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Breaking Winner Take All Gridlock

Especially at the Federal level, to break “winner take all” gridlock we need to steal our opponents base and direct media toward the relevant data and controversies. This means we need to train our people in these tactics, organize our allies as well as the conservatives do and watch out for backlash even in a good cause. A politician’s job is to listen to all, prepare a body of knowledge and mediate without giving up principles. Yet constant fund raising warps legislation, so we need to reduce the need for campaign money. Dems have won races on progressive resonance, while much of the party is establishment and while the GOP is not weak. And you get to balance all this.

Most are aware of the winner take all philosophy that gridlock makes the dominant party look inept. You likely listen to progressives, establishment and conservatives, and try to negotiate. When some go intransigent, steal their base. You know their base and many of the groups. These are stakeholders, even in opposition, and you can ask the intransigents who else you should check with. You can double check politician’s donor listings. Invite all to hearings, set up a forum, call for papers or drop into their meeting. Without winner take all training, they’ll start bargaining. Now your opposition must either be seen to sit there with their arms crossed or dive in and follow their own constituents. So we double down on inclusion and listening to all. Backlash means you didn’t listen well, didn’t energize your allies or took too large a step when you could have given them an easier rate of change, or negotiated more on a related piece. Gain more and perhaps co-oped a base by having listened. (In the current situation you can review the wall’s engineering, environmental and human issues, and better ways to do a shutdown.) You have already stolen much of their base and energized your own.

When our oligopoly media is focused on the salient rather than the relevant, use those hearings, forums and calls for papers to direct and feed the press. This includes the local and online media. (Again wall and shutdown issues. Also what are the media saying on both sides of the border?) With Dems in charge of the House, should we be asking media about their public service shows, and political and campaign coverage? This is a major avenue toward lower cost campaigns and allows reporters to do much of the work.

To do this well, we must strengthen our organization to counter a rather frightful right-wing organization. They have money and we have voters, enough to sometimes out-fund them. They have the cash to train their aides throughout their careers, and we are building inside and outside the party, at every level, resources and allies, including academic. Ask the loudest of your base to help organize material, ask the Party and other allies, empower them and build organization.

That is, we’re building our ally networks to run movements that research between elections, not just low cost campaigns that gather volunteers. While conservatives have money networks we can build up our people and organization networks. So continually engage groups outside the your group or party, and perhaps those stolen bases. Make sure primary candidates are in touch with this ally network and adding to it. Beyond currently active political groups, churches and clubs were once quite politically powerful so show them that you’re listening. (Current wall, human: review hospitality and charity guidelines that every religion and many clubs share.) Once their hearts are open, their wallets may open too. Yet such organization is less dependent on campaign cash.

Steal their base and direct the press. Interweave through campaigning, legislating and back to campaigning. Avoid overreach, and perhaps gain grudging respect. Keep in touch with your even distant allies to build organization that needs less campaign cash. So too we double down on Partnership culture over Dominance/Submission culture.

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