Base-less Strategy



To be clear, I’m talking about the party leadership here and not the candidates themselves, many of whom are doing a good job of articulating a progressive vision. Last week we learned that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had requested a debate devoted to the issue of climate change. The DNC said no, with the bizarre excuse that a president must be able to “multitask” (with a focused debate apparently being an example of not multitasking). To make matters worse, the DNC threatened to punish candidates who did engage in such a debate. According to Inslee, “they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates. This is deeply disappointing.”

I can see the argument that many Americans have been so deluged with BS from right-wing media about the climate crisis that there is some risk of alienating those voters, but I don’t think we’re going to move forward in any meaningful way by kowtowing to disinformation and self-censoring; that’s a short-sighted approach. The DNC’s plan to punish candidates who do participate in a climate debate is just beyond stupid. I thought some of the animus directed at the DNC in 2016 was a bit conspiratorial and overblown, but now they’re practically begging the party faithful to loathe them.

My motivation here is not to create a destructive circular firing squad, but to criticize these bad ideas in the hope that the leadership will improve. It seems some strategists are only capable of perceiving the risk of alienating hypothetical swing voters, but ignore the great risk of alienating the base. You don’t win elections with milquetoast waffling. And if the planet is to survive, we’re going to have to talk about it.

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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