This post was almost called "Make Black History Black Again." Believe it or not, we are only 20 days into this new Administration, and I have reshifted my partial sew-in more times than I care to admit. We have all bore witness to the aggressive slaughtering of our Nation, which barely missed hell thanks to the Williams' sisters, Beyonce's pregnancy, and James Baldwin still speaking to and through us in the must-see cinematic prose "I Am Not Your Negro" (surely February deserves one more calendar day just for that title alone).
After witnessing delusional inauguration photo interpretations, censoring of reporters, discriminatory travel bans, confirmations of underqualified elitists, sightings of deceased abolitionists, the silencing of the late Coretta Scott King via Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and a major threat to healthcare coverage nationwide, I have one message to Democrats: You're not gonna win with common sense alone.
I am in no way suggesting anarchy, but I am suggesting a real reevaluation of strategies and tactics. For starters, it appears that Dems are in a little bit of a numerical quagmire. Republicans control both chambers of Congress, the White House, and now the Departments of Justice and Education, and soon to be the Supreme Court. Not to mention that our State Department is now owned by Exxon, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is actually considered for...anything...and once Trump opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham has uttered "Make America Great Again." Is there no balm in Gilead?
Dems, you're outnumbered but not just because you don't have the votes to pass legislation. But because the Republicans take pacts. And they take those things just as seriously as Atlanta Housewife Cynthia Bailey takes her friend contracts. Remember how serious it was when former Republican presidential candidates were hesitant to say whether they'd back the presumptive nominee? The response was always "it would be a disgrace if so and so didn't back the nominee. We all made a pact!" See, pacts are real sophomoric, like "pinky swears." Except for when they're honored by everyone. Then, these impenetrable bonds have power and are exactly why you Dems stay scratching your head because your once GOP-bestie is now acting like y'all ain't never worked out in the same Congressional gym.
Face it: conservatives individual feelings towards Donald Trump will not overpower their invisible pact to look the other way and push forward their agenda. So, don't waste too much time reasoning with them.
That's not to say that there won't be outliers from time to time. Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) voted against the nomination of now confirmed head of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. But the subsequent Attorney General confirmation of Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions a day later once again proves that Republicans do not care about patterns of injustice, facts, or the will of the people. They have the power to do what they want to do. And they will use it.
Republicans have been perfecting this power stance for almost a decade, taking every opportunity to obstruct the desires of the people of America by obstructing the candidate the people elected, twice--President Barack Obama. They did not succumb to being labeled the "do-nothing" Congress when they were in the majority. They didn't care how many millions our Nation lost when they shut down the government. And they definitely could care less that every night, cable news networks listed their discretions.
They made a pact, remember.
And because they wouldn't let up, we started to normalize this dysfunction and treat it as government. The Tea Party, which was at one time synonymous as crazy, is now spelled GOP. Which left room for the arrival of a problematic, litigation-ladened, never governed, now President Donald Trump. And now, folks are wondering if we really have to wait until 2020 to take action.
The short answer is: we can't wait. And to get a little sanity, we got to get a little crazy first. I do believe you, Dems, when you say that the people will answer in 2018 and 2020. But using old tools on this new journey is not going to get us there. I offer these five starter suggestions:
Resolve now that "political petty" is a viable tactic. Political petty is a step up from traditional petty in that it is reserved for elected officials who have no regard to the feelings of the opposing party, pursuant to an intended outcome. Sen. Ted Cruz is a political petty master, showing that he will hold up a Senate floor all by himself for twenty-one hours, vowing to "speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand." (so poetic, right?) Political pettiness causes sensationalism, which results in huge coverage, and ultimately viewership--especially by everyday people who only tune in to news when an outrageous moment is captured. Political pettiness can be best felt when a critical mass of electeds employ it. One idea is to have every Dem elected start every interview with a statement like "In 3 years, 11 months, 3 days, 12 hours, and 53 seconds the American people are going to fire Trump." Trust me, you do that every day, we'll listen. (This site helps you keep track of the exact amount of time).
Get yourselves a real good messenger (and message). We laughed when Kellyanne Conway used the term "alternative facts" to describe the lies (which are the opposite of "facts") that were spewing out of the Trump Administration. But considering that now "alternative facts" has its own Wikipedia page, I'd say she won that battle. And part of the genius of her presence is that she is not the President. Face time is an extremely important tool for elected Dems, especially in the House of Representatives, where guaranteed tenure is for two years at a time. But Dems should consider employing a face that can resonate your collective strategy, stay on message, and afford to make a couple mistakes. I trust you Dems will leverage your incoming Chair to take this role, but an additional surrogate may not hurt. (And if you combine strategies one and two, you can even hold your own weekly Dem Press Conference to counter all the alternative facts from the past week. See how political petty works?)
Do not over rely on cable news. Get on more non-traditional outlets, and perhaps more importantly do things untraditionally. Pull out your camera phone while walking to the car and let us know your unscripted thoughts about the ongoing attacks on liberties, destruction of freedom, and normalized bigotry from the highest seat in the Nation. Rep. Maxine Waters did one recently right outside elevators in one of the Congressional buildings, proving that almost no spot or time is a bad one. I suggest you don't do it in the shower or you know...with no shirt on. But a slip of a curse word here or there is quite alright. We survived pussygate...so we can handle passionate four letter words from time to time. Which leads me to my next point.
Keep the Rising American Electorate energized and engaged! You may have heard the term the "rising electorate" but who are they are where are they rising from? The rising American electorate (RAE) is the term to describe the rapidly growing group of unmarried women, millennials and non-white voters. Decade-long projections proved to be correct this past election cycle as this group emerged as the majority of voters, at 55 percent. Majority of this demographic supported Hillary Clinton and has probably already been targeted by Trump. What does this mean? Get more Cardi B's as your messengers so they can speak organically to your voters! And do some more in-person events in local venues and hot spots. This ain't your "Meet the Press" crowd.
Some of y'all have to leave Congress. This may be where I lost some consulting coins. But hear me out. There were two things that really stood out to me during the 2010 midterm elections as a staffer in Congress: the age of tea party candidates and the "one-term" messaging. With a more fresh and green appearance, the Tea Partiers came in with more room to make mistakes, especially when so many ran on message of leaving after just one-term. In a nation growing quite resentful of a lack of political options, you Dems must ask yourselves this key question: Are you really as effective as you used to be? Or put another way: Can America win more with new blood in Congress? I suggest the Dems not only embrace this, but also embrace a real pipeline that is less of a stepping down and more of a baton pass. If America were to see a cohort of you guy say "You know what, we love what we do and we will serve in other ways. But we see the value of endorsing the new wave of representatives in 2018," I think we will finally get a little closer to using the greatness within America to finally make her great for us all.
To be clear, Standing Rock is still fighting for their rights, Black lives are still threatened every day, and there's still no clean water in Flint. So this should not be seen as the end-all, but some new balls to juggle in the air. It should be noted that most your top strategists have been wrong as of late. This is just a plea from a regular, "shmegular" citizen to please try something new.