Yesterday, the surprising Congressional election result in Pennsylvania was all the talk on TV news outlets. Perhaps prematurely, there is a growing belief that this portends a wave election in November, quite possibly throwing the House back into Democratic hands. So their spokespersons in particular were all over the TV happily discussing their prospects. But as I watched, a bit skeptically I must admit, I had a bit of an epiphany.
I remember surfing to Hillary’s web site when she was the Presidential candidate to see what policies she was promoting. Adopting a progressive viewpoint, these seemed fairly sensible and the usual fare. There was a long list of ideas, policies and program proposals. Very long – and therein lies the epiphany.
Think about those having financial problems or fearful about the future for themselves and their families. They could scan down this list and find something to latch onto at, say, item 12 and perhaps items 31 and 32. But there was all this other “stuff” about things that seemed nice but not on point. Can you blame them from coming away from this feeling that their issues were just not that important to Hillary?
Having an abundance of great ideas is actually a failure to focus!
Candidates and their party leaders need to take a risk. They should identify perhaps 4-5 main issues and hit them hard, relentlessly and virtually exclusively. That will omit some things that are important to portions of their base, but that is essential to having discernible clarity and purpose. Failure to follow this rule afflicts both parties, but I think Democrats tend to be the greater transgressors.
If you think about it, isn’t that what Donald Trump did? I think this contributed mightily to putting him over the top.
Of course, all the other issues will come up from time to time in interviews and on the stump. There’s nothing at all wrong with promoting your campaign’s ideas when this happens. But everything can’t be a big deal. It’s possible to have a big tent without having a section marked off for every special interest in it.