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THOMPSON: How can Democratic candidates win votes in November?

September 20, 2021 - 12:00 PM



A couple months ago, the Florida Democratic Party asked me to serve on the Messaging Subcommittee of its Campaign Committee for the 2022 Mid-Term Election. I’m not exactly sure why they asked me to be honest.

I’ve never held any elected political office or even an appointed position…despite being politically active and never missing a vote since I was 18 years old.

Maybe it’s my decades of experience as a communicator…an ability to persuade people by stringing together words in such a fashion that something makes sense. Yeah, I’m gonna go with that because…well, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

I haven’t met my fellow Messaging Subcommittee members face-to-face…I guess that’ll happen when I go to Florida next month. But I sure have some thoughts about how Democratic candidates can win votes next November…and in politics that is the only measure of messaging…or for that matter…campaigning.

It might seem easy for Democrats to gather and say, “The Republican Party…home of crazy conspiracy theorists, racists, misogynists, Donald Trump Mini-Mes, anti-immigrants, seditionists…how can we lose?”

If ever there was a statement that is both true and false…it is this - to quote Sir Winston Churchill - “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…but perhaps there is a key.”

The key is the Democratic Party doesn’t know and understand…wait for it…men. Yes, men in general, and specifically, men of colour.

You only have to look at the recent California Governor recall vote to learn that we have a lot of convincing to do with a lot of men. Republicans - by getting 12 percent of voters in the last election to sign a petition - spent millions of dollars trying to recall or throw out the sitting Governor, Gavin Newsom, a Democrat…and replace him with a Republican.

Last week, when all the votes were counted, more than twice as many voters wanted the governor to remain in office as those who wanted to “throw the bastard out.” This is a good thing…because the Republicans had another nut case - Trump Mini-Me Larry Elder - a Black Right-Wing radio host who argues that slave owners - not slaves - are due reparations ready to move in the Governor’s Mansion. Yeah, let that sink in.

But if all that is the riddle, wrapped in a mystery…here’s the enigma: Half of California’s Hispanic male voters supported the governor’s recall…as did 25 percent of Black male voters. Indeed, three times as many Black men voted to recall Newsom as Black women.

Now if you assume the California electorate reflects most of the rest of America…and it always does…what should that tell Democrats in Florida running the 2022 campaign. Let me help…It says that you need to know why Black and Hispanic - and in Florida, Cubans - men not only don’t see Democrats as a better choice than Republicans…a good number see the racist, misogynistic, crazy conspiracy theorists, anti-immigrant and seditionist Republicans…as most worthy of their support.

To parody travelling salesman Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston) in “The Music Man,” Trouble, oh we got trouble…right here in Florida…with a capital "T"...that rhymes with "P"…and that stands for - not pool - but people.

People we don’t know. People who are so suspicious, so untrusting that they flock to the antithesis of those who might seem best aligned with their interests. In the communication biz that calls for research…Florida Democrats you need to find out what will change the minds of hundreds of thousands - maybe a million or more - of male minority voters. Rather than pushing or dragging these folks across the Democrat Party line…you need to convince them to walk over and join you.

What do Black and Hispanic and Cuban men want? Do they care about reforming the judicial system? If so, do they care more or less about that than climate change? What else matters?

Men of colour are going to drift farther and farther away from the Democrat Party if they don’t see the Party as reflective of themselves. Democrats in Florida and elsewhere cannot rely on mere protest votes…you won’t win votes or elections by simply pointing out the absurdly enumerable defects of Republicans.

The Democrat Party needs to offer up a sincere mea culpa to men of colour, and earnestly engage them to see if they want to be Democrats. I know what won’t work, telling them the other Party is filled with racists, crazy conspiracy theorists, misogynists and seditionists.

Sometimes the truth simply isn’t enough.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines.

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