Passion is great. It moves us to elation. It moves us to tears. It definitely moves social media. It can get you on the television, and it can make your husband smile. What it cannot do is predict how people will vote.
Writing this column has been an education for me. People who I thought were radicals, turned out to be quite moderate, and people who I thought were moderates turned out to be quite radical. With any given column, I hear from a wide assortment of readers who want to tell me how they really feel “off the record.” Of course, I honor those conversations with absolute confidentiality, but their insights have given me a rare understanding of what Nebraska Democrats are really thinking.
The most surprising thing I've noticed is how fundamentally off social media is in predicting their views. I’ll write a piece, admittedly driven by something I see trending on social media, and it falls flat. Of course, it might be I did a poor job of writing, but over months of testing this hypothesis, I’m pretty sure, I’m right. Democrats are a thoughtful, dare I say careful, group of people. They don’t jump on the bandwagon easily. They have their traditional “liberal” way of looking at things, and they aren’t particularly moved by the passions of the moment. Some certainly are but not the great majority.
That is very problematic given the fact that increasingly the news media and campaigns are basing their strategies and tactics on what is trending on social media. In other words, we know that less than five percent of social media users are driving the media perception of almost everything, and they are increasingly wrong about what the people are thinking.
Joe Biden is our hope, but in large part because of the passions of the moment he is being forced into a corner by two increasingly disparate factions that, should either bolt in their support, we’re looking at four more years of the World According to Trump.
Right now, Social Democrats, Antifa and Black Lives Matter are driving the Democratic Party narrative, but a significant majority of the Party disagrees with their positions. That majority is strikingly silent right now. They are afraid to speak their mind, but they do not agree with the outspoken narrative. And their silence is falsely conveying the impression that they support the louder narrative.
The truth is that while the overwhelming majority of Americans were outraged by what happened to George Floyd and supported the peaceful protests that followed, that majority flipped in the days that followed in response to the protests turning violent. Over the past two weeks, I have tracked the strong disagreement growing in our Party ranks against these protests, particularly among my African American friends. They do not like what is going on, and they are frightened at what might happen. If this continues, we will lose votes.
Right now, various protests are popping-up around town and around the country, but the effort has reached a point of diminishing returns. People are tired of the protests and want them to end, but emboldened by the attention they have gotten thus far, the protesters are pressing on. If they continue, they will drive away the constituencies that are essentially on their side. I'm reminded of the woman in Minneapolis who shouted loudly at the protesters "I am on your side!" as they looted and trashed her store.
It is a simple fact that the majorities have flipped. What was about 75 percent in favor of thoughtful and peaceful protest, has now become around 75 percent opposed. Like it or not, agree with it or not, the voters are equating continuing protests with the radical rioters around the country, and less than 15 percent of Americans nationally support their actions. They are not helping our cause. They are hurting it and may completely destroy it.
In general, I stand with the more radical reformers in Omaha and around the nation. I believe we are in dire need of systemic change, but I believe it must come through democracy and the support of the people. I fear my more radical brethren have lost faith in democracy and favor revolution. While many, maybe even a majority agree with their motivation, they starkly disagree with their tactics, and they will find themselves dramatically alone when the troops eventually march.
The time has come to quiet the storm and consolidate support around our nominee and our Party leadership. If we do not, the outcomes will be catastrophic.
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