Democratic Politicians Get Terrible Advice

Julie Hotard
8 min readJun 15, 2021

<Writer’s note: On Medium here, where I wrote this blog, I can edit and update the content of my articles but I can’t change the date Medium on them, which is the date when the article was originally written. This article has been updated since it was written.>

Democrats — the only party strong enough to fight off fascism in the U.S. — are receiving disastrous advice. It’s no wonder the U.S. is at risk of becoming a fascist country — with Republicans having won far more down ballot races than Democrats in 2020 and Republicans having won a lot of races in 2022 also — enough to control the House. Now the GOP has the power to try to pass voter suppression legislation in 47 states. They are trying now.

@democracydockett on Twitter is the go to source for details on that situation.

I should note that Democrats have at least one good consultant whom I know of — Rachel Bitecofer. They should hire more like her.

Below is what Democratic politicians are hearing they should do about Republican disinformation and crimes. This is what most — though not all-people who have the ears of Congressional Democrats are telling them.

Consultants tell Democrats to be passive — to do nothing at all about Republican crimes and disinformation — to just pass good laws that help people — because that will win elections. Below is a clip from a discussion with James Carville and Nicholas Kristof, who were on a recent Bill Maher show. These are exactly the kinds of clueless folks to whom Democratic politicians listen.

I don’t know if either of them are on the DNC payroll right now. Whatever consultants are on the DNC payroll, they are likely telling Democrats exactly this. In newspapers, on TV and on social media — Almost all advice to Dems I have ever seen is of this nature — except advice from the Left, which is generally ignored.

In fact Hillary Clinton, in her book What Happened, mentioned a consultant advising her to act passively when Donald Trump was acting like a stalker — walking up behind her during the presidential debates prior to the 2016 election.

Here’s the clip of the advice eternally given to Dems:

That’s what Democratic officials and the DNC are being told. Do nothing about messaging. Just pass laws that help people. How’s that working for Democrats?

Below is what happens when elected Democrats follow that advice — when they pass good laws but don’t worry about messaging or about communicating to the public what they’ re doing.

“Half of U.S. states, all of them led by Republican governors, are cutting off billions of dollars in unemployment benefits for residents, rebuffing a key part of President Biden’s response to the coronavirus recession.”

People in half of the states won’t benefit from the help Democrats tried to give them.

Voters in those states probably won’t find out that Democrats tried to help and that Republicans blocked the help, either. Why? Republicans aren’t going to talk about it. Democrats seldom talk about the evil actions of Republicans either — thus allowing Republicans to get away scot-free with screwing over the public time and time again. Many, though not all, Democratic politicians have a problem with passivity and unwillingness to fight hard for democracy. Their consultants make that bad habit worse.

Democrats definitely need to ditch their consultants and hire more competent ones.

Since I wrote this article originally, it has become known that “Morning Joe” — Joe Scarborough — a Right Winger on MSNBC — is apparently an unofficial consultant to Joe Biden. This is exactly what Biden needs NOT to do — to have an unofficial Right Wing consultant who agrees with Biden’s other consultants, who give him advice from a Right Wing so-called “centrist” point of view.

Another problems with consultants is conflict of interest. Here’s a twitter thread from David Moore about the conflicts of interest by Democratic consultants who are also corporate consultants. That’s a highly significant problem.

Even most Democratic consultants who are not corporate consultants seem to usually do more harm than good.

Why? Most Americans — including elected Democratic officials and Democratic consultants — believe “conventional wisdom.” What does “conventional wisdom” consist of? It consists of Right Wing talking points repeated over and over in mainstream media, until everyone believes. For example, one of consultant David Shor’s interpretations of his big data research is that the “Defund the Police” was responsible for a lot of midterm elections losses. That’s a Right Wing talking point. So is his idea — shared by many Dem consultants — is that “wokeness” and “going too far Left” in campaigning are responsible for all or most of Dems’ losses.

Do people believe Right Wing talking points and other statements that are repeated constantly? Yes. Here is the research showing this.

Democrats should start using repeated talking points on important issues, immediately.

Below is a quote from an article I wrote on that subject.

“in order to get adequate media coverage, Democrats need to have talking points, like Republicans do. Republicans constantly repeat themselves in talking points. Democrats do not. What’s repeated is often remembered and believed.”

The full article is here:

How Democrats Can Get Better Media Coverage to Help Us Move Forward & Defeat More Republicans

Why don’t people believe Democrats’ ideas, just as much as they believe Republican ones? Because, stupidly, Democrats refuse to use coordinated talking points throughout their networks. Dems have many excuses for this failure. For example, many think that it would be “insulting to the voter’s intelligence or would be “stooping to the level of Republicans.”

By not “stooping to the level of Republicans”, the Democrats have ceded the national political narrative, and the framing of messages to Republicans. In large measure because of this, Republicans won far more down ballot elections than Democrats in November, picked up 10 House seats, and still control the Senate to a large degree — due to Democrats not having enough votes to override a filibuster.

Even the fact that Dems have nominal control of the Senate is due only to a local phenomenon in Georgia — the Herculean efforts of Stacey Abrams and her Get Out the Vote team. Without that, McConnell would still be Senate Majority Leader today.

Below is a twitter thread on Twitter from December 2020, from an elected DNC member, explaining how the DNC works — or doesn’t. Every Democratic voter should read this. We need to know the problems of the Democratic party and its subgroups.

It sounds like Atkins wants to do well for the DNC and has high hopes for them. Even so, the situations he describes show how institutions such as the DNC are wasting large amounts of liberals’ time, money and energy, while not getting much of the work done that needs to be done to save democracy.

Even if the DNC were doing the best possible job, they still couldn’t compete with Republicans’ vast network of dark money organizations, TV and radio stations and other organizations that help Republicans.

Add to that the problem that Democrats are science deniers in the areas of messaging and cognitive framing, and you can see we’re in big trouble. Here’s just one example. Republicans like Frank Luntz, author of Words That Work, use focus groups to find the best way to frame the messages the GOP knows they want to deliver about what the GOP stands for. Democrats, by contrast, use focus groups to ask low information voters what Dems ought to stand for, and then go with whatever gibberish they get in response.

Also, Dems seem to limit their focus groups and survey questions in such a way that they always get the same answer: Focus campaigns on kitchen table issues. Since Democrats don’t do much messaging, they don’t tell voters that democracy is in danger. And the GOP certainly won’t tell voters that. So voters don’t know that. If they knew it, they might want Dem campaigns to focus on saving our democracy — including our voting rights, our election system, our public health, our Post Office etc.

The Democrats in Congress could also use better advice and more help from better consultants and Democratic institutions that could help Democratic Senators to attain their goals. Here is a an interesting article about things that could be fixed by James Fallows.

I’d like to see some nonprofit organizations take over various different Democratic institutional functions. One of them should be at least part of the job of Democratic messaging. They wouldn’t have to ask Democrats for permission to do that. They could just decide to do it, as Ailes and Murdoch decided to do Right Wing messaging. Although Fox is a for-profit corporation, Fox lost more than a hundred million dollars per year at its beginning.

Fox’s aim did not seem to be to make money immediately but to get power for Republicans and the Right Wing. Of course, these goals overlap in the long run. The more money one has, the more politicians one can buy in the U.S. political system, resulting in political power.

Below is my article about this. Nonprofit organizations, if they could get funding, could take over some functions the DNC is currently alone with, resulting in the DNC being overly stressed and stretched thinly over themany complex tasks it needs to do.

Open Letter to Liberal Donors: Please Consider Donating to Create Missing Liberal Institutions

Most Democratic consultants, with a few exceptions, give such bad advice to elected Dems that I have to wonder if many of them are actually Republicans who prioritize Democrats being nice to Republicans, over Democrats actually winning elections.

If Democrats will ditch the consultants who advise them to act passively and advise them not to bother with effective messaging — and will hire competent consultants — that would help democracy a lot. If nonprofit organizations would pick up some of the jobs that huge well-funded Right Wing organizations do for Republicans, that would also make a large difference.

There is also the necessity of fighting Right Wing media bubble propaganda — but not the way it is usually done by debunking/preaching to the choir of people who aren’t in the Right Wing bubble themselves. Truth needs to be spread at the same scale and to the same audience of people who are being targeted with the lies that demonize Democrats and glorify Republicans constantly.

Such solutions would let Democrats have a far better chance of being able to defend our democracy and to ward off fascism.