Anger can motivate
I would love to say that joy is what drives people to the ballot box. I know it happens at times, that people get excited and fall truly in love with a candidate. I can think of several times I have joyously voted for a candidate and just been over the top excited about what it meant to elect them to office.
Still, it is far more often when I talk to voters that the reason why they choose to vote is because they are angry. We love to say that anger is the problem with elections, but in academic studies we find that angry voters show up and cast ballots. It is motivating when there are issues that anger voters and demand their attention.
One of the things that we can see worked for Trump is that he motivated angry voters. Angry that they weren’t getting ahead. Angry because of racist ideas. Angry about perceived slights. Whatever it was, he reached out through anger and motivated them to turn out.
Off-year election cycles are normally bad for the party that holds the presidency. People are angry at anything that doesn’t go right, and that anger turns into votes.
We are not the party in power
We need to make this very clear, immediately. The party in power takes blame for actions. Despite control of the House, Senate and White House, the Democratic party does not control many state legislatures, governors, and we certainly have little voice inside of the Supreme Court. In order to get there we will need to make serious changes.
This means we need to win races this fall, and turnout is going to be critical. Virginia is showing the way as Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin raced after the Supreme Court announcement to back a 15-week ban in Virginia.
There are two outcomes to feeling angry about results: You give up, or you fight harder. In order to make lasting change, you pivot the anger into actual action. We have to focus on the fact that when we have chances to change things, we must take it.
How do candidates talk about the issues?
Let me be clear: There is no ground right now for triangulation. For every Democratic candidate on the ballot, they represent the only thing that stops criminalization of abortion. I want to say that again: criminalization. I’ve met Democratic candidates in tough districts who try to navigate issues like guns and abortion by saying they are more conservative or that they want a “middle road.”
Republicans will not respond to any of those points. If you are not pure on those issues, you are lost. If you are a vote for Democratic leadership in the House or Senate of your state or federal legislative bodies, you are endorsing abortion and gun responsibility.
Being quiet has one real result: It demotivates your voters. They want to know you are as angry as they are, and that you are not okay with the results. Being passive or wishy-washy will not win you votes. Be angry. Sometimes things are not okay. Embrace that. Show it. Make it clear to others that you recognize things are not okay.
If you are part of a campaign or you are a candidate, you need to be ready to show the voter that they have a place to put their anger, and it is into supporting your campaign.
Are you angry? Are you letting others know? If this isn’t the moment you should rush out of the locker room tearing the doors off to get to the ballot box, then I know of no other moment in the last several decades.
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