On Mad Men, the AMC television series about a small advertising agency in the 1960s, the agency just landed the Jaguar account. To do so, they had to figure out how to create a US market for an unreliable, overpriced, foreign-made, unnecessary sports car and compete against much larger and more established agencies doing the same thing. In the story, the car wasn't even reliable enough to assist the humiliated Lane Pryce commit suicide, but the agency figured out how to sell it. Their winning pitch equated the car with a mistress, and the hook like was "at last something beautiful you can truly own." With this strategy, the agency narrowed it's target and created a demand for something that would not benefit most people. That's exactly what Republicans do and why they win.

First, Republicans don't really have to get out the vote. Their target market, mostly white older people, vote anyway. They're already registered and vote without being pressed. All Republican candidates have to do is create a need and seemingly fulfill it. In contrast, Democrats are constantly having to battle the increasingly onerous voter registration rules and begging youth and minorities to get out and vote. Greens are still fighting name recognition battles and the probably correct notion that a vote for their candidates is a wasted vote.

Second, Republicans get a lot of free, or more correctly characterized, already purchased, press. Here in IL-10, the press will call a Republican a moderate for one or two procedural votes and a tone slightly down a notch from the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. AllIL-10 Rep, Bob Dold, had to do to become an environmentalist, after a long year of anti-environment votes, was to stand on a bucket lift. The local media ate it up.

Third, Republicans get a lot of money just for being Republicans and supporting people with a lot of money. Now under Citizens United, they get even more money, and they spend that money on advertising. They can flood the networks with attack ads against their opponents. The multiple amputee war hero, Max Cleland, became a terrorist in a flash because some modern day Don Draper figured out that all he had to do was merge Max's picture with that of Osama bin Laden. They found a soft spot (post 9/11 fear), created an unfounded fear (the ridiculous notion that Max Cleland had anything to do with Osama bin Laden), and then proposed a cure (their own candidate who probably had no special idea on how to protect Americans from terrorism). It's just like selling mouth wash or deodorant and their target audience, older white people, spend a lot of time in front of their television sets, so it all works well.

So, where do liberals, progressives, Democrats and Greens go from here? I'd suggest that they get with the program and scrounge up every single penny they have on market research and advertising. As local IL-10 activist, Gregory Mysko, has pointed out, "Republicans have their sociopath billionaires. The Democrats have Hollywood. Who was missing in Wisconsin?"

Over the years, Republicans have mounted a strategic initiative to embarrass Hollywood out of the Democratic Party while insisting that the Koch Brothers were just fine. We need to stop worrying about their rules about which rich people belong in politics and which do not because they set their rules by right vs. left, not out of any sense of right and wrong. We need to put Hollywood back into the race and be unapologetic about it. Clooney bowed out for a long time feeling that his support hurt candidates, but then he saw the light and bowed back in. He was right to do so, but is pretty much only supporting Obama at this point. We needed him in Wisconsin. We also need Streisand, Sanradon, Hanks, Damon and Baldwin and we shouldn't be shy or embarrassed about it because Republicans want us to be shy and embarrassed about it, but they are never shy or embarrassed. Hollywood's money is no worse that that of the Kochs or Ricketts. They get it from the same place, consumerism and advertising.

Then, once we get serious money, we need to stop spending it on phone banks, events, rallies and yard signs and start spending it on the real world version of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce (the low-tech rope worked just fine). Wisconsin did not need radio talk show host, Ed Schultz's persona at some feel-good rally taking pictures with grassroots volunteer precinct workers from Chicago. Wisconsin needed his money, strategically spent on ads targeting the mainstream people who get out and vote.

Then, liberals and progressives need to find the soft spots to build on, create the need and provide the cure like good Mad Men. Republican control over middle class and working class whites is still probably fairly tenuous because they don't really do anything for them, but make them feel temporarily superior to younger people and minorities. There are surely soft spots that can be exploited among the target market of those who already vote. One soft spot might be taxes as the middle class is taxed far more than is the 1%. It might be unemployment insurance as more older workers are cut loose by corporations. It might also be the inconvenience of the police state, all the searches, spying, privacy intrusions that really don't protect anybody. It might be the ruin of neighborhoods through foreclosure or the loss of stock portfolios due to lack of regulation. Maybe we need commercials merging Mitt Romney's face with pink slips and foreclosure notices. For the IL-10 race, Bob Dold's face can be merged with the skull and crossbones to symbolize his years as the lobbyist for the National Pest Management Association in its quest to bring toxic pesticides to the public schools. However, this should all be researched and focus grouped before implemented and that takes money.

Some of you will be shocked by this proposal, or feign shock in the case of Republicans who are just fine with all this stuff when it's done by their party, but this is what's been going on for a long time. The only difference is that liberals and progressives haven't been in the game that's already going on. I'm just suggesting that we get in the game and do it better than the opposition.



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