There has been a lot of talk about the desperate need for Democrats to create a new brand with a new message. It seems as though the party’s leadership is zeroing in on a new slogan for their long promised economic agenda: a “Better Deal.”
The Democratic effort to rebrand themselves has come with a confession that simply running against Donald Trump wasn’t a winning strategy in 2016 and probably won’t be effective in 2018 either. The new mantra is being polled in battleground districts. It aims to convince voters that Democrats have more to offer than their GOP rivals and they are even ready to one-up the self-proclaimed “deal-maker” in the oval office.
This new messaging plan is being led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They are also preparing a new jobs package that centers on trade and minimum wage. But some moderate Democrats who are facing reelection next year are not willing to leave the messaging in the hands of these party leaders. They are crafting their pitch to voters. The divides that the party experienced between the Clinton and Sanders supporters has not been healed. And Democratic leadership may find as we get closer to the midterm elections that their party is not as unified as they think. Those who will need to defend their seats in Trump-friendly states may not stay in stride with the left-leaning party heads.
“Message has always been a challenge for Democrats because it tends to get too convoluted and not very simple,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said in a recent interview. “We ought to have a message already,” added Tester who is the former chief of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm. He is up for reelection in 2018. “I’m not sure we have a cohesive message. But we’ve certainly got one for Montana,” he said.
Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) also declared his independence from leadership: “If the left and the right are going to have a certain message, I’m going to have my own message,” Correa said.
“It would be helpful if there was a good national message, but the Blue Dogs do not count on that or rely on that,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), chairwoman of the moderate Blue Dog super PAC. “If you have the right candidate, who’s a good fit for his or her district, that is what matters the most.”
Joe Manchin of West Virginia said, “I don’t think they’re electing me because I have a D or have an R by my name,” Manchin added. “It’s always been, ‘Joe Manchin did this. He’s fighting for West Virginia.’”
And Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said, “One of our concerns coming out of 2016 was it appeared that the message was largely ‘I’m not him.’ That’s not an aspirational message. You need to give people a reason to vote.”
Some House Democrats say they haven’t fully bought into the “Better Deal” slogan, which harks back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. And others have questioned whether getting consensus from a Washington caucus is too “inside the Beltway.” They suggest that ideas be taken back to their districts for trial runs during the August recess.
There is no doubt that Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is on target, “It won’t be enough over time to simply block — we’re going to have to focus on an agenda moving forward.”
Do you think the Democrats are on the right track? What do you think about the “Better Deal” slogan?