Winning on issues

At Communities Digital News this week, I opined that Democrats and their left-tilting interest group allies are probably hard at work on issues that straddle the line between news and pop culture to identify voters early on who might be receptive to campaign messages next year. The article talks about wages, religious freedom, and police-involved shootings as the primary opportunities.

If it hadn’t been for the Rolling Stone debacle, the broad umbrella (no pun intended) of women’s issues might make the list – and it might still, once the concern over shoddy journalism evaporates.

The point is, grassroots campaigns need hooks that bring in voters who wouldn’t otherwise show up. Whichever side does a better job finding and using them will have an easier time of it next year.

Terrorism. Racism. Unions.

We have heard plenty of criticism of political activists in the past week.  Their methods were likened to terrorists and their tone, we were told, had echoes of the racism.

Surely those critics will be just as vocal in denouncing the California labor unions who have been trying to scare voters away from signing referendum petitions, right?

The Golden State’s finances are anything but, and unions are likely worried about the types of reform movements that gripped other states with budget woes (like New Jersey and Wisconsin).  There are real possibilities that those reforms could be enacted by ballot referenda.  And so, there are not one but two campaigns working to squash ballot measures before they even get on the ballot.

The California chapter of the SEIU’s Think Before You Ink laughably blames ballot initiatives for “silencing the voices of working Californians” through ballot initiatives.  You read that correctly: the SEIU says that allowing voters to vote on referenda silences voters.

More insidious is Californians Against Identity Theft, which tells voters to stay away from petitions on the flimsy premise that signing risks identity theft.  Petitions, of course, require voters to share their name and address – in other words, most (but not all) of the information that can be found in a phone book, if anyone uses those anymore.

CAIT gets more unhinged the more you dig.  Check out this image from the website masthead:

It looks like someone found LSD, Red Bull, and Photoshop in the same weekend and had a bad trip.  And if that’s not enough, listen to their radio commercial, which suggests that felons straight out of San Quentin are patrolling the Ralph’s parking lot, preying on your phone book information.  And they might even send your information to (gasp!) India.  Who knows what those Indians will do with it? the ad intones ominously.

CAIT is comically over the top; it is also a deceitful effort that plays on identity theft concerns and racial tensions to suppress voters from participating in democracy.  The SEIU “Think Before You Ink” campaign is less egregious, but just as dishonest.  Both are founded on the basic premise of sabotaging democracy.

Common Cause certainly knows it’s wrong, though Vice President Joe Biden has yet to liken the organized labor goons behind it to terrorist.

Crossposted at

Whew, that was close!

A little over a week ago, President Obama launched his relection bid the way he announced his first campaign – with a YouTube video.  The video highlighted campaign volunteers in an effort to stress the grassroots nature of his campaign (which will still of course be run from the White House).  This continued on the Organizing for America blog, which has done little else but highlight volunteers re-enlisting.

But while they were getting the band back together on a mission from God, Washington, D.C. was breaking out with shutdown fever.  Congress and the President didn’t reach a budget deal until late into the evening on Friday, and OFA was nowhere to be found.

For Republicans, the President apparently could not have announced at a better time.  With OFA focused on the re-election campaign, there was no one beating the bushes for grassroots action in the week leading up to the deadline deal.  Just as Republicans have been wasting the buzz around Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity video, OFA sacrificed a chance to score major points.

As the deadline for a shutdown grew nearer, well-timed pressure on wavering GOP lawmakers might have helped the Democrats come out of the first budget battle a bit stronger than they did.  As the Obama 2012 campaign kicked off, OFA lost focus.

The Republicans should be prepared to fight a little harder during the next budget battle, because chances OFA won’t miss the opportunity again..

Do you still get this joke?

FedEx is spending lots of money on online advertising hammering away at an proposed regulatory change that would benefit UPS.  Using the parlance of our times, they are calling it the “Brown Bailout” – since the term “bailout” has such high negative connotations.

I’ve criticized this campaign before for tactical flaws – many of which have been corrected in the year since it launched.  And the people in charge of the campaign messages have always done a good job of explaining a complex issue completely in a simple – and funny – way with great videos.

But here’s the rub: those videos, while once effective, are outdated.  Those UPS whiteboard commercials are two or three years old, and the company has moved to an ad campaign which highlights “logistics.”  If FedEx’s government affairs division wanted to really hammer UPS, the new ads are quite mockable.

By recycling a year-old campaign, FedEx is taking a shortcut.  It would be like bringing a knife to a gun fight – but luckily for them, UPS is bringing a whiffle bat.  In the year and a half since FedEx has been running the Brown Bailout campaign, the best UPS could muster is this visually thrilling online press kit that could serve as that antidote to caffeine scientists have been searching for: