Look, there are things that everybody likes to hear, and things that nobody likes to hear. For example, everybody loves to hear that their tax refund check hit their account, but nobody wants to hear that their transmission is shot. And if you’re the bearer of tidings, your phrasing determines how much shit you get. Best bet is something like, Honey? Thank God your tax refund just hit the checking, because the shop says that the transmission is shot! Therein lies the wonder of messaging.
In 2009, Barack Obama also took over in the middle of a deep financial crisis, just without the virus. Like Biden, Obama shot out wads of cash and tax credits to infuse cash into the economy. But for all of his soaring rhetoric, Obama wasn’t much of a marketing man. The message got muddled, the GOP muddied it even more, and Obama and the Democrats never got anywhere even near full credit for all of the money they shipped out.
It was even worse for Obama’s signature legislation, The Affordable Care Act. First, the GOP easily won the branding war. They hit the proposal with snappy slogans such as socialized medicine, Canadian healthcare, and the ever popular Death Panels for Granny. The Democrats didn’t effectively counter the narrative, and it stuck. Worse, the most popular aspects of the ACA were phased in from years 3-5. As a result, the act’s popularity languished from years 1-3, and only started to rise when the most impactful benefits kicked in in years 4-5. The AA is now more popular than the GOP.
Biden and the Democrats are making no such mistakes. Pouncing on Trump’s moronic call for a $2000 stimulus vs the GOP’s paltry $600, the Democrats promised to make good on that deal. Ossoff and Warnock down in Georgia rose that horse to special election victories in January, making it possible for the Democrats to deliver on that promise. Also, Biden started hammering hone all of the benefits of the relief act, while the GOP was stumbling around flailing for a response.
Just as important, there is nothing phased in about any of the public facing benefits of the act. Stimulus checks are already out and in accounts. Teri works retail, and has been stuck at between 12-16 hours a week since the shutdown, fortunately still qualifying for unemployment. But her hours are starting to tick up, as the store gets slammed by shoppers with debit cards stuffed with stimulus cash. And my May or June, families will start seeing the monthly child tax credits being direct deposited every month. Biden is delivering on promises.
But there’s another, much better reason why 2022 will likely not be a repeat of 2010. I wrote about this once before, in passing, but it was just a concept then, and now there is polling public sentiment to back it up.
Since day one, Biden ran on a platform of restoring bipartisanship back into politics, and making Washington work for the people again. Which is exactly what they wanted to hear. The biggest bitch about politics is partisan gridlock, and Biden promised to restore bipartisanship and get things done. And by and large, he’s gotten it.
Just not in Washington. But remember, in politics, image is everything. The vast majority of Americans who live outside the beltway see politics through a much broader lens than pundits and reporters, they don’t measure politics solely through the US congress. After all, All politics is local.
While the House was crafting the relief bill, and the Senate tweaking it, Biden took it on the road. He held electronic town halls and video conferences with bipartisan groups of Democratic and GOP Mayors, directly explaining in real terms the benefits that this bill would bring directly to their communities and states. And those Mayors and Governors, long used to suckling at the hind teat of federal largesse, absolutely loved it! They became Biden’s best surrogates, where it matters the most, locally. Hell, how many times do you see a GOP West Virginia Governor publicly scream at his Democratic senior Senator to stop being such a dick, and spend some money? And to the vast majority of America, that. is. bipartisanship. Exactly what they’ve been craving for all of these years.
Here’s a perfect example of Biden’s mastery at branding bipartisanship. He recently made a trip to Georgia in order to tout his Relief act. And while he was at it, he retold the story of his election victory in Georgia in November. He reminded everybody that thanks to GOP obstruction, there were four separate recounts. And then he went on to praise the local, county, and state officials of both parties for having the honor and integrity to stand up to partisan political pressure and do the right thing, provide a fair and honest election result. I don’t think that those GOP county and state incumbents really wanted to be slapped with a bipartisan btrush, but tough shit. And it played well, it was an effective slap against Georgia’s new voter suppression bills up in the legislature.
Here’s how we know that Biden’s pitch is resonating and working. A couple of weeks ago, when the Senate was preparing to pass the Relief bill, Biden’s popularity was sitting at a healthy honeymoon cruise 54%. But the same poll, released a couple of days ago as checks were being sent and received, showed Biden had gotten a 2 point bump to 56%. That can only mean one thing. There are independent and GOP voters out there that like what they’re seeing in and from Joe Biden.
And Biden will do the same thing with the infrastructure bill. While it’s being crafted, he’ll once again take it directly to bipartisan groups of Governors and Mayors. And since it’s projected to be significantly larger than the Relief bill, if GOP Governors and Mayors liked that one, they’re going to have to start wearing Depends to the office for unexpected nocturnal emissions every time they think of that federal booty rolling in. They’ll start holding tent revivals to pressure their GOP incumbents to pass the damn thing.
In 2009 the Democrats muddled the stimulus message and never got credit for the good it did, and they got clobbered in the ACA messaging war, and got slaughtered in 2010. This time around, Biden shot out of the gate, claiming bipartisanship, and then using GOP support from outside of Washington DC as proof that he’s actually providing it, and that positive things are getting done. And it’s working, for one simple reason.
Because everyday Americans don’t give a shit about semantics. Pundits have been pointing out that Americans could care less how the Democrats passed the Relief bill, regular order or reconciliation. Just get it passed, and get them the money! And they’re right. As long as the checks go out, Biden can call it bipartisanship, or he can call it chicken chop suey, it’s all the same to us. It’s Jerry McGuire time baby, Show me da money!
And it’s killing Mitch McConnell because he has no offsetting message. Last week, Moscow Mitch actually took to the floor and darkly prophesied a scorched earth, Beyond Thunderdome desolation of the Senate if Biden and the Democrats didn’t stop fucking around and passing shit that he doesn’t like. Really? Stand up and take a bow, fool! You think that speech will be in 30 and 60 second spots next year against your incumbents? You keep right on making the exact contrast that Biden wants you to, you’re knocking it out of the park.
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