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Stop Backlash Before It Happens

Especially at the state level, as we charge through all the issues, a word of caution on overreach to all the Dems. Now is when we need to counter backlash and steal the opposition base, direct the media, organize our allies as well as the conservatives do and reduce the need for money in future campaigns. Within our party we have won races on progressive resonance, while much of our own party is establishment Dem and while the GOP is not weak. Thus we need to watch out for backlash, even in a good cause. I think this dovetails with what what our new Denver Dem Chair, Melissa Johnson, is building and aligns with Morgan Carroll’s initiatives.

When legislation is essentially party line, take a deep breath, steal their base and widen your own. Much like the Federal Winner-take-all gridlock strategy, undercut backlash by inviting opposition stakeholders to speak. Without winner take all training, they’ll start bargaining and let you know issues that are more or less important. Now your opposition must either be seen to sit there with their arms crossed or dive in and follow their own constituents. You know their base and many of the groups. These are stakeholders, even in opposition. You can double check their donors from Secretary of State donor listings. Party line dominance should be tempered with partnership.

Similarly, we’re building our ally, partner, networks to run movements between elections, not just low cost campaigns that gather volunteers. So continually engage your groups outside the party, and perhaps those stolen bases. Coffman held his seat as his District turned blue by listening and crafting show piece loopholes while generally stabbing the same folk in the back, so listen. Beyond currently active political groups, churches and clubs were once quite politically powerful, so show them that you’re listening and widen your base. Once their hearts are open, their wallets may open too.

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. With Dems in charge, 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.

In parallel we need to organize our allies, inside the party and out. We are building an 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 in and out of the party, at every level, resources and allies, including academic. Facing open Primaries we need to bring all our allies together and with opposition stakeholders. We reestablish that Dems are the party of inclusion, we listen to all and we’ve stolen their base. Backlash means you didn’t listen well, didn’t energize your partners 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.

If your opposition is still hanging together, albeit looking bad, then ‘take it to the people’ and make it a ballot initiative. You have already stolen much of their base and energized your own.

It’s all interwoven through campaigning, legislating and back to campaigning. Avoiding overreach steals their base and perhaps grudging respect. Keep in touch with your even distant allies builds organization that needs less campaign cash. Listen to all, stand ready to compromise and take the largest step you can without backlash. Like the oft quoted line, this is how we keep our friends close and our enemies closer. This is how we build partnership to counter their dominant/submissive culture.

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