Just over sixteen months until Election Day 2012, and the two key questions that Florida’s thousands of Democratic Party and progressive activists must confront sooner rather than later are:
2) Will Democratic Party leaders at state/county levels, along with candidates/campaigns, “get it right” with messaging/communications & voter engagement/activation strategies in 2012?
In considering the answers to those questions, well, # 2 anyway, one must also consider the dual challenges that Florida Democrats face in the 2012 elections: Helping reelect President Obama by helping him win the critically swinging Sunshine State; and progressing as far as possible in restoring legislative balance to a state government dominated by right wing extremist Republicans.
We all know that the GOP in FL and around the country succeeded in making the 2010 state-level midterms a referendum on National Politics – a referendum on Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. And most of us have admitted by now that the Dems should have said “Bring It ON” and taken proud ownership of multiple national steps forward, while relating them to local issues and realities.
In 2012, there can be no pussyfooting around about full-throttle alignment with the President and with the national Democratic Party – and that includes elections in more conservative and Republican-leaning districts. No Guts, No Glory. No willingness to creatively contrast Democratic vs. Republican accomplishments, budget priorities, tax policies and problem-solving strategies…and there will be little progress in Florida.
“Getting it right” this time around also means the FL Democratic Party establishment at the state and county levels needs to create “an authentic narrative”. The scores of voters who failed to turn out for Alex Sink & other worthy Democratic candidates need to see & feel that the FDP is for real – as in, on the ground, helping meet human needs at a time of crisis, working on service initiatives in the key, vote-rich communities & counties that it took for granted and failed to effectively engage with or adequately turn out to vote in 2010…African-Americans, Haitian & Caribbean-Americans, Hispanic & Latino Americans, Asian-Americans, college students & young voters…Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County…
Should I continue? Okay. In 2010, the FDP also failed to adequately connect with the constantly growing online progressive community and blogosphere, and did not make the most out of relationships with the highest profile progressive & liberal organizations and organizers. The good news is, there have been very good signs of course corrections on these two particular fronts, which will only help the cause.
But on that grassroots community level, recitations about vastly improved “zone & precinct” organizing and “Get Out The Vote” systems are not enough. These systems have been used with great effectiveness in places like Palm Beach County and are well designed, finely tuned and critically important. But if inspirational credibility and messaging authenticity is not established at the ground level with all those key, vote-rich communities, then all the best systems will still not be enough to carry the day.
Democratic Victory in 2012 will be all about telling our compelling, small-scale human interest and community stories – and our Big Picture Democratic Ideals Story – in varied, creative, compelling ways…from online videos, to Tweeting teams, to prayer breakfasts, and beyond. We’re talking The Full Monty of Communications, from the most modern & cutting edge to the most traditional and time-honored.
Democratic Victory in 2012 means creating an authentic messaging narrative, effectively interweaving the story-lines of the National and Florida battles between moderate Democrats and right-wing extremist Republicans. Given how Rick Scott, Haridopolos, Cannon and the rest of the Republican Party of Florida are pontificating, infighting, malfunctioning and legislating in 2011 – the opportunity to establish and communicate a credible, authentic, narrative is there for the seizing.
So, once we’re done with our Chicken and/or Vegggies…Let’s Go Do This Thing.