With the thumping victory of Boris Johnson and the Tories in last week’s election — they added (as of this posting) 48 new seats to achieve a stunning 78-seat majority in Parliament — nerves on this side of the Atlantic immediately began tingling: What does this portend for Democrats in 2020?
While it’s difficult to compare a parliamentary system with our representative system, a review of the campaign itself that Johnson and conservatives waged yields some takeaways for Democrats as they seek to defeat Donald Trump next year.
One: In the U.K. campaign, Johnson honed a simplified, if not simplistic message.
Johnson simplified his message — “Get Brexit Done”: finally, get Britain out of the European Union — and he wielded it like a sledgehammer, literally. In a widely-reported stunt, Johnson drove a road-grader through a Styrofoam wall — getting Brexit done, crashingly. The message resonated with a public exhausted after three-and-a-half years of parliamentary wrangling over implementation since passage of the referendum.
Takeaway for Democrats: Craft a simplified, overarching message — like, say, corruption. So polarized are we Americans now— in the ongoing impeachment process, we see Republicans’ embrace of Trump becoming cult-like — that nuance goes nowhere. Campaign 2020 will be conducted by bludgeon. Trump’s bludgeon against Democrats, we can guess; his repertoire is actually quite small. But Democrats need to craft their own bludgeon, and in messaging, simplified is good; it can also be deep. How about: “Down With Corruption!” — something bigger than policy, to capture the comprehensively corrupt Trump. Just as Boris Johnson did with Brexit, Democrats should exploit the severe Trump-fatigue afflicting more than half the country. “Enough with the lies!” Democrats must remind Americans that corruption and lying are not normal.
Two: In the U.K. campaign, the opposition Labour party was tagged as “radical.”
Since the high-water mark of Tony Blair’s “New Labour,” the party has become more and more extreme, led by an avowed Marxist, Jeremy Corbyn. In this campaign, Corbyn pledged to nationalize a slew of industries and boost spending on social services by boosting taxes on the wealthy to stratospheric heights. Additionally, Corbyn did little to curb the anti-Semitism that crept into Labour discourse flowing from his party’s fierce anti-Israel…