Opinion | How Democrats Should Sell Themselves to Avoid Electoral Disaster

Opinion | How Democrats Should Sell Themselves to Avoid Electoral Disaster

To the Editor:

Re “Can Democrats Find a Winning Message?” (column, Sunday Review, Oct. 10):

Ezra Klein’s discussion of David Shor’s predictions about impending disaster for the Democratic Party in upcoming Senate elections was both fascinating and frustratingly incomplete.

For one, he did not discuss the specific seats in play and in jeopardy in 2022 and 2024. Surely local issues and the attractiveness of individual candidates will play some role in the outcome.

Second, if a decent part of the Biden agenda finally becomes law and if the pandemic wanes, isn’t there a reasonable prospect that a significant piece of the electorate will want to keep it going? We keep hearing how popular infrastructure renewal and long-overdue safety net improvements are.

Perhaps the ingrained disadvantages that Democrats face in the electoral system can be overcome by people feeling better about their lives. Messaging may well be less of a factor than Mr. Shor fears.

Larry Simonberg
The writer was a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch of New York from 1983 to 1989.

To the Editor:

I’ll tell you why David Shor is wrong, like many of the consultants I’ve encountered who often have a brand rather than a unique skill: 1) Focus groups and polling aren’t real life. 2) Human beings are irrational actors and their motivations shift unpredictably. 3) Most voters don’t vote for issues; they vote for candidates who appear powerful, in charge and decisive.

Donald Trump explains all of these things. Most of the issues he spotlights are unpopular in polling and focus groups, yet he got more than 70 million votes in 2020 and is quite likely going to win in 2024. Democrats need passionate, vital candidates, not reactive data jockeys.

David Billotti
Rockville, Md.
The writer is a communications consultant.

To the Editor:

The Trump base is not reclaimable by Democrats. Donald Trump exposed the undercurrent of anger, fear and racism lurking in our country and made expressing those feelings acceptable within the Republican Party. Worse, he prodded that base to vote. And there is every reason to believe that will happen again.

Opinion Debate
Will the Democrats face a midterm wipeout?

The Democratic Party’s only hope is to appeal to moderate, traditional and rational Republicans who have already abandoned Mr. Trump and his minions. Policy communication alone doesn’t hold the power that David Shor thinks it does. Accomplishment is what is needed.

The Democrats need to coalesce behind President Biden’s agenda, abandon the extreme progressive wish list, and pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislative initiatives. Then, and only then, will they have a product the American people are ready, maybe even eager, to buy.

Jay Adolf
New York

To the Editor:

As a 45-year marketing and communications professional, I think the messaging of the Democrats for the last 10 years has been feeble and chaotic. There has been no consistent, simple messaging from the Democratic National Committee. In contrast, the Republicans have had the discipline to do exactly that, albeit poisoned with lies.

You want a winning message to combat the Big Lie about the stolen election? Start a campaign with a catchy slogan like “Trump has done zilch for you,” and hammer that message home over and over again.

This is a battle over hearts and minds. These voters have been lied to, used as pawns, as dupes. It’ll take time, but once they get it, they will react in fury against Mr. Trump.

Randolph W. Hobler
Norwalk, Conn.

To the Editor:

Did I read this article correctly? Democrats need to hide who they are in order to win elections? What a damning, unintentional self-indictment.

Richard Sybert

To the Editor:

Re “120,000 Children Lost Caregivers to Covid” (news article, Oct. 8):

I am usually a pretty stoic person, but the enormousness of pain reflected by the story about 120,000 children who have lost a parent or caregiver broke me.

To think there are Americans running around screaming about the injustice of being asked to get a vaccine or wear a mask while the smallest shoulders among us are bearing the heaviest of burdens really makes you wonder what has happened to the soul of our country.

Have we become so callous and vicious with one another that a tragedy like this is not enough to bring us together so we can fight this scourge as one?

Michael Scott
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Re “Unable to Walk, She Needed to Run” (Science Times, Oct. 5):

Elisabeth Rosenthal’s confession that her running is “more spiritual than pragmatic” struck a chord with my exercise ethic. As a longtime daily runner — three miles around the block with our fox terrier, Socks — I understand Dr. Rosenthal’s need to run, even after an accident.

After two hip replacements, more than a decade ago, stopped my daily runs, I began substituting other exercise. It doesn’t work — not the elliptical, a bicycle or weight training.

The only close relative to running I have found is aquafit classes. The thumping music and smiling water compatriots allow a mental escape from the daily grind and anxieties of living. But it’s a facsimile, not the real gold standard.

So I wish Dr. Rosenthal a rapid return to running and to recapturing the “emotional sustenance running provides.”

Mary Lake Polan
New Canaan, Conn.

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