Do you think they realize how ridiculous their gestures look to people watching on television?”
I’ve been asking myself this a lot these days. Whenever Democrats make a public pronouncement or symbolic gesture to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with Donald Trump, their efforts often look awkward, shortsighted, even bizarre.
Take last month’s State of the Union address. Many female lawmakers in Congress wore white and sat together in the gallery to show their solidarity against the president.
On paper, that seems great. It shows unity. It’s a throwback to the Suffragettes. Those female members of Congress were very proud of this moment. But how did that look to the average American, tuning in because the annual address was the only thing on any channel?
It had to be strange. Why are these women sitting in their seats, scowling, and decked out in white while everyone else is cheering? Is this some weird throwback to the dystopian “Handmaid’s Tale”?
It’s hard to imagine the average SOTU viewer (who likely is not as aware of the current political bickering) understood what these women were trying to convey. In fact, it probably made that viewer think, “What a bunch of weirdos.”
The same goes for the Democratic Party’s response to Trump’s recent Oval Office address, in which he announced his plan to declare a national emergency and divert discretionary funding to begin construction on a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, gave a stiff, poorly choreographed presentation — with so much makeup that even Madame Tussaud’s would reject them as too phony to pass for exhibits in their wax museum — in response to Trump’s relatively statesmanlike announcement.
Could this pair of stern and sullen, elderly Democrats actually change minds? It was like the entire country had been called to the principal’s office for a scolding.
The latest example came last week when former Trump consigliere Michael Cohen testified on Capitol Hill before the Democrat-controlled House Oversight Committee. Every television network joined the coverage, which meant the hearing pre-empted daytime TV favorites “The View,” “The Price Is Right,” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital.”
“This will show Trump! The American people will finally see what a reprobate their president is and demand action!”
Ask yourself: Would you buy a used car from Michael Cohen? For most of us — Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, libertarian, anarchist, etc. — the answer would be “no.” Actually “heck no.”
Why would the average person, uncommitted to ideology or the political cult of personality, be swayed by anything Michael Cohen has to say? It’s not that he is a convicted felon. It’s that he just looks like a sleazebag.
Yet, Democrats persisted.
The most glaring example of this optics shortcoming from Democrats was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. On paper, Clinton was our girl: a former U.S. Senator, former secretary of state and a former first lady. Darn it, it was time to elect a woman president of the U.S.! And it seemed like most pundits and establishment-dwellers were on board with that message.
However, decades of public spotlight and some troubling stumbles along the way — including the Sept. 11, 2016, ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City — were too much for Clinton to overcome. She lost, and there are people who still don’t understand it.
Why? How? “It had to be sexism!” “Maybe it was the Russians!” “It was those damned racist deplorables in flyover country!” “It was the flawed Electoral College!”
Clinton lost for a variety of reasons. The 2016 presidential election has been Monday morning quarterback ad nauseam at this point. But one of the elucidated reasons had to do with how the public actually saw Clinton. How Clinton and her stiff attempts at mass appeal (when she clearly viewed the masses as inferior) appeared to the public.
Does that make it right? Is it justifiable?
No, but that is how many people function. It’s a reality. Elections are still won and lost, be it for the right and wrong reasons. And a lot of people just didn’t see Hillary Clinton as a president, much less somebody they would want to spend time with.
We live in a very superficial world. For now, that is an undeniable truth regardless of what we’re told by our elected officials in Washington, our pop culture celebrities in Hollywood or the marketing gurus on Madison Avenue in New York City.
That’s not to say that, over time, this won’t change and people will see things differently. But for now, Democrats can’t rely on what they assume Americans should believe.
Once you try to impose beliefs on people, you start to lose people, especially in an individualistic society. And as we know, elections are won by addition, not subtraction.
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