There has been a lot of buzz about Democrat Randy Bryce, an ironworker who has decided to challenge Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, because of this commercial (while I don’t usually post video, this really is worth the 2:30):
While much of the discussion has focused on Bryce being an ironworker, the gist of the ad is what is truly compelling: if Republicans aren’t stopped, my mother could die. It resonates with a lot of people (including people who happen to be mothers themselves). This message also stems from honest conviction, as there is a sense of urgency to it.
During many Democratic campaigns, including Clinton’s 2016, it’s often hard to figure out why someone is running. What is ‘the elevator pitch.’ Well, there’s no question as to Bryce’s motivation for running. It definitely provides the much-vaunted authenticity. And it will resonate–and has so far nationally–because it speaks to a desperation a lot of people feel. Too many Democratic officials have lost that sense of desperation and urgency (and some never had it to begin with). Urgency allows you to take the high road (‘help people’) while simultaneously appealing to people’s lizard brains (‘don’t kill my mom!’)*.
Say what one might about Sanders, his brother at the DNC convention summed up his motivations rather succinctly:
They [Sanders’ parents] did not have easy lives and they died young. They loved the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and would be especially proud that Bernard is renewing that vision.
When that does motivate you, it comes through (and unless you’re suffering from Sanders Derangement Syndrome, it’s clear that this is what drives the guy).
Conviction, tinged with a little bit of desperation, matters. And it can’t be faked.
*I’ll write more about this in another post, but one issue Democrats have is they can’t close out elections. If it’s the ninth inning, and they’re up by one run, they lose. It has to do with an inability to build positive messages about Democrats and negative messages about Republicans that reinforce each other. The positive message early lays the groundwork for the late ‘Republicans are going to kill your Mom!’ message you pull out with a week to go. Appeal to the lizard brain–after all, it’s what is getting people out to yell at Republicans at townhalls.