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Wed, July 17

Column: Knock, Knock? Hey, Democratic leaders!

Knock, knock! Hello? Is anybody in there? Hey Democratic leaders, we’re out here marching in the streets. Are you being quiet because you’re busy planning behind closed doors? You’re about to burst out here any second now and join us? And add the top-down piece to our bottom-up piece, right? Hello?

There should be multiple, major, Democratic office-holders at most of these biggest marches and events. They shouldn’t lead them because they are grassroots events, but they should be very visible and vocal. And they should be having their own events. And what should they be saying? Three things:

1: They messed up, partly in policy, partly in messaging, partly in not being serious enough.

2: They get it now. They will be taking steps, with vigor, non-stop.

3: They will be real steps. None of this saying how you sympathize with demonstrators and then go away and do nothing different and assume you’ve got the demonstrators’ votes. To heck with you. My vote is worth more than that. It’s not going to anybody who isn’t legislatively storming the gates.

And none of this Congressional gamesmanship just for show for the voters. Like, ha, ha, let’s propose a bill declaring all grandmas are wonderful but tie it to a provision to double the funds for Obamacare and then watch the GOP vote it down. That’s showmanship for crap. I know you can’t do much while the GOP are blocking, but you can send a message, that if obstruction were out of the way you would tilt the field radically away from Wall St. and toward workers. You can propose real and powerful changes, which, yes, will get blocked in Congress, but which show what you would do. That’s showmanship for real. Elizabeth Warren can’t do much now either, but we have no doubt that she would enact serious change, and that it’s not just some brief bit of theater for votes. This is her ceaseless, all-consuming cause. Take a lesson.

Have you missed the fact that you have very little time to act? Things happen fast these days. Big, unexpected changes happen. Trump is messing up now. Demonstrators are in the streets now. For as many of the Trump supporters as will ever get it, the dawning that he’s just going to favor the rich is already starting. The wave that could bring Obama voters back, that could lead to taking back the Senate and maybe even that crazy long-shot the House, that wave is rolling past now.

Have you missed the fact that there are only 24 months between last November’s election and the 2018 midterms? That four have already passed? You need to have a convincing message in place at least two months before. And what is that message? That you’ve made this change and it’s real and it’s staying. People have to see that change being sustained for a while to believe it’s permanent. That, “Oh! They’ve really changed!” realization needs time to seep into peoples’ minds. You have about an 18-month window in which to do that, which means it really needs to happen now, and then be sustained so it can seep in. Tick, tick, tick!

Are you waiting for an engraved invitation? Already been done. Bernie engraved it in headline after headline. For that matter, so did Trump. He engraved in lie after lie; populist lies about how he was going to turn the country away from bankers and toward workers. Lots of lies, but look at the crowds he drew. Between Bernie, and Trump, and Hillary failing because she didn’t grab that same message, if you haven’t gotten the message from all of that, I don’t think we can pound it into your heads any clearer.

If you aren’t breaking through the headlines every day, if you aren’t storming the legislative and PR gates with efforts at real change, you might as well head off now to start wandering in the woods with our dear Hillary. Now get off your butts and get out here.

(If you, dear reader, agree, you should send this to every Democratic official for your area.)

(An extended analysis of what Democratic leadership needs to do is with the links with this column online.)

Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at


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