I’m a Ted Strickland fan. We are both graduates of the Asbury College. What follows is part of a letter that I recently sent to his campaign. (Below the letter is a record of my history of urging candidates to make their campaigns all about democracy.)
The theme of your campaign is that as senator you will “fight for working people.” The problem is, the plight of working people fails to generate the fear / anger needed to motivate a lot of voters. You should consider focusing on a bigger, more comprehensive fear / anger.
We can learn a lot from Trump supporters. They seem very angry and, mostly, they are angry that the system is rigged. This anger is becoming pervasive within the citizenry — not just Trumpets. You should tap into this anger and acknowledge that yes, the system is rigged and that you have a plan how as senator you could have a big impact on making the system work better.
Trump supporters like the fact that Trump is a bully. He gets big cheers when he makes his bullying boast: “And Mexico is going to pay for it.” His bully POV is revealed in his response to what he would do if the military refused an illegal order: “Oh they will. Believe me. They won’t refuse.”
Your opportunity is to use the Trump phenomena to discuss how fragile our constitutional democracy is and how we are in danger of losing it. You should address the fear and anger within the citizenry — that Trump supporters point to — and show that the approach of a bully will only make things worse. We need strong leadership that empowers citizens to make our constitutional democracy work as it should. Consider a message something like this:
Our constitutional democracy is broken and unless it can soon be fixed, we are in great danger. Unless it is repaired, we are headed for disaster.
The advent of Donald Trump reminds us that history demonstrates that a dangerous power vacuum is created when democracies fail to solve problems. People eventually give up on democracy and turn to strongmen to whom they give dictatorial authority.
The future will swallow our system of constitutional democracy unless it is somehow made much stronger. Unless we can make a correction, Trump is delivering the message that we will soon pay a huge price for the gerrymandering, corruption, money-soaking of our system.
How can we make our constitutional democracy stronger? Ted Strickland has a plan. Ted will offer strong legislation dealing with campaign finance, free TV time for candidates, gerrymandering, and civics education. He will organize his senate office to be a model of transparency, a model of citizen communication / engagement. He will use his time and budget to help strengthen civics education and citizen engagement.
To back up this message, consider developing five new sections to your website. Each of these sections should show clearly how your views contrast with Portman’s. Put a big emphasis on the federal budget — the place where planning for the future will be won or lost. Portman’s embrace of the Ryan Budget provides a big opportunity — if we can get the public to start talking about the budget.
To generate interest, consider adding a discussion forum to each section — limited to participants who use their real names and who are verified to be registered Ohio voters.
- “Understanding the Federal Budget and the Ryan Budget Proposal”
- “What Ohioans Agree About”
- “The Challenges of the Future.”
- “Legislation To Strengthen Our Constitutional Democracy”
- “My Promise To Constituents”
I believe in you. I’m proud of you and I’m fervently hoping for your election to the U. S. Senate. I hope these suggestions are helpful.
Sincerely, Mike Bock — graduate of Asbury College in 1969
My history of urging a message concerning democracy
The campaign for City Council or Mayor should not focus on which candidate is in favor of a Dayton Sportsplex or how Dayton garbage collection can be improved. We need to get the citizenry to look at the big picture. My advice is to not focus on the smaller parts and, instead, take the perspective of the big picture. In the big picture, it is obvious that our system is failing. The answer to our problems is a system answer. I’ve frequently quoted W. Edwards Deming’s big insight that 85% of quality problems in a system stem from how the system is organized — not from the individuals in the system, nor individual components in the system. (See my article, “How Can The System Known As The United States Be Made To Work To Provide “Liberty and Justice For All?“)
We must remember that it is the message that is of central importance, not money. …Here is the diagnosis I would encourage Dr. Mark to make: Our democracy is in trouble. The failure of our economy, the failure to create jobs is a system failure. Our system of democracy is failing and we need representatives dedicated to making democracy work.
Importantly, to gain credibility you must show a plan for leadership that, if elected, you will implement. Such a plan would show, for example, how the work of congress would be made transparent and understandable. It would show a strategy to encourage public discussion and public education about matters of civic importance. Such a plan of your intentions would make a vivid contrast to the record of Turner’s behavior. In summary, here is my unsolicited advice: In these last few weeks, make your message the fact that you are passionate about democracy.