"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome Back; You Did Dem Good.

Democrats in Power,

Welcome back. Yes, the "back" bit is key. The media helped you out a bit here, but it does reflect the cultural blueprint of this nation: America has a blue body and a red cap. In other words, all things being equal, we like our Congress blue and our Executive red. Why this makes sense is the subject of another blog at another time, but for now, let's just be glad that you're back where you belong. As for Rove's Permanent Republican Majority, it's best to just say nothing and let such fantasies remain in his... fantasies.

Since you won, you've done a splendid job positioning yourselves as a force for change. You have correctly interpreted the voters and aptly messaged yourselves to begin the process of regaining respect and dignity. The Democratic brand has been damaged, and you need to slowly but surely rebuild it with the American people.

Now that you have seats of power, the media will be more interested in your ideas, and this will give you the national spotlight required to re-establish what Democratic leadership means. It will give you the ability to brandish your unique set of Democratic American Values.

Here are a few points to keep in mind as you ramp up to national leadership in a tough -- yet moderate -- political climate.

When the press says "you won the elections on the back of the Iraq war, but what are you doing now that you've won?"... you answer:

"We've already done a lot and stand for a lot:
  • The very fact that we won has already forced Rumsfeld out of his post.
  • Have you read the international media? They're thanking America. The American voters want to regain our respect in the world, and the very fact that Democrats won helps us regain respect.
  • We're already breaking up the sinister one-party system that ensured that the people's business would not be done. Congress only worked 3-day weeks because there was nothing to do but to suck up to lobbyists.
  • We'll happily confirm Casey to Replace Rumsfeld, and will happily not confirm Bolton for the UN post.
  • Americans want the Iraq quagmire to end. We promised the voters we'd take action, and we are. Rumsfeld leaving means the whole war strategy will change, and we will continue to pressure this administration -- as we promised -- to make real progress so we can put this war to bed for good."
Keep your words action-oriented, forward-leaning, and feel the mandate of the voters. President Clinton said that the voters did not give you a mandate, they gave you a chance. I would modify this slightly by saying that the voters handed you a mandate -- and it's on you to execute on their mandate.

Executing on your mandate means pushing this President as hard as you can to fix the Iraq disaster, start showing your fiscal responsibility character, and by all means, highlight your democratic values of respect for law, debate, civility, reason, logic, and clarity.

The time is now. It's your opportunity to give this country something to be proud of. Make us proud of our choice.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's Crunch Time: OKR Talking Points for Tight Races

Democrats running for elections in key states,

Here is the current electorate forecast: A large -- but weak -- progressive front has blanketed the nation due to scattered policy failures (the Iraq war, the national debt, Republican scandals), and a veritable downpour of books poking holes in the Republican brand. Yet, patches of conservatism and regression are breaking through whenever intolerance, fear, or greed are made the topic of conversation.

What should Democratic candidates wear based on this forecast? They should slip into tight-fitting topics like... an endless Iraq war, an endless national debt, endless Republican scandals, all while reciting excerpts from the seemingly endless supply of highly credible books that discredit this Republican-lead government.

Talking Points For All Candidates Running against Incumbents

  • My Republican opponent has stayed the course with George Bush and ignored your concerns, your families, and your well-being.
  • My Republican opponent shares George Bush's, Dick Cheney's, and Donald Rumsfeld's values of endless wars, endless spending, and endless corruption.
  • My Republican opponent is a part of the most disrespected Congress this country has ever seen. It's time for new blood -- I am that new blood.
  • I'm running to put an end to the endless war, the endless spending, and endless corruption. If you want an end to the madness that has taken over Washington, then give me and my party a chance to change the course.
  • My opponent has said XYZ about me. Of course it's not true, but what do you expect from an administration that -- according to Bob Woodward -- is in a State of Denial?
  • My Republican opponent says he shares your values. You should ask yourself... what values? The values of endless war? Or maybe the values of deepening debt? Or maybe the values of reduced privacy? Or maybe it's the values of oil companies?
Talking Points For Harold Ford, Jr.

Ford is being attacked with "dog whistle" race-baiting tactics by the Corker campaign. The Democratic response has essentially been "they must be desperate to release such attacks on Ford." This is fine and tactical, but it's purely political in nature. It doesn't address the moral incorrectness of the Republicans -- and it gives them an undeserved moral free pass. Prepare a more disruptive and effective response:

"Now that people have seen the Republican attack ads on TV, Tennesseans can now clearly see their choice in front of them: vote for a Republican candidate that talks about values yet is indecent and morally bankrupt... or vote for Harold Ford Jr., who represents a candidate who walks the walk and talks the talk of our American Values. If Harold Ford wins this race, his win represents a new hope for all Tennesseans. A Ford win means: no matter what your roots, you, too, can succeed in Tennessee. When Ford Wins, Tennesseans Win."

This approach subtly calls out Republican racism as moral corruption, transforms racism into hope, and turns an attack into a political asset.

Talking Points For Jim Webb

Beating George Allen should be easy. He made his bed -- you just have to show the voters where it is...
  • George Allen is part of the problem in Washington.
  • Voting for George Allen is like voting for George Bush.
  • Endless war, endless debt, endless corruption. Endless problems, brought to you by Republicans like George Allen.
  • This is not about George Allen's racism or heritage. This is about bringing a change to Washington.
  • George Allen represents a blank check and rubber stamp for the endless mistakes of the Bush administration.
  • George Allen is about the past. Jim Webb is about the future.
  • George Allen is desperate to win. Do you really want to vote for a desperate Senator?
  • George Allen: Nice enough guy, but wrong on just about everything.
The trick is to keep it simple, stay on the attack, and stick to proven topics that benefit Democrats this fall.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Democrats - The Party of American Values


Conventional wisdom dictates that Republicans appeal to the "values voters." And while this is a fallacy (everyone has values -- just some different from others), solving this problem is a long-term challenge. The good news is that, thanks to the Congressman Foley incident, voters are now being reminded that Republicans are just normal people who happen to be good at pretending to be morally superior just long enough to be elected. By pretending to be people they're not, it was just a matter of time before charges of hypocrisy tainted the Republican brand. In fact, Foley damaged the Republican's "family values" product much like Iraq has tarnished the Republican's "foreign policy" product. This makes the political environment even more primed for a Democratic upheaval this fall.

But there are two good reasons to continue to be aggressive and innovative in your messaging in the final weeks before the election:

  1. Don't just win - win with a mandate
  2. Use your lead to invest in the future of the party

To continue to invest in yourselves and your party's brand, take ownership of -- and pride in -- the values that you do represent. No, this is not "spinning" Republican values. And, no, this is not about trying to pretend you're Republicans by sounding like them. This is about the genuine portrayal of the unique and specific values that you, Democrats, bring to the table as representatives and as a party.

Communicating Democratic American Values

  • The Rule of Law - Democrats promise to fight terror and corrupt ideologies by using our proud American history of abiding and respecting our laws and institutions
  • Ethics - Democrats promise to put the teeth back into the Ethics Committee in Congress
  • Governing Globally - Democrats will focus on getting the world back on our side
  • Fiscal Conservatism - Democrats promise to reduce the debt by striking the right balance between streamlining government spending and closing tax loopholes
  • Fix Iraq - Democrats will put an end to the faulty Republican-managed war, and begin a support & rebuild strategy. We don't need more war to fix Iraq. We need better solutions from a better party.
  • Directly engage America's enemies - Democrats will press this administration to engage in direct dialogs with North Korea and Iran. To their face. In their face. Set ultimatums. For some reason, Republicans are apparently too scared to work with "evil" directly. And now it's costing us big-time.

Yes, these values are different than the values most people talk about in politics. Just because these are not so-called "family values" doesn't mean that they're not values. In other words, it's time to embrace-and-extend the "values" political tool to your advantage.

Democrats Have American Values - Now go tell voters about them.

Special Note: To be sure, there are even more Democratic values that can be communicated effectively to help communicate your party's value proposition. If you are running for office, and would like to bounce messaging ideas off of Our Karl Rove that might work in your specific region, please feel free to contact us directly for messaging support.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Does Merely Opposing Republicans Get You Down? Try on a Philosophical Framework for Size.


You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to recognize that the entire Democratic party is lacking in certainty and clarity. The Democrats' raison d'ĂȘtre has wilted into a mere shadow of the principled party of the 1930s through the 1970s. And there's a good reason: the nation has moved on. Americans have become more confident, more independent, and more wealthy. As a result, many economic and political Democratic ideals that served this nation so well from the Great Depression until the 70s no longer resonate.

True, your opposition to Republican failures might just get you a majority this fall, but in the face of such utter governing chaos, there shouldn't be a single Republican left in Washington at this point. I assert that you will win new seats this fall not only because of Republican policy self-destruction, but also due to an implicit set of values and ideals about how Democrats think and how Democrats govern.

Democrats have a secret weapon that they've either forgotten about, or have been bullied into thinking it's not valuable. This secret weapon is the set of popular and time-tested American ideals and attributes that include respect for institutions, the rule of law, the art of governing globally, and the ideals of "debate then decide." These are incredibly valuable because our country has been blindsided by an opposing set of Republican values, which include breaking institutions, ignoring laws, challenging the Constitution of the United States, destroying global alliances and trust, and the ideals of "decide then deride."

Despite the Democrats' inability to get in touch with and communicate these mainstream and superior political assets, Americans can still see these values on display when they watch their favorite political comedy show on TV (Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, et al.) -- and viewers implicitly map these values to the Democratic party.

But here's where your problem starts, Democrats: You are also the audience. You go straight to Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and other spitball flingers to get your soundbites and philosophical steak'ums to help make your political points. No doubt, these entertainers are dead-on in their verbal assassinations of the folks running this country. And, no doubt, it feels good to be a part of the clevery. But these entertainers are not the philosophers or framers of the Democratic agenda. They do not work to link the Democratic party to our nation's proud history, and they don't portray Democrats as responsible stewards of governing excellence, complete with straight-talk, and forward thinking principles to ensure long-term health and stability of our nation domestically and abroad. Rather, they are more likely to take pot-shots at Democrats as well because, well, spitball flingers only have spitballs.

But someone out there in the media landscape does move the needle in Democratic advocacy -- and it's time for those of you in office and running for office to set your collective TiVo's to one Keith Olbermann. The anchor for MSNBC's Countdown (airing weekdays at 8PM EST) has found his voice, and it is arguably the strongest, historically grounded, solemn, formidable, and effective voice of reason on Cable TV.

In case you haven't seen him in action lately, please take the time to watch these video clips of his increasingly-frequent "special comments":


Keith's moral and philosophical clarity is not only refreshing, but convincing. Of course everyone should continue to enjoy The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Real Time. Just don't misconstrue clever jabs and comedic outrages for a true principled framework from which to grow a purpose.

In addition to Keith, I highly recommend you also read this article from the Economist: Helping America's Workers (The Democrats need to posture less and think harder) [subscription required]. If you are running for office, or already in office, it would be a wise investment to subscribe to this newspaper. The Economist provides compelling and relevant meaning to liberal principles in ways that are, in many ways, foreign to the American political paradigm. For instance, do you think it's impossible to support unbridled, free-market globalization and income redistribution in the same ideological framework? Well, not only is it possible, but the Economist argues that it a no-brainer, and is the moral thing to do. Start reading.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Running for Office? Then Keep Running.

Democrats running for office,

Much hoopla has been created in Democratic circles over a report that Republicans plan on getting personal in their campaigns this fall. Opposition research, finding character flaws, and even exaggerating facts to cast Democrats as bad alternatives...all in an effort to win their races.

The very fact that Democrats are shaken and/or surprised by such "news" -- and the very fact that this article needed to be written at all -- is an indicator that Democrats have not fully digested a very fundamental paradigm:

Running for office has precious little in common with being in office.

Yes, this seems very obvious when you read it. But, it appears that many Democrats to this day still believe that running a campaign is more akin to giving voters a "preview" of what they would do in office, rather than treating campaigns as a completely different process, with completely different goals and objectives. So at the risk of being rudimentary, I submit the following primer:

Running for office is a public relations exercise. Your primary goal is to be popular enough to get the most votes (and interesting enough to get people to actually come out and vote). That's it! If your positions on the issues help you become more popular with voters, great -- use your positions. But if you have a position is not going to be popular, then you need to shift your message to things that will be popular: your character, values, history, family, successes... whatever topics you can toss into the ring that will help you win more votes and get people excited about you representing them.

Being in office, on the other hand, is about communicating and setting policy and being clear about your positions, and how they link into your vision for your district/state/nation. While public relations plays a part in being in office, it is merely a component of the job. But the policy-related issues and strategies you'll be setting while in office are purely optional things to talk about when you're running for office. So carefully pick and choose the issues you choose to share with voters to ensure you are the most popular.

If we agree on this delineation, then it's clear that Republicans are generally more in touch with -- and fundamentally understand -- the political process. Because Republicans are no longer popular with voters, their top job in campaign mode is to shift the focus onto things that make them more popular than you. And exaggerations, white lies, and misleading information are part of the public relations process: unless there's a law against it, it's fair game.

So when you're attacked by your opponent, it is your responsibility as a candidate to diffuse and deflect any and all accusations (true or not) levied against you in such a way as not to reduce your popularity with voters. Then, immediately refocus the campaign back onto the things that will make you more popular... which right now would be your discontent with the Iraq War and, by extension, the entire Republican approach to governing.

This political season, the Iraq War does seem to be ground zero for popular discontent with voters. And, being the rugged Americans we are, we seemed to have dug our collective heels in on this issue, and have submitted our verdict: it's a flop. Represent this view in your campaign, and it's more likely that people will want you to represent them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Cut and Run" - Stop Running from It and Start Cutting Through It


Their Karl Rove is staking his reputation on entrapping Democrats using "cut and run" rhetoric. Despite the fact that way too many Democrats have given him the ability to pounce like this, it still sounds to me that Their Karl Rove is turning out to be a one-trick pony who just goes back to what used to work, despite the evolving political environment (a telltale sign of a Conservative Mind). This is good news for you.

While Rove's original trick was really effective, it won't match your new set of strategies. Yes, Democrats, you need political strategies, too. No, not policy alternatives... political strategies. I know it's revolting to the Liberal Mind to think of debasing the concept of public service by polluting your message with turns of phrases designed to manipulate. But, campaigns are not public service -- campaigns are public relations drives. So, worry about doing the right thing after you get elected, OK?

In the past months, it's clear that you've avoided the Wrath of Rove by having nuanced, complex, and varied solutions to the problem in Iraq... all just to avoid the "cut and run" label. This is weak, and the polls support this assessment. Oh sure -- ducking the issue might just work if everything continues to get worse, but what if things moderate or even get slightly better in the next 10 weeks? What then?

For the midterms this fall, follow this recipe to help ensure that your current leads are sustainable, even if things stop getting worse....

Your New Set of Strategies

Strategy #1:
Deflect the "cut and run" rhetoric by proposing a philosophy -- not a policy -- that resonates with Democratic values as well as voters' sensibilities toward the war. This is the antidote to "cut and run." Deploy it at will, wherever possible. If pressed for details, see Strategy #2 below.

"I [Democrats] believe it's time for a change of course for the War in Iraq: It's time to propose and plan for a phase out of American occupation and phase in a support and rebuild effort. While it is our responsibility to help Iraq as much as we can, our 3-year occupation is hurting Iraq and hurting us - it's hurting everybody. When we're done phasing out our occupation, a new American initiative will be part of a coalition of countries who have an interest in supporting and rebuilding Iraq."
Notes about Strategy #1: This strategy calls the war what it is: an occupation. Americans hate that term, and so we need to stick it in everyone's face, and link it with the Republican policy. This messaging also carefully balances our responsibility to Iraq with our need to end the occupation. Support & Rebuild is a positive phrase to be associated with. While it might be implausible to implement, it's a great philosophy to campaign on. And, if nothing else, Democrats need a philosophy to run on.


Strategy #2:
Do not get sucked into solving the problem in Iraq. You can't solve the problem, because you don't have access to the information you need to make a solid policy proposal. Only the Republican Party has full access to this information. And only the American people can give you the keys to access this critical information by voting you into the majority in Congress this fall. Only then can you come up with an alternative plan. Let your constituents know that if you gain majority status, you will instantly be chairing all of the committees, and finally restoring the balance of powers in Washington that should have been serving us all along.

"If Americans vote Democrats back into the majority this fall, Democrats will have the power to stop the spin and spend policy of Republicans and will institute a change of course."

Strategy #3:
Make Republicans look like the hyper-empathetic, bleeding-heart liberals on the War in Iraq that they are. Seriously, Democrats, you've completely missed this dynamic... on the War in Iraq, Bush and the Pubs sound like flaming liberals... caring all about the freedom and happiness of Iraqis more than anything budgetary or fiscal, and just presuming there is universal belief in the implicit value of this agenda. As a result, Bush and the Pubs are putting Iraq's needs above America's in terms of investment, cost, lives, and going after Al Q'aida.

"Democrats believe in completing the War in Iraq on our terms, not Iraq's terms. Democrats don't believe that Iraqis should be determining for us when we're done. When Democrats gain majority status, we will finally be able to tell President Bush and the Republicans when we're done, and why we're done."


Strategy #4:
Make Republicans look lost and confused on the War in Iraq and the so-called War on Terror. If you're thinking to yourself "how?", then you have already bought into a fallacy that the very people who envisioned and executed on these initiatives have no accountability for the results of said initiatives. It's time to wake up to the fact that it's inexcusable for Bush and the Pubs
to have a shred of credibility left on foreign policy.

"Let me break it down for the voters: You can either take a chance and trust me [Democrats] to provide leadership on how we phase out of Iraq, or you can continue to trust the very people who created this disaster in the first place."

Key Phrases to Recite Throughout All Campaigns:

  • Republican policy of Spin and Spend in Iraq
  • Democrats believe in completing the war in Iraq on America's terms, not Iraq's terms
  • Democrats believe in a change of course in our Iraq strategy
  • Democrats believe we need to plan for a phase out of American occupation
  • Democrats believe in phasing in a Support & Rebuild effort in Iraq
  • Voters have a choice: Trust us for change, or continue to trust the Republicans who got us into this mess, and can't seem to clean it up on their own.

These strategies and messages will help crystallize your philosophy, and formulate an approach to counter and neutralize the "cut and run" attack.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Principles Trump Policy

Progressive Blogosphere,

The debate and discussion over Lamont and Lieberman in Connecticut has become increasingly controversial and concerning -- so much so that watching the televised debate became mandatory research for OKR. From an out-of-state perspective, two things became clear after watching the debate:

  • Lamont appears flimsy and whiney, whereas Lieberman appears to have shed his whiney persona and has gotten a lot better at debating since the 2000 campaign.
  • Lamont is running as an outsider and anti-Bush candidate, whereas Lieberman is running as a seasoned, moderate Senator who happens to have a very unpopular policy with regards to the Iraq War.

Bloggers and concerned Democrats who support Lamont, you are falling into a trap. You are supporting a candidate based on a policy instead of his principles. Lamont appears to be a gimmick candidate who is benefiting from a populist campaign focused on a politically-charged topic. Lieberman might not have a popular position in his continued support for the Iraq War, but the Democratic Party will be stronger when it supports candidates of principle and integrity -- even when they appear wrong-headed on specific issues.

How could Lieberman be principled, you might ask, when he supports such a horrible war policy and such a horrible President? He can be principled because while he continues to support the President in the Iraq War, he still believes -- rightly or wrongly -- that his position is the informed, mature, reasonable approach to seeing things through. If he were not principled, he might be seen careening and vacillating with the popular sentiments of the day, month or year. If he were not principled, he might be easily labeled as, say, a flip-flopper. If the man's a hawk (possibly due to an allegiance to Israel, among other things), then the principled thing for him to do is to be honest about his beliefs on the matter, no matter the popularity.

It's easy to see how Democrats might mistrust a politician who seems to be principled. After all, President Bush's ability to appear principled to the average voter was a significant factor in his ability to be almost elected and then re-almost elected. But, just because Bush turned out to be a politically savvy double-talker who merely appears to be principled doesn't mean that Democrats such as Lieberman -- who also appear principled -- should not to be trusted or supported. Conversely, it is arguable that any Democrat supporting the war today has quite a difficult position to manage politically. To contrast, what difficult political positions is Lamont taking?

Then there's Lamont's recent advert of Lieberman's face morphing into Bush. This solidifies Lamont's brand: he is the official "We Hate Bush" candidate. If being anti-Bush is all Democrats and progressive bloggers are looking for in a candidate, then the Democratic Party is but a hollow shell -- a literal shadow of the Republicans (in fact, Democrats are still recovering from being in this exact losing position when they nominated John Kerry in 2004).

So please take pause, step back, do some research on Lieberman's personal life and voting record, and think about his character. Try to look at how he conducts himself as a person and politician outside of the war issue. Think about it...don't Democrats ask moderate, pro-life Americans to step back from that singular issue -- abortion -- and vote on the broad stance on issues of a candidate? Didn't Democrats deride those "other voters" who voted Bush back into office based on a single issue - the war on terror? Or, in some communities, the single issue of gay marriage?

Think about how much you risk inadvertently becoming them as you yourselves get sucked into single-issue politics, and how this feeds a culture of polarization.

Look deep and critically examine exactly what you're supporting and why you're supporting it. Are you supporting a set of guiding principles that strengthen the Democratic Party and subsequent political influence, or are you supporting a set of populist policies that expire rapidly and leave the party constantly on the prowl for the next "anti-[fill in the blank]" campaign?

In the end, I'm afraid Democrats just don't wear "populism" well in today's climate. Populism is easy, cheap, and effective -- and has been the domain of conservatives in modern times. Today's Democrats are supposed to uphold progressive values, which are inherently more difficult to explain because they involve cognitive reasoning, systems thinking, and less usage of mankind's basic instinctive emotional reactions.

Yet, Lamont is running a populist campaign. If Democrats want to differentiate themselves from the failed, populist conservative policies of the past twelve years, now is not the time to support populist Republican clones.

If you follow this line of reasoning, then you just might see that Lieberman is not the Republican clone... Lamont is.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The 2006 Democratic Party Organizing Principle


There are a lot of issues currently swirling in the national debate, and the media and Republicans are going to hold the Democratic party (i.e., you) accountable for having stances on every issue -- inconvenient or otherwise. If the Democratic party plans on getting back into power this decade, you're going to have to lead, which means having positions on everything.

However, just having stances on the issues isn't good enough.
[oh, and using the adjective "real" to describe your version of policy is, frankly, not effective]

The entire party desperately needs an organizing principle which expresses itself as a party slogan as well as a framework from which to address every single issue on the table. An organizing principle that is consistently used to frame up positions reinforces itself and reinforces the party brand. A single organizing principle will seep into the public consciousness like "compassionate conservative" did in 1999/2000. An effective, well-utilized organizing principle will give you the flexibility to speak briefly in sound-bite mode as well as in-depth about any issue on the table.

After much thought and discussion, Your Karl Rove has developed the Democratic Organizing Principle for 2006:

Striking the Right Balance

Breaking this down, there are some clear advantages to adopting this principle:

"Striking" evokes the feeling of aggression and action. The Democratic Party brand is sorely lacking in these attributes thanks in part to the machismo and rhetoric of the Bush administration. Because America is at war now, being aggressive and action-oriented are required traits of the Democratic brand. Plus, it doesn't sound forced, as this word is an integral part of said phrase, which most everyone is familiar and comfortable with.

"Right" implies a values-based determination, and more importantly, maps to each person's individual idea of what is "right." Getting the individual's values engaged in the conversation makes them a participant, and participants are always more engaged than just consumers of rhetoric.

"Balance" ties into some fundamental American values that resonate with large swaths of voters. Phrases like "the balance of powers," "checks and balances," and "a balanced budget" are positive phrases that will be freely associated with the Democratic brand when this phrase is deployed.

Taken together, these two words not-so-subtly imply that the Republicans do not represent the right balance. The implication is that Republicans represent a party out of balance, and out of sync with core American values. The power here is that your organizing principle implicitly puts Republicans on the defensive without you needing to explicitly attack and appear partisan.

Built-in Flexibility: Nationally, this principle can reinforce the party brand of prudence, insight, and responsibility. Locally, this principle is flexible enough to be used in each individual district, no matter the local political landscape. For instance, striking the right balance just might vary between Mississippi and, say, New Hampshire. This built-in flexibility provides each politician in the field the ability to tweak the balance to effectively represent their district and/or state. Meanwhile, the aggregate power of every politician saying the same phrase will help reinforce the national brand, which in turn will further support local races. It's called a positive feedback loop, and it's high-time that the Democratic Party benefited from one of these, don't you think?

This organizing principle can be expressed in many different ways to solve many different political challenges. Here are just a few examples of its potential application:

The 2006 party slogan - Democrats, Striking the Right Balance for America

For sound bites on policies: Democrats represent striking the right balance on...

  • individual privacy and collecting intelligence
  • indefinite war and immediate withdrawal
  • tax relief and the national debt
  • immigration and naturalization

For a values debate: Democrats represent striking the right balance on...

  • individual freedom and federal laws
  • religious freedom and federal laws

For a national campaign metaphor:

"Democrats represent ushering the country back to the right balance in Washington. For too long, there has been only one party in power, clearly with no ability to keep itself in check. This has resulted in a single-party imbalance, with the unfortunate consequences of a never-ending war, higher gas prices, loss of individual privacy, corruption, scandals, torture, and Bin Ladin still on the loose. To strike the right balance, which will lead us to the best solutions, we need to have Democrats in power to hold this administration accountable. This means voting Democrats into power in the U.S. Congress in 2006."

With these examples, you can start to see how this organizing principle can be broadly applied to an almost infinite set of political challenges.

Of course, for specific races, these points will fall flat unless the deeper meaning of what "balance" means is communicated -- folks can't just say "I believe in striking the right balance between privacy and collecting intelligence" without having specifics around what this means to them. But, whatever details local politicians decide to explain after the organizing principle is set, these details will naturally be heard in the context of balance. You will be conditioning the voters before you tell your story.

After five years of imbalance by design after 9/11, the pulse of the nation is telling us that we're ready to shift back into an era of balance, competence, and a renewed interest in working toward a stronger whole, instead of a weaker divide.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Same-Sex Stunts


With all of the focus on same-sex marriage, those Republicans must not really be that concerned about what Americans really care about: our brave soldiers fighting and dying in a failed war, Bin Ladin still on the loose, federal corruption scandals, astronomical deficits, a larger and more intrusive government, or an economy that has lost its appetite for the middle class.

Instead, this administration and their rubber-stamp congress would rather further the agenda of intolerance by trying to once again ban gay marriages through a constitutional amendment.

Funny how big-governmental activism is back in vogue under the Republican brand, isn't it? Funny how focusing on intolerance and division is the only way Republicans think they can win elections anymore? Funny how an abysmal administration tries circus-style stunts in an attempt to win votes, isn't it?

Don't miss a beat on this: Democrats will not participate in Same-Sex Stunts when this country has so many other more pressing issues. If Republicans think that ending gay marriage will help us win the war on terror, put an end to deficit spending, improve the economy, and end government corruption, then all the power to them.

Democrats, instead, will continue to focus on the pressing issues that define our time:

  • Ending the Era of Terror
  • Rebuilding the American middle class dream
  • Focusing on American innovation and strength gained from working together
  • Creating "Smart Security" for America through advancing energy independence, border management, and putting an end to the era of global warming

As long as Republican remain a single-party majority throughout Washington, Americans will continue to be victims of political stunts designed to pit us against each other. These stunts waste our tax dollars, get nothing accomplished, and continue to weaken America's defenses against the real threats of our time: Al Q'aida, the middle-class economy, global warming, and the national divide.

Call a spade a spade: The Republican Congress, combined with the out-of-touch Republican administration, are clinging desperately to political stunts in order to try to keep their majority when the real business of moving America forward is being ignored.

Americans are sick and tired of Republicans choosing political stunts over real progress. It's time for a change in leadership in congress.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Everything's Getting Worse

(It's Time for Things to Start Getting Better)


The national mood is now ready for you to come out swinging without sounding "anti-patriotic" or "one with the terrorists."

To put it bluntly, the Republican leadership over the past six years has made everything worse for America.

  • The economy? Worse, except for CEOs and oil companies.
  • Safety? Worse, with global terror on the rise, and Bin Laden still on the loose.
  • Jobs? Worse, with no "next big thing" on the horizon domestically to create new jobs.
  • Taxes? Worse, with over 100 new tax forms created since Bush and his congress took office in 2000.
  • Tax Relief? Worse, because high gas prices are just as bad as high taxes.
  • Religion? Worse, with the erosion of separation between church and state. Our Founding Fathers never wanted it this way.
  • Values? Worse, with corporate and government corruption on the rise under Republican leadership.
  • Vision? Worse, with the biggest ideas being a mission to Mars and WMD's in Iraq.
  • Deficit? Worse, with the largest federal spending in history after Democrats left them a surplus.

Republicans are going to spin this a thousand ways to Sunday, but it's doesn't much matter how they spin it: the results are in, and the Republican Way of Governing has proven not to work.

You can be honest when talking to your constituents: Democrats still need to work harder on their stance on key issues. But tell them where you stand on your issues.

Tell your constituents to vote for you in 2006 to bring the values of discipline, accountability, competence, and innovation back to Washington. Let's start fixing the things that Bush and the Republicans broke.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stamping Out Blank Checks and Rubber Stamps


I don't have to tell you how critical it is that we end the era of single-party governance. Americans need and deserve a balance of power in Washington for the duration of Bush's term. This is why OKR will be focusing on providing messaging and politically effective solutions throughout 2006 to help ensure that Democrats take at least one chamber of congress back this fall.

We all know that there are going to be some tough races, and you cannot assume that Bush's unpopularity will automatically give you an advantage. It is incumbent upon every politician running for office to continually connect the dots between your local race and the mess this administration has gotten us into.

"Normally, this would be a race between me and my opponent -- a race to decide who represents the citizens of our [district/state]. However, this is no ordinary time in America's history. We are living in a time where the Republican party has led our country into a disastrous war, spent us into unprecedented national debt, desecrated our laws, corrupted the values we hold dear, and grew larger and more invasive than any administration in our lifetime.

But I'm not so shocked. Besides the double-speak and the false promises, this is an administration that has its own party in congress, ensuring that they could do whatever they wanted to do, and spend on everything they wanted to spend using your money, with no questions asked. What I'm saying is that the Republican majority in congress has been in the back pocket of this administration.

When you vote for me this fall, you will be voting "no" to scandals, "no" to massive debt, "no" to leaks, "no" to high gas prices, and "not good enough" to the management of the Iraq war. When you vote for me this fall, you will be voting "yes" to pressing forward in new and better ways for our great nation.

Remember, my friends and colleagues, a Republican in congress is a blank check and a rubber stamp for this administration."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rock the Bloat


Spring is the time to start building up the arsenal of themes that you'll use to distinguish your party from the opposing party, and to give yourselves a strategic advantage in the fall elections.

Let's focus on a theme that will cut across ideologies and become a clear winner for you: the bloated federal deficit.

The Republicans have been in charge for six years, spending Americans' tax dollars faster than people can send them in. The big question is: on what? What have they been overspending on that has made Americans happier and healthier? Consider a stump speech along these lines...

"Looks to me like the Republicans are, once again, out of touch. They're spending all of your money on things that you won't benefit from. That's what happens when only one party is in charge. It's like your teenager wanting to buy a Cadillac Escalade because it looks cool, and not having a Mother around to say 'that's nice, but where are you getting the money for that?'

There's just too much bloat in the lobbyist-infested Republican budgeting scheme. Vote Democratic in 2006, and we promise to find out exactly what the Republicans have been spending Americans' tax dollars on. And then, we're going to force a decision: either put our tax dollars to better use, or tell the American people exactly how you plan on wasting their hard-earned dollars."

This is an important inflection point for the party. It's an opportune time to own up to being the party of fiscal discipline, and stripping it out of the Republican brand. It's time to take credit for, and feel proud of, your record of only taxing when necessary to support the basic pillars of our country: healthcare, energy, the economy, and stronger communities. Once these fundamental values are secure, you can tell your constituents it'll be time to look at reducing taxes again.

Speaking proactively about the deficit will help you strip "tax & spend" from your brand, and transform it to "rebuilding the pillars of our country" in accordance with American values (even so-called "Christian voters" won't be adverse to talking about stronger communities and healthcare).

This is part of a pattern you will continue to see here on OKR... redefining classic debates with language and context that changes the dynamic, giving you an advantage on issues that matter. I know that a lot of Democrats see this as "Republican Light," but it's not. Rather, it's about enlightened values through an unconventional lens designed to resonate with the masses... rather than the fringes.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Here It Is: The Democratic Plan for Iraq


One of the most vexing issues for the party is that you have no single, coherent plan for the Iraq war. Good news: now you do. Please read on...

Our overly-simplistic competitors in the Republican party see the world in black and white: either fight until victory or cut and run. While this is definitely simple to understand, it's also unimaginative, and clearly a losing strategy.

Something you might want to share with your constituents is that Democrats are better at planning, so it's no surprise that you have a better plan:

End the Iraq War Without Cutting and Running

  1. End the Iraq War immediately because the original reasons for war are no longer concerns (no WMDs, Bin Laden isn't there, and global terrorism hasn't been stifled by us being there).
  2. Simultaneously with ending the war, immediately begin a rebuilding coalition with the UN and neighboring nations.

Why is this is a better plan? Because if history started today, and we found Iraq in the situation it's in right now, we all know we would not go to war with Iraq. Instead, if we saw a strategic country like Iraq with such internal instability, we would no doubt engage -- and lead -- the global community in establishing stability and rebuilding the country to make it a functioning nation.

So, should we approach Iraq based on what it is, or based on what we thought it was? It's a no-brainer: We should approach Iraq based on the situation on the ground today, not based on faulty ideas, notions, and decisions that Republicans have made in the past.

The Democratic Party is about the future (which is why you consider yourselves progressives), and the Democratic plan for Iraq calls for looking forward, not looking back. We will win in Iraq if we stop investing in our mistakes and start investing in the future.

With this plan, all Democrats have something simple, positive, and interesting to say when asked by the media what Democrats would do differently than this administration in Iraq. By having a single, coherent plan for Iraq, you can change the conversation about "pro-war vs. anti-war" Democrats into a clear, strong and consistent progressive approach to U.S. foreign policy.

This is the kind of plan the party needs in order to regain foreign policy legitimacy. Americans want choices, and it's your job to give it to them. Stop hedging and start leading by consistently communicating a responsible, progressive alternative to Republican incompetence.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Immigration Discrimination


I don't quite know where this immigration issue came from. Sure, it's a national issue, but with all the things going on in the country and in the world, I'm guessing that this is a situation where their Karl Rove is trying to redirect the national anger toward the administration's handling of the war to border-leaping Mexicans.

Don't fall for this tactic.

Immigration is an issue, but so are a lot of things. Not addressing it directly does not make you unpatriotic or irresponsible. Effective governing is about picking your priorities and sticking with them until there is just cause to reassess them.

Worse, when being directly asked if you're for or against illegal immigration and stricter border control, most Democrats I've seen on TV are hesitating and vacillating. This is ugly, because it's very Kerry-esque and plays into the party persona that you live in a liberal echo chamber of hyper-empathy with no ability to be tough on policies that require enforcement.

Reframe the issue of immigration in terms of your priorities -- the issues that you believe are important.

First, sound direct in your response so it sounds like you're answering the question, but instead of answering, you sound like a patriot:
"Of course Democrats are against any illegal immigration. Most people and almost all businesses agree that immigration is critical to our economy, and continues to make America the best country in the world. It just doesn't make sense for something so important to our country to be so outside the law. Democrats are for updated laws to ensure that law-abiding immigrants are legal, and that people who come here just to exploit our country by selling drugs are shipped back to their home countries."

Next, turn this issue into a wedge that isolates the Republican Party on their failings in keeping America secure:

"There are numerous problems like immigration facing America today, and the number of problems is rapidly rising due to incompetent and misguided Republican management of this great nation. Yes, we're worried about Mexican immigration, but we're also worried about the immigration of dirty bombs through our unprotected ports, and we're worried about the immigration of terrorists through our underprotected airports. Democrats have proposed funding protecting our ports over and over again, and we support advanced technology to make flying safer, but this Republican congress has squashed all port reform bills sponsored by Democrats."

Essentially, you want to communicate that if Americans put Democrats in charge of any part of our government, you promise to focus on all of our immigration issues -- immigration issues that not only keep our country a great nation that invites new immigrants who want to live the American Dream, but "national security immigration" issues that will stop another 9/11 attack from happening.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Indy 2006


According to a recent Gallup Poll, one of the key challenges for this year's congressional elections is going to be maintaining the momentum in the evolving feelings of the independent (Indy) voter.

With the hugely effective rhetoric of the Bush Administration and the entire Republican Party since 9/11, Indies stepped off their perch and landed with Republicans in large numbers, believing that foreign policy toughness was required, and that Republicans were the kind of politicians that were going to kick ass and take names.

Many asses and not nearly enough names later, the Indies (who have less ideological allegiance and therefore are less emotional and more analytical in their voting preferences) see how these so-called tough guys overreached, overspent, and overkilled -- and now Indies want an overhaul.

A core component of your messaging strategy needs to focus on responding to this shift in independent voter thinking. Be the party designed to overhaul the party-in-charge by convincing your constituents that a Democratic majority in congress will provide the required oversight and competence needed to put this country back on the right track.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Republicans Have Had "One Too Many"


In order to break through this year, you're going to need some metaphors that instinctively resonate with a broad set of voters who have lost confidence Bush's administration.

One overarching theme must be the one too many attack: Why is voting for your local Democrat so important this year? Because Republicans have made one too many mistakes:

  • Their inability to manage the Katrina disaster
  • Their inability to manage the Iraq war
  • Their inability to see the problems with the United Arab Emirates running our ports

Combine these downright scary national security fumbles with the other blunders that they've made:

  • Nominating Harriet Myers for Supreme Court
  • Social Security reform fizzle due to a plan that had no credibility
  • Trying to turn NPR into FoxNews
  • Outing a CIA operative while at war
  • Being associated with corrupt lobbyists
  • Losing their leadership in the House due to corruption charges
  • One Republican congressman has already resigned over corruption

Plain and simply, Americans gave Republicans a chance to run the country because -- let's face it -- they sounded confident in their stump speeches. Unfortunately for America, these Republicans have made America look unprepared, incompetent, and weak around the world. They've split the country on the war on terror, and we simply cannot afford that. They've even made their own party shake their heads over their inability to keep government spending under control.

In the end, Republicans have made one too many mistakes to allow them to run the country without some serious oversight. This oversight will come from Democrats.

Sure, Democrats might not yet have a leader for the country, but at least they're smart, competent, and will work hard for the American people to ensure that this Republican administration stays in line for the next 3 years.

Republicans have had one too many, and now it's time to take some responsibility away from them. It's just the responsible thing to do.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Democrats: Rolling out your 2006 Brand

[apologies for the black out... a death in the family (who was an outstanding copy editor for OKR) temporarily put the blog on hold]


As you begin figuring out how to win back the majority in congress in the 2006 elections, Our Karl Rove will be launching a series of overarching, national party messages that are designed to resonate with voters this fall.

The goal of a national party message is not to define each candidate, but rather to create a brand that each candidate can effectively leverage to make them a more compelling alternative.

It's all about transforming "Democrat" from a brand that feels like a radical socialist or welfare recipient into a brand that feels more like responsible, competent, and respectable governance and leadership.

When a strong, meaningful brand has been designed t0 resonate with your target audiences, the brand becomes an effective asset that Democratic candidates can use to link their specific, local positions into something national, where Democrats currently have a brand advantage. From the constituent perspective, voters will intuitively use the brand to save time and energy in assessing what a candidate's specific value proposition is, and get a head start as they look into Democratic candidates' specific personal qualities.

It's a simple two-pronged plan: The national party defines the common themes that are well-researched and politically expedient. Once proven effective, local candidates will refer to and embody these themes as a backdrop for their local positions.

Remember: national party branding should enable your candidates, not disable them. This means divisive issues are a no-no. We need to keep them broad, generally appealing, and flexible enough for all kinds of voters.

Let's get to it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Branding Republicans


Usually, I spend my spare time worrying about how you brand yourselves. And, why shouldn't I? Your brand stinks. When people think "Democrat," they think of Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson, Howard Dean, and John Kerry. In other words, propagandists, opportunists, heretics, and flip-floppers, in that order.

But, as Republicans have learned through experience, it's easier to re-brand your foe than yourself in politics. And, what better time to start some baseline Republican re-branding just before the races heat up for the 2006 congressional elections? Let's keep it simple and give the public a bunch of easy one-liners to digest for the first 3 months. Once this base branding has been applied, we can flesh out the popular one-liners and expand in greater detail.

So, let the branding begin:

Republicans -- they spend our savings and tax your children
Republicans -- they think they know foreign policy... but do you
                               think it's working?
Republicans -- they'll bug your phone and track your web
                               searches... feel safe now?
Republicans -- they're not Big Government... they're Huge,
                               Corrupt, In Your Face Government
Republicans -- if they're pro-life, why are they pro-death penalty?
Republicans -- if they're so good at war, why are our troops dying                                every week?
Republicans -- bringing America down, one blunder at a time
Republicans -- the party that was determined to keep Terri
                               Schiavo alive
Republicans -- we gave them all the control, and look what they                                did with it
Republicans -- just when you thought that one party was good
                               enough for America
Republicans -- they need Democrats to keep them in line
Republicans -- over 5,000 American dead on their watch... and
Republicans -- they're sure they're right, even when they're dead
Republicans -- five years in control, and there is still no oil-free
                               energy plan?
Republicans -- my tax cut was nice, but it's all going to heat my
                               home and fill up my car
Republicans -- sponsored in part by Abramoff, the corrupt
Republicans -- absolute power corrupts absolutely
Republicans -- the party of self destruction in search of weapons of                                mass destruction

Take your pick, mash'em up, or come up with your own. I don't care. But start "beta testing" some one-liners and see what sticks. There is so much crap going on under Republican watch that it's just a matter of coordinated effort to find out what message is going to "click."

Go to it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Real State of the Union Response

President Bush's State of the Union Address was actually not so bad as Bush speeches go. He was as patronizing as ever on foreign policy, yet fairly blunt and visionary on domestic initiatives. The overall flavor was definitely conciliatory, designed specifically to appeal to voters who have switched off this administration as an ideological bully, out of control.

Democrats need to blunt this instrument of moderation, quickly. It's not enough to simply follow the polls and say "hey, the speech really didn't give him a significant bump," and just move on. The speech needs to be debunked, point by point, over and over. Why? Because Democrats need to nationalize the 2006 elections if you have any chance of winning back majority status.

On being isolationists:

"The only thing that is isolated here is the President of the United States. He has isolated America in our war on terror because of his Iraq Mistake."
On Iraq:
"Republicans have somehow turned the War on Terror into a Civil War in Iraq. Can we really trust this party to lead us to victory, when they have not yet caught Bin Laden, and instead are getting our men and women killed in an insurgency in Iraq? Iraqi insurgents can't attack America -- but we know Bin Laden can."
On Iran:

"This administration has let the real dangers -- Iran and North Korea -- get out of hand, while getting caught up in a Civil War in Iraq, which had no ability to harm us. This administration is responsible for the priorities they set, and they are to be held to account for their wrong-headed decisions."
On Russia:

"This administration has let Iraq distract America from serious security concerns, including nuclear weapons in Russia, combined with allowing Russia to turn their backs on democracy. How can this President talk about democracy around the world and let one of our allies fall back into a dictatorship?"
On the economy:

"The President talks about all the great jobs he's created. Have you seen them? The only jobs I see growing are low paying jobs. Republicans have let China invade our economy and strengthened our reliance on China for our economy."
On American innovation:
"We completely agree with the President on innovation being the cornerstone of the American economy and American dream. The difference here is that Democrats have a history of strategically using tax dollars to foster new ideas and innovations that have led to economic breakthroughs over the past century. The Republicans on the other hand, are more focused on sending the nation into debt so that we end up spending our money on interest payments instead of the Next Big Thing that will keep America's economy strong."
On oil:

"Democrats have seen the so-called oil addiction problem decades ago, and we have consistently implemented policies to reduce our reliance on foreign energy. Put Democrats back in the majority, and you can be assured that this promise is not just lip-service, but acted on."
On Social Security:

"We applauded the President's failure to destroy Social Security because it's clear that Americans want Social Security. You know and trust that Democrats will fix Social Security and not destroy it. We like personal accounts, but we like them like we like 401ks. 401ks didn't destroy Social Security, and neither should personal spending accounts."

On marriage:
"As you know, Democrats differ from Republicans in that we want to maximize individual freedoms. Republicans seem interested in limiting all kinds of freedoms, including who you can marry, and even when Terri Schiavo could die. We believe that Americans are moral, good people, and we see no need to legislate personal freedoms."
On spreading democracy abroad:

"We agree with the President that democracy and freedom is a human right that all people deserve. Where we don't agree with the President is how to attain and grow democracies. We just don't agree that bombing and killing thousands of innocent Iraqi bystanders is the right way to sway them into a democracy. We do not believe that telling all moderate Iranians to stay home on election day is the right way grow democracies. And we do not believe that watching Russia shut down its democratic systems is a way of growing democracies. So, while we agree with the President that democracy is good, all we see is failures in his ability to execute on this worthwhile goal."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Attacking the "Privacy-Gate" Road Show


The President, in trademark Rovian fashion, is taking an issue he's weak on and going on the attack to defend it. The thinking is (as it has for the past 5 years): turn any weakness into a strength by believing that your weakness is indeed a strength.

Don't let this tactic work again. Don't react in the traditional way, because this entire strategy is based on a traditional response. And, need I remind you... it has not worked.

After Bush starts giving his speeches across the nation, explaining how he is just doing what he needs to do to protect us from terrorists, you need to come out strong, loud, and untraditionally:

"The President is spending a week of his time trying to sell America on the fact that he needs to protect us. I can't think of a bigger waste of time for a President who is overseeing a long-term, costly war and picking up the pieces after his Katrina fiasco. Why? Because every American already agrees that we need the government to use the tools it has at its disposal to protect Americans from future terror attacks. Mr. President, you can go home now and work on the war and Katrina fiasco... we all agree with you. What Americans are concerned about, Mr. President, is that you have apparently decided that you are allowed to act like King George, not President Bush, because Kings don't need no stinkin' courts -- they just rule. Americans have given you a lot of slack in the war on terror, but no American wants a King, Mr. President. So, if you want to talk about changing your Constitutional role in our government, be my guest. Let's debate that this week."

"The President is obviously, once again, confused and in a bubble: the debate isn't about whether or not to use our intelligence tools to outmaneuver terrorists, the problem is that Americans expect our Presidents to follow the law, or challenge congress to change the law if the laws aren't good enough. Isn't that what the PATRIOT ACT was all about? If the President doesn't need to follow the law or the constitution, then why even bother renewing the PATRIOT ACT next month? Legal scholars from all parties agree that this President has overreached in his executive power, and it's time for him to stand down and promise court reviews of federal eavesdropping. Remember: this is about the President not even wanting to tell the courts after he eavesdrops."

"The President is trying to make this a choice for Americans: either he is above the law or you are not safe. This is utter crap. Americans deserve better than this so-called "choice." If we're not going to follow our Constitution, why should Iraqi leaders follow theirs? If we're going to hand over our democracy because of fear of terrorists, then have they already won? We must not let the terrorist win. Therefore, we must keep to our Democratic values and require court oversight for every eavesdropping initiative, as it is stated in our laws. If the laws need adjusting, then adjust them, Mr. President. Why aren't they in the PATRIOT ACT anyway, Mr. President? What laws are you bound by, Mr. President?"

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Debating "Privacy-Gate"


You're letting the Republicans, once again, define and debate the "Privacy-Gate" scandal on the White House's terms. Stop it. This administration liberally interprets the U.S. Constitution to suit their unbridled expansion of executive power, and lies to the American people saying that they don't wiretap without court approval. There is no parsing of this that doesn't implicate this administration of abusing power to the point of Constitutional Corruption.

The Democrats I've heard trotted out to fight this battle have been pretty lame -- they are being sucked into the debate of "what would you do to protect Americans from terrorists, hmm?" This is not the debate. The debate is whether Americans will or will not trade in our Democracy to overcome our enemies. Don't get caught up in the Republican-devised faux-debate. Ignore their attempts, and re-focus on the matter at hand.

Some talking points to roll out:

  • This President says he's spying on you to protect you. Just let that sink in.
  • The President says he knows he's acting within the laws and the Constitution. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this President has said something that is patently false.
  • If spying on Americans without due process is part of this administration's strategy to win the war on terror, then we clearly need a new strategy and new leadership, because now it sounds like we're losing.
  • This administration has now admitted that they are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Democrats believe winning the war on terror means more than just being at war forever -- we're only winning if we're not trading in our standard of living and democratic values.
  • Spying on Americans without due process is about as un-American as it gets.
  • If the President of the United States doesn't respect our system of government enough to follow the laws, then he should resign.
  • How many impeachable offenses and abuses of power are we going to stand by and watch until we decide enough is enough with this President?

Notice how none of these talking points dive down into the nitty gritty details of what is -- and what is not -- legal, constitutional, moral, and the like. This is by design, and is a contextual augment. If you want to create a groundswell of support for your position, best not to get mired in the details. Keep it at an executive, contextual level, with your integrity and moral indignation as the topic.

Don't get me wrong - you definitely need to know the details to give you the authority and integrity to justify your moral indignation. But just because you know the details doesn't mean you need to communicate them to the general public as part of your message.

Facts are much less important until they have proper context, so focus on how low this administration is willing to go in order to "win" - and portray it as a sign of weakness. After all, everyone knows that if you're willing to give up your values in a fight, you've already lost.