To whom it may concern regarding the United States Federal elections of 2018, 2020 and beyond:
Allow me to introduce myself to you, the existing (or aspiring!) strategist for the Democratic Party. My name is Eric Arnold Garland and I am a White Man. You may remember me from my 2012 letter to the Republican Party where I mocked them for being anti-science, shitty with money, idiots about gay marriage, and generally cruel. HOLEY MOLEY did you click on that! Melted my whole website three times! Also I got more than 80,000 hate mails in the period of a week, with a gross total of over 9,000,000 spelling errors. Good times.
Been a big four years, amirite? Most of the stuff about me is the same as before, making me a Platinum Voter for Democrats or Republicans:
- I’m not just white – due to how hot St. Louis is during climate change, I leave air conditioning with decreasing frequency and am probably EVEN WHITER THAN IN 2012!!!
- Did a little more geneology and found out I’m not just Mayflower. I’m PRE-MAYFLOWER, BITCHES!!! Peter Garland, “The Mariner” – the advance team for the Pilgrims!
- Still have a Master’s Degree, though wrote a couple more books.
- Still in business, still creating jobs!
- Still paying taxes!
- Still grew up in a rural area!
- Still sitting in a swing state in the ‘Burbs!
Yup, you Democrats are pretty obsessed with white dudes with college, since for whatever reason, they aren’t all that into you. And you know what? I did in fact vote for your candidate on Tuesday in an effort to stave off Idiocracy a little while longer.
Now, how can I put this gently? It didn’t f**king matter, did it? You still managed, Democrat-stylee, to pull defeat from the jaws of victory losing to the one moron in the Milky Way galaxy who figured out how to lose money in the booze and casino business. You lost to the guy who made narcissistic personality disorder a household word, a hulking man child who makes George W. Bush look like f**king Aristotle, a guy who’s got simultaneous lawsuits for fraud and raping a teenager. You had the best funded, best run campaign by almost every measure and yet you lost.
And you know what else? You did not lose because of white people.
You did not lose because of racists, though we have a lot of them, and they are uniformly awful as human beings.
You did not lose because of the alt-right, though they are lunatics of the most puerile order.
You lost because your campaign, like your party, has no clear strategy.
The difference between tactics and strategy
Now, let me stress again that this following piece is about strategy. If you’re having trouble with the difference between tactics and strategy, winning the three debates was tactics. The Nasty Women memes? Tactics. Registering www.vagendaofmanocide.com and pointing it at Hillary’s donation page hours after my thing went viral? Brilliant tactical execution.
You know what strategy was? The asshole from Breitbart pounding Hillary with every ugly accusation from treason to witchcraft until the election was such a poop-flinging circus that voter turnout repression took out that 4% lead Nate Silver gave you. That was strategy, the ultimate way to defeat a better prepared, better funded adversary. Loathsome, scurrilous, a violation of every form of decency – but effective.
They strategically crafted a narrative, took a bet, and won.
So, Ms. or Mr. Democratic strategist, are you ready yet to think about grand strategy, or is the current course sufficient?
Right. Let’s get started.
Building a narrative people care about
They say that politics is the art of the possible, but getting elected is about telling a story that matters to somebody’s actual life. Ideally, it should be summarized so easily, that anyone can remember it, pass it on, take it to heart. Let’s just go back a few:
Kennedy: I’m hot, my wife’s classy, let’s go to the f**king moon. Also, let’s hang with Sinatra.
LBJ: He’s dead, so I’m president. Also, how would you like a war in a jungle?
Nixon: You’ve had enough of the Democrats right? Let’s get this shit back in order.
Ford: Well, actually…
Carter: I am a nice guy, not like what’s-his-name.
Reagan: We’re f**king awesome, and I’m not gonna be quiet about it.
Bush 41: I am really good at this stuff.
B. Clinton: I stole their welfare ideas and love their drug war. Let’s get rich! (Also, your daughter is hot.)
Bush 43, 2000: I quit drinking, America, but come have a beer with me!
Bush 43, 2004: I will f**king bomb everyone who looks cross-eyed at us. Also, your condo is worth double.
Obama: Hope and Change! Hope and Change! And fixing the broke stuff.
Pretty straight forward right? Now, what did we pick from yesterday?
H. Clinton: I’ll make it incrementally better than the last eight years. Deplorables!
Trump: Something’s not right. Let’s break shit and watch liberals cry!
Rationally, you might argue that Clinton’s argument sounds better than the other guys’ clarion call to give every toddler an Uzi and a fifth of Jack. And many of you are bathing in shock and anger. Well, don’t pity yourself. There was a way to win this, and you can win the next one. But you’re going to need to get off your ass and actually tell a story that resonates as much as Make America Great Again. And when you decide to venture off the Red Line in DC, quit refreshing FiveThirtyEight every minute (*like me), and quit talking only to people who have five master’s degrees, there are plenty of stories to tell on how you actually plan to lead this country.
The Police Shooting Up Black People
This wasn’t Hillary’s election. It was Sandra Bland’s. Trayvon Martin’s. Eric Garner’s. Philando Castile’s. People literally dying in the streets at the hands of government agents, and where the f**k was the Democratic Party?
I’ll tell you where they were – counting on the black vote, because obviously, they aren’t going to vote for Trump, right?
Apparently, 13% of black men voted for Trump. Irrational? Well what the hell – when even a black President is no guarantee that you won’t be shot dead, why not bet the other side of the table? At least you get to see some comfortable white liberals squirm and wonder what’s it’s like to feel unprotected and underrepresented.
Those numbers could and should have read 99.9% Democratic. The Right Wing doesn’t care if black folks die at a traffic stop, with the exception of a few true libertarians. Why didn’t you own this with a backbone? Afraid of losing the racist vote?
Why didn’t Obama come out and say, “GODDAMN, I am tired of watching these viral-ass videos of Americans getting shot dead” on the sundown of his presidency? What did he have to lose? The poorly trained police officer vote?
How the f**k did the word “Ferguson” never enter this whole campaign cycle. We had tanks in the streets against my neighbors 15 minutes from where I am typing this. But nothing? Nothing to say about militarized police?
This was literally an issue of who is going to protect your life, and it speaks deep in the soul. How much would this have branded the Democratic Party as brave and relentless about making justice equal. But nope.
Rich folks versus poor folks
You know, it’s been many years since it happened, but that financial crisis was quite a thing. Bankers raped this country, and we all had to pay back their losses AND their f**king bonuses out of the Federal Treasury. It happened under Bush, sure – but the bailout happened under Obama.
Why the f**k did nobody go to jail for eight years? Why did Obama lie to the country and say that what these people did was all legal? Why did the Democrats miss the social uprising, smelly and bongo-laden though it was, of Occupy Wall Street?
Democrats touted job growth and a rising stock market, and why not? Nice stats. Also, nobody’s fooled.
In 2013, a woman named Linda Tirado had a blogpost go batshit viral for describing what it’s like to be poor and simultaneously working your ass off in America. That came out in the second Obama administration. You know, the one full of all the great economic recovery.
It’s simple. Wages have not risen to meet housing, education, and healthcare cost increases. Also, the people in the small circle of economic winners have more money than ever before, money that comes from having money, not from working. And nobody is as wealthy as the bankers we paid to put back in their sweetheart position.
This shit happened under Clinton, and it happened in earnest under Obama.
Donald Trump said to the working poor, “It sucks, and we’re gonna give you pride and we’re gonna win again.” Now, he’s f**king lying, but hey, it’s catchy on a hat.
And Hillary said…actually, I can’t quite remember. The economy’s strong? Something. Something not very goddamn effective, anyhow.
How about – WE’RE GONNA JAIL THE SONSOFBITCHES WHO CHEAT YOU AND PAY FOR FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE. Or how about, “Guys, we’re gonna bring back jobs with SECURITY, not this drive for Uber 34 hours a day to keep up with the cost of daycare bullshit.”
Something, anything, that tells you that you get that this isn’t a era of pensions and retirement and security.
Which reminds me…
Hey, are you the party of labor unions or are you cool with global everything and getting paid in Facebook likes? Or are working people another group you just count on.
Geniuses, it’s not like fancy douchebags like me are enough. Abandoning Johnny Lunchpail is a shitty idea. They carry, I dunno, f**king Pennsylvania. Ohio, too!
I’m bored, I’m tired, listen or don’t
Here’s the thing. It’s the end of the stored wealth and social power of the Boom generation. Here’s how I understand the matter: about 18 months ago, the calls went out throughout Democratland and People of Any Talent were told “Hi! Hillary is running! When can we expect your support! You know, or when can you expect us to knife your life’s ambitions in the kidneys?” I’m not squeamish; power is taken and never given, kiddies. But there we traipsed off to yet another round of Inevitability Without Narrative.
This is a great country. What are you going to do with the place? Sum up in a few words.
- America. Let’s give her a fresh coat of paint and go to f**king Mars, baby.
- America. Can we stop all this race shit? Good, let’s explore the ocean.
- America: Land of new bridges, smart power grids, and electric cars everywhere.
- America: We’re f**ked except for movie making and apps, but the rest of us run AWESOME brewpubs.
There are myriad options. But the colossal failure of our elite bureaucracy to understand or predict this is what deserves maximum attention.
The awful, rotten, putrescent clear narrative beat the narrative of centrism, having-it-both-ways, and incrementalism.
We’re Americans. We like to rock. We like to f**k shit up and declare independence and stick it to the man. Jesus, Hamilton is the most popular thing since orgasms and that isn’t clear?
Listen. Or don’t And since the 2012 election, apparently the Republicans listened better. And that scares the piss out of me.
UPDATE, NOV 16, 2016: After recent reports of Russian influence on the vote turnout in this election, I believe that the above analysis may be overtaken by events.