I am a supporter of your candidacy for president and truly hope that you will be elected our next President in November. However, I am sure you know that these days many, if not most, of your supporters feel extremely frustrated about the national polls, which show you trailing behind the Republican candidate John McCain when everything (the state of the economy, the extreme unpopularity of the present Republican administration, to name just two) suggests that you should be leading.
There are many theories that purport to explain this strange phenomenon. Some say that it is because you have moved too much to the "center" and have made too many compromising moves in an attempt to accommodate the "right" and thereby lost your own base of core supporters. Some say that it is because you are too vague or too much of an unknown, lacks "experience", or is not qualified to be president. Some even say that you are a phony and an empty bag of rhetoric in the first place, and that the voters have finally caught up with you and have begun to desert you. Or, some say that it is because at least a certain, still significant, segment of the voters are racists and simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a black man for president. It is truly strange that your slogan of "change" had initially stirred the nation so much that even McCain camp now has to borrow it from you and pretend to run for "change" and yet now it almost seems as if "change"? really became the slogan of McCain/Palin ticket, and you lost it as the inspiring theme of your own campaign.
I do not profess to know which, if any, of the above or some other, theories best explain this puzzling political phenomenon. But, at this point in time, there is simply no time to waste speculating how best to explain or understand this phenomenon. The task is a practical one of winning this election and, therefore, to do something, or anything and everything possible, that will make you win this election fairly, squarely and honorably, not an academic one of understanding and explaining the phenomenon for intellectual satisfaction.
So, let's take a closer look at what is really happening. One thing you will immediately notice is that there is a certain group of people, generally known as the "white, working class" people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, West Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc., who are in favor of voting for the Republican candidate John McCain, rather than for you, by a margin ranging anywhere between 15 and 25 percent. This is one group of voters you have failed to reach in an effective way. What is really noteworthy and puzzling about this group of voters is that you vigorously advocate policies that will most directly benefit these very people, while it is abundantly clear that McCain will implement policies that will hurt these very same people most. This is doubly strange because a lot of affluent and highly educated people who will definitely be paying more taxes under your policies are, by a fairly large margin, support you, not McCain. This latter group of people understand your positions on various policy issues so they all know that they will pay more taxes if you are elected, but they nevertheless support you probably because they believe that you are more likely and capable of delivering this country from further disasters that we have witnessed in the past seven plus years, and that if our country stays in a dungeon, then paying a little less tax for themselves is no boon even for themselves individually, especially when they think about their children, and their children's children, and so on.
But why do a majority of these white working class people support McCain, rather than you, despite the apparently adverse impact on their own economic interests? The general explanation is that their racist outlook in life makes it impossible for them to support you because you are not one of them. Can this be true? I grant that it may be true of some of them but can it be really true of every single one of them who is leaning toward McCain? These are generally hardworking, honest and independent people and are proud of themselves. Particularly, they are predominantly family-oriented people who try to do the very best for their children under all circumstances. The clue emerges, however, if you pay a really close attention to what they actually say. I think, according to general newspaper reports, the most frequently heard statement made by people in this group, when asked by reporters why they support McCain, goes something like this: "McCain holds views and policies most like our own: no abortion, less tax, and less government spending." There is no question that this a clear echo of Ronald Regan still reverberating in the hearts and minds of many of these white, working class people. They were once brainwashed by the Republican propaganda machinery to accept this simple motto or dogma as the supreme political "truths" and have never had a chance to appreciate anything else in the political arena. For that reason, Bill Clinton, even after he had been elected president, generally tried to look like Ronald Reagan, and therefore failed to wipe out the legacy of Ronald Reagan in the hearts and minds of these white working class voters.
So, let's analyze the above statement. First, their anti-abortion stand: a lot of them, especially Catholic voters, are pro-choice, which goes against Obama's and the Democratic party's platform. It would not be right to try to woo their votes by misrepresenting or even fudging your position on this issue. You should be clear and straight with all voters on your position on all issues. Second, their view that you will tax them more: this is clearly a serious misunderstanding on their part. A great majority of these voters belong to income groups who will benefit significantly from your tax policies, not the other way around. So, needless to say, you clearly must do something to correct this misunderstanding among these voters on this all-critical issue. Third, less government spending by McCain: this is true, maybe, but only if you exclude military spending in various, present and possible or likely future, wars that McCain, if elected, may pursue. So, this is again not accurate, rather the truth is quite the opposite. More to the point: your policy will increase domestic spending which will directly benefit these very voters in areas such as national health care system, education, national infrastructure (highways, telephone lines and cables, the Internet and other communication system, bridges and tunnels), energy policies, environmental issues, labor and worker safety policies, government regulation on mortgage lenders and other financial institutions and areas relating to consumer protections, international trade, general job creation by government projects, veterans benefits (because this particular group sends more of their sons and daughters than any other demographic groups to man the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war zones, present and possibly future), and so on and so on.
In contrast, it is abundantly clear that McCain, if elected, will cut exactly these projects and spending that will benefit these working class people most and implement other policies that would also hurt this particular group of voters most, although the highest income group would do just fine under McCain policies and most mega-corporations would reap large financial benefits. Are these white working class people really ready to sacrifice all these economic and social benefits to themselves and to their children and grandchildren just to elect another "white" man and/or woman and not have to see a black man as president? I cannot read their minds but I do not believe that all of them can be that much of a racist. But it does not really matter. The good news is that you do not have to change the mind of every one of these potential voters. If you change the mind of just, say, 20 percent of these white working class people in just about half or slightly more than half of the current swing states, then you probably will be home free for election as president in November and may also cause an immediate bump in the national polls to the delight of your hardcore supporters who are experiencing the most unpleasant jitters at the moment.
So how do you do this? Simple. You should repeat the following mantra (or a variation of it; the simpler the better) day and night, 24/7, from now on until the election day in all those swing states, by means of your own speeches, TV, radio, magazine and newspaper ads, as well as other means, such as fliers and pamphlets that you may distribute in various public places:
"I want you to vote for me because my administration will work for you far more than John McCain can possibly do. Except for people who belong to the highest [1 ] percent income group, I will lower your taxes; I will make better schools for your children so your children will be better educated and become more capable of getting good jobs after graduation in this increasingly competitive world; I will also provide more financial assistance for your children for college. I will also withdraw troops from Iraq as soon as possible and reduce the defense spending so that more of our government budget will go to projects that will benefit you and your family, instead of being wasted in unnecessary and counter-productive military campaigns. I will maintain the best military in the world, as we always have, but I will use it as the last resort and never sacrifice the lives of our sons and daughters in military campaigns that do not necessarily benefit our country. For the real safety and security of you and your family, our administration will be more alert and use the best diplomacy; our administration will never commit the kind of negligence and failure in intelligence that was manifest in allowing the 9.11 to happen and in handling Katrina. I will uphold our Constitution fully and protect your civil rights and will restore the moral, political and economic leadership role of our country in the world.
"You now know that I am on your side on far more issues that matters to you and your family than McCain can possibly be. One, and the only one issue: If you are against abortion, I understand, although I am in favor giving women the right to choose. But we can always work together to reduce unwanted pregnancy, so the difference between your position and mine can be minimized. In any case, do you really want to punish and sacrifice yourself and your children in all areas, like economy, education, national security, and so on, just to deny women the right to choose? Please think real hard and be compassionate! Please vote for me. We are all in the same boat. We are keepers of each other. You know John McCain is not: for him, everyone is on his or her own. For him and for Republicans generally, anyone who is in tough luck, just too bad! If you don't like that, please vote for me on the election day! We will build a great nation together again."
You must repeat this same mantra thousands and thousands times, practically ad infinitum, until the election day, so that everyone in the nation will have heard it so much that, when they lie in their beds at night to sleep, your mantra rings in their ears and they find themselves quietly reciting it, whether they like it not, or whether they understood the meaning of it or not. When you do that, I am pretty sure that at least 20 percent of these white working class people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, and some other states, will get up one night before the election day and wonder whether they might not have grasped the true meaning of your message until that moment, and whether they should really reconsider their decision to vote for McCain, although they thought they had already decided. Whatever they may eventually do thereafter, if that happens to enough people, that means that your message actually has gotten through to enough people. If that happens, whether you are actually elected or not, whatever happens on the election day will be the will of the people, and everyone, including you, should be happy and satisfied that we have all done our best to help this nation.
The election is not a contest directly between you and John McCain. So, don't waste your own time and the resources available to your campaign for anything not relating to sending your message to the voters as clearly as possible. You don't even have to respond to McCain camp's various statements and ads or even charges, unless you are certain that it has potential impact on your chances of being elected on November 4. The only thing you need and must do is to convince as many voters as possible as to why they should vote for you, rather than for McCain. To date, you still have not done that with a vast number of white working class voters. It is not because these voters are largely stupid or racists but because somehow or other, your message, while crystal clear to yourself, has not really gotten through to all the potential voters. But I think you have a message to tell them that should change their minds even if they might have vaguely racist mind-set, if you are really clear about your policies and vision.
Nathan I. Nahm