There’s a long way to go until November but Democrats seem to be preparing to fight the wrong battle. Over the past few weeks, much of their rhetoric has focused on the Koch Brothers and their financing of misleading ads. Instead, Democrats should be focusing on Republicans and everything that they’ve got wrong.
The emphasis on the Kochs is a reactionary posture based on the premise of trying to discredit their massively funded disinformation campaign. If they can kill the credibility of the messenger, then they can cast doubt upon the message, or so the theory goes. But it’s flawed for numerous reasons.
First, the voters who determine elections don’t really know who the Koch Brothers are. And even if they do, they don’t know why they are bad. So before Democrats can effectively discredit the Kochs, they need to spend massively to educate the electorate about who they are and why they are bad.
Which leads to the second point. If Democrats are getting massively outspent, they need to carefully target their resources. The money would be much better spent educating voters about why a particular candidate is bad or why a particular Democrat is good. Voters are going to vote for candidates, not interest groups.
In the minds of swing voters, all these groups are the same. They aren’t going to buy the argument that the Kochs are buying elections because they already believe that most candidates are indebted to special interests. It’s an “Everybody does it” mentality.
Finally, it’s an inherently defensive posture when Democrats need to be playing offense. It’s like they learned nothing from 2010. It’s difficult to get re-elected, regardless of party, when the general electorate is dissatisfied with the direction of the country. It’s impossible if the candidates don’t make a case for themselves.
I’m not a huge Bob Shrum fan, but he’s got it right this time. Democrats need to run on the attributes of Obamacare and slam the Republicans for trying to return to the days of pre-existing conditions and the caps on medical coverage that left families bankrupt. But they need to go further. These are the same Republicans who led us to an unnecessary war in Iraq and sound like they would now put us into Syria or Crimea. They would turn Medicare into a voucher system and make cuts to Social Security. They threw a toddler-like temper tantrum and shut down government, costing jobs and money. Are these the people you want running our government?
Democrats need to quit running against the Kochs and running away from their accomplishments. They’ve got a record. It’s a good one. Run on it.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >