Winning Social Media but Losing the War

Today, Betsy Devos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education. Regardless of your politics, it is clear that she is completely unqualified for the position, as evidenced by the fact that she didn’t know the difference between basic educational concepts like growth vs proficiency.

Despite the outpouring of opposition to her nomination on social media and countless calls to people’s representatives, Democrats were only able to get 2 Republicans to vote against her. The net effect of this serves as a perfect example of what I call “winning social media but losing the war”. In other words, winning a cathartic battle in your social media echo chamber is ultimately a hallow victory.

This leads me to a greater point:

1) If you want to enact your preferred government agenda, you need to get a legislative majority

2) If you want to get a legislative majority, you need to win elections nationwide across diverse areas

3) To win in diverse areas, you need to have a broad and appealing message to people that vote

My biggest complaint with the Democratic party the past 8 years is that they have narrowed their appeal to focus on the priorities of their heavily urbanized coalition. The main talking points revolve around cultural issues over economic ones, while demonizing the opposition as ignorant, bigoted, or privileged.

Even if those viewpoints are 100% right, this approach is still a sure losing strategy when it comes to elections. Our dual federalist system built in mechanisms such as the Electoral College and equal representation of senators to ensure broad geographical governance. For example, if 100% of California and New York vote Democratic, that still only equates to 4 senate seats. You still need to win congressional seats in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida etc. to further your legislative agenda.

The proof is in the pudding. In comparing Democratic standing from 2006 to now, the Democrats have lost 39 House seats (233-194), 3 senate seats (51-48), and 12 governorships (28-16). In order to prevent future Trumps, Democrats will need to win back the Rust belt blue collar white voter that they have shunned away with years of identity politics.

Ultimately, there are 3 key takeaways:

1) Only winning social media is a Pyrrhic victory

2) In order to prevent people like Betsy Devos from getting nominated, you need to win elections

3) To win elections, you need to have broad appeal across various geographical regions

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