Essential Podcasts: Deconstructed (Episode 11/6/20)
Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.
- According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on. The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do. If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
- Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach.
- Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class. As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.”
- The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors” These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about. “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…”
- Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame. Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
- The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter. These are the issues you should stress. These are the talking points. As Siegel says, “it’s relatively conservative.”
- The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
- As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
- If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
- “At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
- As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message. There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.”
- The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much.
- Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.
- Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”
But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.” Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people. It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them. The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.
Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions. One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy. These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020. Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation. There are no other options. But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about. In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue. It is the unspeakable topic.
The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating. There is a very good reason for this. If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant. The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business.
So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run. How does this make sense?
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