack - they need to hear from you! And then get out there and start the Occupy Natick movement in tents on the Common . . .

    ReplyDelete