As the midterms get closer, the punditry gets more predictable. For the past several weeks, not a day has gone by without at least one column–usually more– bemoaning the Democratic Party’s lack of effective messaging.

To which I say bull-feathers.

The problem with “messaging” isn’t that candidates aren’t choosing to emphasize arguments likely to move voters; the problem is the civic ignorance of those voters and the siloed information environments they inhabit.

Take inflation. Republicans are convinced that an emphasis on inflation is a winner for the GOP, and they may well be right. If they are, it will be because the average voter has absolutely no understanding of economics–and is totally unaware that inflation is currently a global phenomenon (much worse elsewhere, actually) with multiple causes.

Progressives have been pointing to several of those causes–“messaging” about the effect of the war in Ukraine, the Saudi’s outrageous decision to cut production so as to raise gas prices (a transparent effort to help Putin by helping Trump’s MAGA base), the persistence of pandemic supply chain problems, and a healthy dose of corporate greed.

That last item has led to calls by some economists for a one-time windfall profits tax–but again, how many American voters understand how price gouging  occurs, or what a windfall tax is or does?

American voters have historically blamed the President–no matter who is in office and no matter what his party–for economic conditions a President cannot and does not control. Those voters have historically gone to the polls in midterm elections and ousted members of the President’s party–despite the fact that the opposing party is generally offering zero credible policies to address the economic problem of the moment.

Right now, the GOP’s proposal to “fix” inflation is to cut spending on Social Security and Medicare, and  stop supplying arms and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. How many voters know that, or are aware of the various statements to that effect made by Republican members of the House and Senate?

For that matter, how many voters understand how the filibuster works, and how its deployment by the GOP has doomed popular legislation?

Until the most recent session of the U.S. Supreme Court, few voters understood the connection between the politics of the Senate majority and the placement of qualified jurists on that Court. (Most still don’t understand how we got the current, highly politicized and retrograde Court majority.)

A number of the pundits decrying the inadequacy of Democratic messaging are convinced that the upcoming election is about saving American democracy–a point with which I agree–and that effective messaging should focus on that threat. They never seem to explain just how they would address the loss of American democracy in those 30-second TV ads or glossy mailed flyers.

If American voters understood how our government is supposed to work–if they all knew, for example, that we have three branches of government (a fact that was evidently a revelation to Tommy Tuberville, elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama presumably because he was a good athlete), and how those branches are supposed to operate, perhaps it would be possible to make the case in a way that would resonate with those voters. Without that public understanding, Democrats (and disaffected Republicans like Liz Cheney) are reduced to making the accusation–and an accusation is not an explanation.

For that matter, even excellent messaging must be heard to be effective.

If American voters all tuned in to the same media outlets, it might be possible to educate them about these matters, but of course, they don’t. Democratic messaging–no matter how brilliant–isn’t likely to reach the legions of voters glued to Fox News and its clones.

What do American voters know?

Most know that an illegitimate Supreme Court has–for the first time in American history–withdrawn a constitutional right. Most know that the right to reproductive autonomy is critical to women’s health and equality, and a significant number know that Republicans are very likely to continue to chip away at other rights previously protected by the constitutional right to privacy.

Some portion of the electorate knows that the President doesn’t control gas prices,  and that Republicans will continue their assault on the social safety net.  Growing numbers recognize that the MAGA movement is dangerous; they may not be able to define fascism but–like pornography– they know it when they see it.

Will what American voters do know be enough to upend the history of midterm elections–a history that favors the party not currently in control of the White House? Will what they do understand motivate sufficient numbers to turn out to VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO?

I guess we’ll find out.


  1. Personally all I see is a goose stepping horde of ignorant fools leading the US off a cliff, blaming it on the “liberals” and destroying US democracy. This combat vet is absolutely fed up with US politics & government as neither is functioning.

    BTW, I’ve had micro & macro economics and have at least a working understanding of both. I wish every American had these and several other courses before they leave high school instead of how to cheer during a worthless game on Friday nights.

  2. Two good pep speeches above from Sheila and Stan, but they won’t help the masses. Look at our motherland, the queen of imperial colonialism. Their media is atrocious, just like ours. That is the channel of communication. It’s not free and open; it’s oppressive from the top down.

    The role of the media is to sell products and services to the masses – not educate. Infotainment.

    Even our education channels aren’t about informing. If they were, we wouldn’t be lacking in many areas while we still believe in American exceptionalism.

    The painful part is the nationalistic movement we are heading down is 100% based on our “feelings of superiority,” but those “feelings” don’t match reality. It’s called cognitive dissonance.

    The masses have been duped by so many institutions far and wide that it will take decades to right the ship, but we don’t have decades.

    Take a good look at England, the motherland. Have our colonies progressed past the United Kingdom?

  3. Anyone old enough to remember the 1954 release of Disney’s The Vanishing Prairie? Republican conservatives created the local Censure Board and one of their first edicts was to censure the birth of a Buffalo featured in this film. The Paramount Theater announced the uncut version will be shown over the weekend. The lines went around the block at box office to a full house to see the movie. When Gone With the Wind was released, again the Censure Board ordered the famous line: “Frankly, I don’t give a damn” … be cut. Paramount Theater played it anyway. That line drew a resounding applause.

    Messaging sometimes defies what you wish for. Unless the message is aligned with public sentiment, the outcome is totally opposite what you wish to influence or control.

  4. I finally agree with Stan, but to expand on his point: Our children don’t get the kind of social studies education needed to understand economics and the political systems when they are taught by football coaches who teach by showing videos while organizing the pep rally.

    Our over-indulgence with sports and winning games while giving short-shrift to the academics needed to survive as a democratic republic is getting to the point where we are on the edge of societal collapse. I wonder what all those tattoos will say when that happens. ME-ism is NOT going to make us a better place, it’s going to be our demise. Well done, capitalist purists.

  5. the human mind wasnt designed to take in all that we can muster in a few minutes. as far as the windfalls profits tax, i seen one passed in calif during the gulf embargo in 1980. it worked,gas stations who wete outliers of the metro areas has gas twice what the metro area had. i dropped immediatly when that profit was taxed. Sen Sanders has a windfalls profits bill ready,but Shumer hasnt allowed its day of light. Sen Warren and progressives want this to at least make a stand. get the numbers,and tell America whos against the corp greed and whos passing legislation to enhance corp greed. but midterms around the corner, i feel its too late to bring it up. the need to explain the plan and get the floor vote is past due. If Biden wins this half of his elected capacity, it will probabaly again be in narrow margins,ineffective. as far as the fillibuster,watch what ya wish for,it could hammer the rest of democracy to the grave if the thugs of congress win. unless we get rid of the electorial college, it would only kill us. as far as the blue collars i talk with,here in NoDak, they never heard of, or know what a windfalls profits tax is. Gov Newsom wants to pass one on the oil companies,and direct its tax directly back to the consumer. discussing this item got me mouths hanging open and WTF?. but at least they know it exists,and Sen Bernie wrote it. also, theres a story where Sen Sanders used the CBO to rattle out numbers on who has what in America,yea, sad to say,the total wealth of the botton half of the population equals only 2% of the nations wealth.
    WTF? time for a French like /American revolution eh?

  6. Last night I watched the partial release of Jonathan Capehart’s interview with President Biden on Joy Reid’s “Reid Out”. Watch the full interview Sunday morning at 10:00 on MSNBC. You will find answers to some questions in the interview and truths spoken intelligently without profanity and distortions or lies with much yelling and arm-waving. I wonder if part of the problem with Democrats isn’t that they have not adjusted to the return of intelligent speakers directly stating facts about current conditions and the progress of Biden’s administration against all odds. He is still working to overcome Trump’s demolition derby he turned our government into. He spoke of the fear we are living with, preferring the term “concern”, and to take what action we can to save democracy.

    Trump and his White Nationalist “Mega MAGA” (Biden’s term) party are still strong due to the volume of their threats and raising their fear tactics to drive hundreds of political workers out of their jobs. It is time for us to chose whose “Messaging” we want to listen to and make our decisions on; the government cannot force us to think before we vote. And ain’t that a shame; but we can’t legislate intelligence into existence or legislate stupidity out of existence.


  7. Stan:
    what is the end game? ask the question, the republicans only support money,and wall street.
    who will authoritarianize America then?

  8. Well, I’ve talked myself blue in the face, trying to bring reason to spaces where there is no regard for it. Now I’m praying that we don’t lose what precious little democracy we have.

  9. Sadly, one of the aspects of messaging, known all too well by Hitler, and DT, is BE LOUD AND BE EVER PRESENT!
    Repeating DT’s big lie has worked marvelously well, again, sadly.
    I am sure that there is massive ignorance of economics and how the gov’t actually works, out there, but it does seem that
    SCOTUS has provided a clear, and emotionally resounding message that may bring huge numbers to the polls and shut
    the pundits up.
    I’m trying to be a bit optimistic.

  10. On Dec, 2015 I wrote “Liars can crank out lies much faster than any one person can refute them. Perhaps it takes a society to defeat a demagogue but that society needs leadership. From where will that leadership come?”
    Shortly after Trump was defeated in 2020, I responded to my question thus.
    “So where did the leadership come from that led to his defeat? There were too many leaders to acknowledge them all. Journalists, educators, historians, military leaders, clergy, government employees, blue collar workers, jurists, students, and many more provided from their ranks individuals who stood up and spoke out in defense of truth, the rule of law and civil decency. Thousands upon thousands of Americans marched, wrote letters organized voters and did whatever they could to protect our democracy. And, most important, they conducted a free and fair election and, in their millions, they voted to defeat the demagogue.”
    Yes, the danger is real, but don’t discount the American citizenry.

  11. Wonder if DEM should be spelled DUM. All they talk about is abortion – about #5 or lower for almost all groups, especially independents/unaffiliated who could/will make the difference. They act like inflation is Putin’s fault when we know the 2017 tax bill and GOP corporate donors (especially BigFuels) are much of the reason.

    They sound like lib elites…

  12. Front page headline of NY Times a few days ago on a new national poll: “Most voters say democracy is under threat”. Immediate sub-heading: “Most see no urgency”. ‘Nough said…

  13. Democrat messaging is, here are things that I can control if elected that I understand are troublesome to my constituency that I promise to work hard to change.

    Republican messaging is, here is everything troublesome to my constituency, some of which actually is true, and Democrats caused it.

  14. I’ve noticed affordable housing seems to be a problem in areas governed by Democrats. There is absolutely no mention of a strategy to remedy this among the platform. To vote blue no matter who is a fundamentalist dogmatic dictum for those willing to submit to suburban conformity–because that’s exactly what it is– conform or be cast out,just like highschool. Puerile messaging.

    Who needs affordable housing? Abortion! Putin! Abortion! Trump! Putin!

    The Democrats have earned themselves a slap back into reality. Still stuck in 2016? That was more than half a decade ago. Elite or just ensconced away from the realities of current American-life? Either way,the result is the same.

    Affordable housing? The Democratic Party response: What me worry?

    Higher costs of living expenses? The Democratic Party Response: What me worry?

    Bring up some real and tangible concerns of the populace and the Democrats go silent.

    That’s the message.

  15. “I’ve noticed affordable housing seems to be a problem in areas governed by Democrats”. ???? WTF??? And the rest of that screed is just as ridiculous.

  16. For Max. From the NYT. Read it and weep.

    Jenny Schuetz is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the new book “Fixer Upper: How to Repair America’s Broken Housing Systems,” which is perhaps the best, clearest overview of America’s housing problems to date. We discuss why the states with the highest homelessness rates are all governed by Democrats, the roots of America’s homelessness crisis.

  17. No brainer – DUH! – affordable housing most critical in largest metros. Largest metros are almost all run by DEMs – “correlation doesn’t prove….nuttin’

  18. “This week, a New York Times/Siena poll found that likely voters listed government corruption most frequently when asked about the current threat to American democracy…the poll respondents mentioned government corruption more often than election denial or the Electoral College.

    If you dig deeper into the poll results, likely voters’ concerns about government corruption become clear. The poll found that 68 percent of likely voters believe the government “mainly works to benefit powerful elites,” as opposed to “ordinary people.”

    DEMS don’t talk about that at all. Wonder why? Hmmmmmm

  19. What Lester said; do you think there was no homelessness when those states were Repub-governed??? Doesn’t matter who’s in power. Enlighten yourself.

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