Democrats are winning the message war | Steve Berman

In 2018, Stacey Abrams refused to concede her election loss to Gov. Brian Kemp. Even though she lost by over 50,000 votes—a recount-proof majority—Abrams claimed that Kemp, who was Georgia’s Secretary of State at the time, suppressed Black votes. 

She claimed that his purging of the voter rolls, in accordance with federal law, and thoroughly litigated at the time, with court rulings and lawsuits going back years, was in fact voter suppression. She claimed that the electronic touch-screen voting machines in use in Georgia permitted widespread cheating and ballot dumping of Black votes since there was no paper trail for each ballot (each machine printed a register-style tape of its tabulated results).

From 2017 through 2020, Democrats used targeted violence of fringe groups, large marches and gatherings, and encouraged harassment, doxxing, public shaming, and boycotts of businesses, politicians, and public figures (celebrities who dared) who supported, or simply failed to properly oppose, President Donald Trump. Every organ of the political left was bent to the purpose of defeating and removing Trump.

No crime against the truth was off-limits, including libel against innocents like high-schooler Nicholas Sandmann, whose only “crime” was mugging stupidly, wearing a MAGA hat, in the face of an agitator who played for the camera at the Lincoln Memorial.

From 2009 to 2016, Democrats, despite starting with the White House and both houses of Congress, and having a dream demagogue at their helm in President Barack Obama, failed at messaging. Their power grabs were forced and tinged with authoritarianism. Their propaganda machine produced stupidity like “pajama boy” and “cash for clunkers.” They were the party of jars filled with menstrual blood, ridiculous “Handmaid’s Tale” cosplay, and the irresponsible, personal, and the coprophilia-laced smearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh; the party of “believe all women” with Bill Clinton, Al Franken, and their enablers as featured defenders of women.

Fast forward to 2021. Nothing in the Democrats’ grab bag has changed. Cash for Clunkers is even back in the news, after President Joe Biden endorsed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plan reviving it. We’ve got Bidencare, which is Obamacare 2.0, and we’ve got Stacey Abrams 2018 claims of election fraud, except this time the Republicans are suffering message failure and Democrats are hitting home.

Because Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, in Georgia and in every contested state he needed to win, he would not admit actual defeat, and clung to much more far-fetched hysterical claims than simple suppression. Trump and his phalanx of conspiracy-flingers alleged actual hacking, ballot dumping, and every imaginable kind of massive election cheating. Especially in Georgia, the effects of this was to suppress Republican voters who believed their votes were an endorsement of the November results from voting in the January senate run-off. This, as much as anything else, handed an unlikely Senate majority to Democrats.

And the very next day, a large Trump-supporting attacked the Capitol building. If physical violence as a response to voter suppression charges doesn’t qualify as message failure, then nothing does.

Following this, the Georgia legislature had it in their mind to (a) strip the Secretary of State’s power to single-handedly make emergency decisions, finalize legal consent agreements, and act as the chair of the Georgia Election Board; (b) update election procedures to standardize early voting, mail absentee voting; and (c) close some giant holes in election procedures that allowed Democrats to organize ballot harvesting and pay-for-votes operations.

(Some Republicans in the legislature favored doing things that would be suppression, but those voices were not given much hearing except by the Democrats and Democrat-friendly media. The most severe restrictions on voting, like ending no-excuse absentee voting, did not make it into the final legislation, and the parts that did end up in the law were generally the most moderate versions of the legislature’s intent.)

Is it suppression to do these things? If you believe that Stacey Abrams really won in 2018, despite record Black and minority turnout for an off-year presidential cycle election, then you probably believe it is. That no longer matters, because the messaging is now being won by Democrats.

They have coordinated their “Jim Crow 2.0” message from the White House and Biden’s bully pulpit down to the county level. They’ve cowed and bullied cultural icons like Major League Baseball into punishing Georgia for adopting legislation making Georgia voting laws better than New York, Delaware and Massachusetts.

Georgia now has a new voting system with paper trail ballots, at least two Saturdays of early voting in every county, no-excuse mail voting, an eleven week window of electronic-based mail ballot requests, and processes to handle large numbers of mail ballots delivered by the USPS and through monitored, secure drop boxes. But from Democrats you’d think white redneck county bosses were waiting with bull whips and lynching ropes for Blacks to show up at the polls.

Democrats would not allow Georgia political authorities to investigate Fulton County, the most dysfunctional, politically corrupt, and incompetent election organization in the state. Donald Trump wanted Fulton County investigated (though it is unlikely 12,000-plus fraudulent votes would be found). The Fulton County Board of Elections fired the election supervisor, but was overruled and the dismissal vetoed by the Democrats on the county commission.

Nothing has changed in the Democrats grab-bag, but their messaging is winning. If Stacey Abrams was to run now and lose by 50,000 votes, you can be sure it will be because of voter suppression and widespread cheating, not because she lost fair and square. This is the result of one excellent, coordinated, and disciplined propaganda push.

Democrats have found their messaging sweet spot, with a president who will read whatever his handlers put on a briefing card or the TelePrompTer. Their propaganda is working. They are winning the messaging war, and Republicans now seem like the fringe, cosplay crazies that Democrats were in 2016.

If this doesn’t change soon, we’ll be praising the benefits of socialism, restricted speech, and the evils of religion. But like most political things, the pendulum will swing. The sad part is that the substance won’t change. Democrats never learn from their policy failures. They only practice better messaging.

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.

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