“Throw in the towel!!!”
“THIS is keeping us up at night!!!”
No, these are not my reactions to the Kim and Kanye wedding. These are the subject lines of some recent emails in my inbox from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee soliciting donations. (Okay, the exclamation points were my additions, but I was just taking poetic license to make clearer the emails’ emotional fervor.)
And the bodies of the emails are no less dire:
We’re beginning to think we should just throw in the towel.
The Koch brother’s shady $125 million is beginning to show up on televisions around the country in the form of dirty, lying attack ads. If we don’t act immediately, people will believe their lies and our hopes for a Democratic House will be dead in the water.
This is horrifying:
Republicans have spent nearly HALF A BILLION DOLLARS on anti-Obamacare TV ads — and they keep piling on.
That means the Koch brothers and other Obamacare haters are officially outspending us on the Affordable Care Act 15-to-1. That’s staggering.
This isn’t just bad news for President Obama’s agenda. It’s bad for Democrats across the country who are getting targeted with these deceptive TV ads.
If we don’t hit our $90,000 goal today, then consider all hope of winning a Democratic majority in November lost.
And so on and so forth.
A successful politician and political party are predicated on a certain level of confidence. Now, you can take that too far: Mitt Romney not having prepared a concession speech for 2012 is the most glaring example. Barack Obama exudes the right level of confidence while being very cognizant of the difficulties.
But the DCCC’s emails are klaxons of despair. And they’re not attractive.
My default response to one of their emails is to delete it. They’re written in such an alarmist way that rather than scaring their recipients into action, they’re more likely to numb them into apathy. “Well, if the organization tasked with reclaiming the House is this hair-on-fire, what hope is there?”
I would respectfully argue that the DCCC is embarked on a fucking stupid, insane, and utterly counterproductive strategy.
Ahead of arguably the most important midterm election in several decades, even pop-psychology would dictate that the organization in charge of fundraising for the House Democrats should be putting out positive, nose to the grindstone messages. Yes, the task is difficult, but we can do it. That sort of thing. Something, perhaps, like this:
The Republicans are experiencing what we like to call OCS, Overconfidence Syndrome.
They thought they had these elections sewn up in January, when the Obamacare website was struggling and our polling was tanking.
Trouble is, they were a bit premature. Democrats are now polling 10 points better than they were in 2010 and Obamacare is a huge success. And here at ActBlue, we’ve seen supporters more engaged than ever before.
We have the momentum, we just need your help to keep it going.
This email, from Act Blue, is everything which the DCCC should be. It’s positive. It recognizes the obstacles. It has a can-do spirit. It doesn’t mention the millions of dollars being thrown at the election by the Kochs and their allies. It doesn’t, in essence, depress you and make you feel that the battle has already been lost. And they got my money.
Democrats have for so long run from a position of fear that its ingrained in the DNA. The DCCC does what the DCCC does because it knows how to do no other. And someone who receives one or twenty of their emails, who doesn’t follow politics all that closely but somehow wound up on their mailing list, would be forgiven if she thought all was for naught. Why give money to a group which is preparing ahead of time for defeat? No one wants to do that. I certainly don’t.
Hair on fire and OH NOEZ are a seemingly intractable condition of the Left, or at least of its leaders. President Obama is putting steel into many of them, but old habits die hard. If Democrats want to win in November, they have to stop taking reactionary positions. Get ahead of the news cycle, trumpet Democratic accomplishments and ideals, and don’t apologize. Adopt the Republican playbook, with the difference that they have truth on their side, and aren’t selling a bill of goods.
Frantic, fearful emails have never won an election. But they can certainly lose one.