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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Want To Appeal To Millennials And Win Elections Going Forward? Here's How

As anyone with one eye and half-sense can observe, the Left got its ass handed to it in the 2014 elections. We deserved it, too. We completely capitulated our Progressive and Liberal ideals. We deserted the President and his policies, going so far as to distance ourselves from him before the election. We ignored the warnings that Millennials don't want to hear the din of petty political battles. We failed to see that the recent victories we had won happened because we moved Left, not Right. Despite that, the Democratic Old Guard felt that they just had to yank the reins at the last moment and they drove us right over the cliff. 

Thanks, assholes. Thanks for nothing. And one more thing:  You're fired!

What we should do next is radically different than what we've done heretofore: We should not jump into the fray until 3 months before the election. 

Pick your jaw up off the floor, stop laughing, then STFD and STFU; it's class time, and here's the main point you need to remember, and I'm going to help you 'get it':  Millennials have short attention spans. Don't worry that I just said that, they've already forgotten it.  (Kidding, Millennials! I actually love ya. Seriously, I do. Some of you more than others, and...OK, this isn't the forum for that. nm)

This is the part that so many people are going to have trouble with, thinking that "branding" requires constant, in-your-face advertising: We're going to let the GOP kill themselves with their own ads. There's going to be a giant sucking sound of silence from our side. Until we're ready. Then we're going to play our game, not their game.

We'll start the general election run up on 1 August for the November elections. Just 3 months and a smidge more. Prior to that, yes, we'll have to do a primary. But then we're going to sit on our hands except for some occasional ads, "occasional" being our mantra. 

This is how our ads will be formatted:

First, we'll hire some smart, but smartass, actress or actor - I'm thinking someone like Justin Long, here - who's cool and confident without being smarmy about it. She and/or he will need to be a Millennial, but a well-respected one. They'll be on a big stage (only one spokesperson per ad - we want these ads to be minimalist) with an enormous screen behind him playing the competition's campaign ad. He'll casually ask if you've heard the latest thing the Right's Brightest Light Du Jour has said, then turn to the screen where the sound from the video already playing will come up with the candidate in question saying whatever asshat batshitcrazy thing they're noted for saying. Then, he'll turn back to the camera and say something like, "And they want me to vote for her?", then shake his head and walk off while the camera zooms slowly in to the opponent's rabid expression frozen on the big screen. 

Besides a regular spokesman like the aforementioned, have a rotating series of TED-quality spokespeople - well-known, actual-experts in their fields - challenge opposition candidates' spoken or written words, as well as to elucidate our own points. They could challenge one sentence or at most one paragraph per ad, with more commentary available on YouTube and the campaign's website. Let actual climate scientists challenge the climate deniers positions. Let gay veterans and gay celebrities challenge anti-LGBT or anti-marriage equality candidates and positions. Let actual economists challenge economic bullshit. Professor Robert Reich could be a superstar in that area.

Experts could make short points, dozens or even hundreds of them. Impress young voters with the depth and breadth of Progressive knowledge rather than beat them over the head with the same blunt instrument over and over. Use a white board with certain points; again, Professor Reich is the master of this. Bill Nye is another one who is highly respected, easy to follow, and highly telegenic. 

Each 15- or 30-second expert ad can be followed up by a slightly longer version - but don't rehash the same material boringly - in an online video posted to YouTube and our own websites, with links to peer-reviewed scientific articles, and generally-agreed assessments of things like economics. 

The ads should be short when it can be done effectively. Run lots of them, each intelligently and rationally challenging the opposition's positions and candidates, or bringing new Left ideas to their minds. Use humor. Let me say that again: U-S-E  H-U-M-O-R-!  Climate denier bullshit? Let a bunch of young climate scientists make a rebuttal, then drop their pants and moon the competition (we'll blur their heinies :)  ).  Be brainy, the brainier the better. Use smiles, not frowns. Never yell. Be normal. 

Try to not repeat them often. This is another reason to make lots of them. When someone sees on TV one they really love, make them go look for it. When they do, they're no longer on TV - unless it's a Smart TV - they're on the internet where they're likely to share the information and video they found. 

"Luke, use the...viral videos!" I'm pretty sure Obi Wan would've said that...

They should NEVER be attack ads. They should NEVER sink to the level that the GOP will sink to, even if we think we're losing. They MUST appear sane, level-headed, fair, and they must be memorable in the slew of hot shit that flies during an election. 

And this process - which will work - needs to be repeated throughout the Left's campaigns. We need to show solidarity, something the Right excels at. Also, each ad must end with an appeal to action. ("Will you stop pretending everything's fine and join us so that we can fix this?" or something better said)

We're going after young voters. Hell, we're going after 10-year-olds because one day soon, just 2 Presidential election cycles away, they will vote. We're not going after old voters. Those folks are already decided, for the most part, and probably tune out political ads...the moment they keep them from enjoying 'Matlock' and 'Golden Girls' reruns. ;)  (Fair disclosure: I'm 56, 3 days older than dirt!)

We've got to stop letting the same people throw the same wrenches into the processes. We've got to evolve, and that will never happen if we keep reverting to 'business as usual' by letting the Nelly Handwringers in the bunch run around screaming "The internet gave me herpes!", then go negative and fuck it all up. 

As for campaign money, think about it this way: Why spend your hard-begged lucre funds buying ad time when, if your ads are sufficiently brainy and viral, people will go find the ads, not the other way around. Use the hottest young Progressives and Liberals to make the points and make kids - young voters and young future voters - want to see them. Make them a game: "To see if your thoughts match ours, go to our website and follow the breadcrumbs!", then leave a trail of clues that will take them to other websites that illuminate our talking points. Educate them, it's what they want, anyway. Millennials grew up with technology like no one before them, and we need to use that to hold their attention. We also need to stop pretending that we have them figured out...and then use 1970s tactics to prove that we don't. Or even 1990s tactics, for that matter. 

It's a paradigm shift and disruptive technique. Disruption of the cycle of "Oh shit, we just handed another midterm election to the Grand Oligarch's Party" is what we need, going forward.

We need to start playing the long game and stop this series of losses to a party and political philosophy that I've heard declared dead at least a dozen times in my lifetime alone. They win because they found a method and they've stuck to it. 

But the difference between our method and theirs is that ours will play well to youth and intelligence, whereas theirs plays down to people they think are beneath them and whom they believe to be too stupid to see through the bullshit.  

In 'Two Gentlemen of Verona', William Shakespeare beautifully said, "Come. Go with us. We'll guide thee to our house and show thee the rich treasures we have got, which, with ourselves, are all at thy dispose". In our day, humanity is our "rich treasures", and our house is the Earth. Some of us believe that the best way to grow our treasures is to share them with others, but other people think that it's better to hoard them and set themselves apart.

Let's show Millennials that we believe democracy to be a mathematical process involving addition and multiplication. They'll figure out, with a little nudge from a new campaign philosophy, that the Republicans believe it to be a process of subtraction and division.