Biden and Democrats: Climb into your Bully Pulpit, connect with the American people

As we watch the Democrats failing to match the Republican’s strategies in reaching and influencing the American people, the word to them must be: “it’s the Bully Pulpit, stupid!”

Image Credit: Time Magazine

Based on the almost dead silence on the part of Democrats, one would think that they have conceded that this is going to happen and, so, it appears they may have “thrown in their towels.”

Let’s hope that’s not the case and, in this discussion, we will offer up some advice to get them moving, to jump-start their efforts.

To begin with, let me throw some strong criticism at them to get this process started, saying: “That’s the way Democrats, let the Republicans take over in November, don’t fight, don’t do everything you can to reach Americans with your message; just let Republicans dominate the situation with their lies and misinformation. 

Well, that’s enough criticism, for now, so let’s talk about the positive things that Democrats need to do to turn this situation around, to strongly connect with the American people, and drown out the Republicans’ messages of hatred and divisiveness. It won’t be easy but it can be done. 

In the above title, I state that Democrats need to climb into their Bully Pulpit. But I’d say most Democrats have no idea of what a Bully Pulpit is, let alone where it is, and how to use it. President Biden should know what it is and how it is used. It looks like he is beginning to use it relative to the war in Ukraine as well as in his explanations about domestic issues, like inflation. But he needs a massive amount of help.

What exactly is a Bully Pulpit? This from Wikipedia: “This term was coined by United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to his office as a “bully pulpit” a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.”

Roosevelt often used the word “bully” to mean “superb” or “wonderful” in his messages to Americans. The bully pulpit was also used by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as an effective means of communication. Now, it’s time for Democrats of today to do the same.

There are two ways by which the Democrats must connect with the American people. First, they need to create very effective commercials and radio and TV discussions that illustrate how the Republican Party and its members have deteriorated, how they have rejected the principles of ethics and morality, and why they no longer represent the American people.

In the second instance, Democrats need to talk about all the accomplishments that they have made that benefit this country and its people. That’s in contrast to the Republicans’ record of no positive and constructive achievements. 

Here are just a few examples of an endless array of things that Trump and his staunch followers are doing that can be described as unethical, immoral, dishonorable, and criminal. So many of these instances of twisted behavior will be perfect to use in the creation of commercials and TV discussions.

First of all, Democrats need to show that famous video in which the immoral, filthy-minded Trump describes how easy it is to have sexual relations with willing women, even married ones. He then adds his infamous quote, “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” 

In these commercials and discussions, Trump should be portrayed as the liar and cheat that he is, and also, as a misogynist that does what he wishes with women, no matter how pathetic and appalling it may be. 

There was the time when Trump & Putin held a news conference in Helsinki, Finland. A reporter asked Trump about allegations of Putin’s meddling in the US elections, whether he believed what the US intelligence agencies had concluded, or did he side with Putin, who had strongly denied any involvement.  

Trump, without any hesitation, said “President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be.” That remark constituted treason against this country and that’s why Democrats must use it in a large series of video presentations, showing him as the traitor he is.

Next, there is the Jan. 6 insurrection against the US Capitol. Democrats can make this connection with Americans by, in the very near future, presenting the Jan. 6 Committee’s evidence that he tried to overthrow our government, our democracy; that he used every tactic to try to show that the election was invalid, once again engaging in criminal actions. 

Republicans were well aware that Trump had played a significant, role in this insurrection. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, right after that attack on the Capitol happened, made statements indicating that Trump was directly responsible for what happened. Then in the following weeks, they refused to admit that they had implicated him. What cowards! This would be a great commercial.

Democrats, using the TV Bully Pulpits, need to portray Republicans in general as master obstructionists, showing how they, led by the small-minded Mitch McConnell, block almost every attempt by Democrats to pass legislation that is designed to do positive and constructive things for this country and its people. 

By their actions Republicans, have made it known that they reject the premise that this is a government “of, by, and for the American people.” They believe that they are in control, in charge, and this is now a government of, by, and for the Republican Party. Show how close we are to losing our democracy and how it will fall under the control of an autocratic government. If Repubs win in November and then in 2024.

The right to vote is sacred in America but Republicans are now making it clear that they will determine who can vote and who cannot. It’s called voter suppression and they are putting in all sorts of voting restrictions across America, primarily, in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Arizona. 

And guess which Americans are the main targets of this suppression? That’s easy, it’s African Americans and Hispanics that head the list. This is the type of commercial that should be shown throughout America time and time again.

We could go on and on and on talking about the plethora of commercials and talking points for various discussion scenarios that could be presented, but that’s enough for now. 

So, let’s turn to the Democrats to discuss how they should go about telling Americans about the important accomplishments they have made under President Biden and the plans they have for much more of the same.

In this communication process, Democrats need is think about President Theodore Roosevelt, think about his courage, his perseverance, and how he used the Bully Pulpit to connect with the people of this country; how he used it to attack serious problems and overcome them. That should be an inspiration for Democrats as they make their presentations to the American public. 

Here are the main Democratic accomplishments since Biden took office, those about which they should remind the people of this country., 

Their first, critically important accomplishment in the Biden presidency was called “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” The bill passed both the House and Senate with only Democratic votes. No Republicans voted for it. Its cost was $1.88 trillion 

Here are the details of this excellent plan that will provide many benefits for Americans, and help them cope with, and recover from, the Covid-19 crisis. 

One of the best provisions of this plan is the expansion of the Child Tax Credit which will significantly reduce child poverty by adding to the earnings of families. This plan will expand child care assistance to 857,000 children. 

Also, as the details bring out: “COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, treatment, and prevention, especially for hard to reach communities and area emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, and other housing programs to help families pay rent, mortgages, and utilities.”

Remind Americans of the Infrastructure Program This plan would finally address one of America’s greatest problems, a crumbling infrastructure that should have been funded many years ago. This program would use this federal funding to repair and rebuild everything from bridges and roads to the nation’s broadband, water, and energy systems. 

Talk about how President Biden took actions that resulted in America’s employers adding a record 6.6 million jobs during his first 12 months in office. This has never happened in any US president’s first year in office. Also, the nation’s unemployment rate on March 22 was 3.8%, a great achievement.

Pandemic management: Mr. Biden and his team have done an excellent job in combating this deadly virus which now gives every appearance of being under control. Up to 85% of Americans, twelve and older, have had at least one dose of a vaccine and many millions more have had two vaccines and two boosters.

Of course, Democrats know far better than me as to the best achievements that they need to use in commercials, articles, and discussions. So, my advice to them is to just “just go for it”, and just jump into your bully pulpit. 

Remember the famous words of James Carville, when he was advising President Clinton during his successful campaign for the presidency in 1992. At that time America was in the midst of a serious recession and H. W. Bush, the incumbent president, was experiencing a great deal of criticism. 

So, to show the American people that Bush had to go, Carville advised Democratic leadership to send out this message; “it’s the economy stupid.” And, it worked beautifully. Bush handily lost the election.

Now, today, as we watch the Democrats failing to match the Republican’s strategies in reaching and influencing the American people, the word to them must be: “it’s the Bully Pulpit, stupid”, get going, get moving if you want to see your fellow democrats get elected if you want to save our democracy and our country. 


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.