Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A message was occasionally aimed directly at the middle class in some races this past election, and where it was most directly put by progressive candidates, they won. It is one of the two messages, both of which have strong class components, which will define politics in America for the next generation; each has a light side, and a dark. The light in the first message is connected to job outsourcing, and is expressed as Fair Trade; its dark is connected to racial fears, expressed as Illegal Immigration. For an idea of how it can be used to win elections, let's look at a Republican stronghold, a notorious neo-lib graveyard of the last 6 years and more. Two years ago, a new House representative elected there, and wore a star spangled banner blouse for her first nationally televised address; looking like she had a case of rabies and spasming like an enraged church lady, she called Jack Murtha a coward for his opposition to the Bush Administration. The Representative was "Mean" Jean Schmidt; the Republican stronghold is Ohio.

Make that "former" Republican stronghold. Sherrod Brown's victory there for the Senate race is a signal of how dramatically the American political climate is changing, a model for the Democratic Party to follow at national and local levels, and a hint at how fast the change may occur. Brown beat the Republican incumbent (Mike DeWine) by 12 percentage points. The last time a Republican incumbent was unseated in Ohio was 1976, in Watergate's oily wake, and even then, Harold Metzenbaum only edged incumbent Bob Taft by 3 points. Brown smoked DeWine, and as with many races where the turnout surprised Republicans, his victory was paced by strong labor support. Below is the model, and transcript, of the message that stikes The Nerve of the American People. Merely insert your state and industry to employ as needed (click the title above to get to Brown's ad on YouTube):

Message: Ohio has lost more than 195,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001. Ohio Republican incumbent Senator Mike DeWine supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China.

DeWine has taken more than $1 million from companies that outsourced U.S. jobs and voted for special tax breaks for companies sending those jobs overseas.

Political Ad: "They work hard, they love their country, they play by the rules. But the cars, steel, and appliances they used to make are now being made overseas, where workers are paid three or four dollars a day. My opponent supported the trade agreements that cost us these jobs. He says, "It's just business." I say it's wrong! I'm Sherrod Brown, I approved this message. In the Senate, I'll judge trade agreements by this standard: are they fair to Americans, and do they put Americans first?"
Formula: 1) point to job loss through outsourcing; 2) Point to CEO who gets rewarded for job outsourcing; 3) point out how much incumbent has piggied down slurping in the corporate trough. That will be how it's done, and when people are going to realize who the enemy is, they'll vote against it. The other side will employ ads which depict foreign drug dealers breaking into houses at night, and in some areas of the Homeland, that approach will meet with success. But jobs are a much stronger message.

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