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Protest for Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO
The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO by police officer Darren Wilson may well be a tipping point in American political history. The ensuing Right versus Left war over the narrative in Ferguson made it clear that we cannot reason with conservatives and Republicans. They are so invested in their tribalism and Kool-Aid identity politics (in this case, the Scary Brown People narrative) that, presently, there's no chance of Republicans working with us to solve any big issues. Accordingly, Democrats and progressives may want to focus on the following three things:

1. Extoll progressive values
This one is easy, given how popular progressive values are in America. Whether it's affordable healthcare, equality for women and gay couples, fair treatment for young black males, sensible immigration reform, stronger gun safety laws such as universal background checks for purchases, raising the minimum wage or getting the government out of women's bodies, progressive positions on the issues have plenty of support and should be promoted. We will continue to do so.

2. Attack Republicans and conservatives
This one is easy too. For starters, since we're on the subject of Ferguson, we can push the true narrative that conservatism is racism. Just listen to what we heard in the wake of Michael Brown's shooting: There was Tea Party spokesman Samuel Wurzelbacher a/k/a Joe the Plumber, who wrote on his Facebook page the other day:

The best way to end the rioting and looting in Ferguson... Job Fair. They'll scatter like cockroaches when the lights come on!
No great imagination was needed to figure out who Wurzelbacher meant by "they." Likewise, conservative has-been actor Kevin Sorbo wrote on his Facebook page:
Ferguson riots have very little to do with the shooting of the young man. It is an excuse to be the losers these animals truly are.
Or how about Tea Party favorite Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who said in an interview on right wing Newsmax TV:
This idea of no racial profiling. I’ve seen the video. It looks to me like you don’t need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.
Note how conservatives cowardly hide their racism behind code words, but obviously, King wasn't referring to the continent of Europe.

The goal of steps 1 and 2 is:

3. Defeat Republicans and elect Democrats (hopefully more progressive Democrats)
This is the hard part. Electing more Democrats involves getting out the Democratic vote. No amount of feel-good rhetoric or attacks on Republicans and conservatives will accomplish a thing if Republicans still control the House of Representatives, comprise a healthy minority (or possibly even a tie or majority) in the U.S. Senate, and numerous governorships, state legislatures, school boards and courts. In the case of the courts, recall that the President gets to nominate judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, the U.S. District Courts and other federal courts when there are openings, so it is crucial to vote for Democratic Presidents and Democratic Senate majorities who can vote in the President's judicial picks.

Fortunately, after Ferguson, Trayvon Martin and many other Republican offenses, there are plenty of angry Democrats and progressives (and maybe some independents and undecideds) out there. How about telling them that if they are angry, they should vote? Our pitch might go something like this:

If you're angry about Ferguson, vote. If you're angry about Republicans treating President Obama with less respect than given to any previous U.S. President, vote. If you're angry about Republican hypocrisy over Presidents playing golf, vote. If you're angry about Republicans focusing on phony scandals like Benghazi instead of helping to create jobs, vote. If you're angry about Republicans playing the Scary Brown People card, vote. If you're angry about the Republican War on Women, vote.
You may know the rare Republican or conservative who is willing to debate and discuss issues with you in a sincere and somewhat reasonable way. By all means, we can continue our discussions with them and keep those channels of communication open. But we should not expect any major results, or much more than polite insults and counter-insults or barbs. Perhaps one day Republicans, currently in a political Death Spiral, will suffer enough electoral defeats at the national and state level that they will be forced to change tactics and work with Democrats to solve America's problems instead of just playing the hate game. Until such time, however, we're pretty much done engaging with the GOP.

Photo by kent williams, used under Creative Commons license.

[Originally posted at Messaging Matters. Copyright 2014 -- All rights reserved]

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