Gettin' some butts in the seats

by Ashley R. Hall 

Remember Sister Act? A great movie that stands the test of time. A group of nuns have a choir, which fulfills its intention of singing about God, but has some honkin' big problems. They're boring and they don't sing cohesively as a group, which makes everyone think they can't sing. One is too loud, one is too soft and the others are facing the wrong way. Are they doing what they set out to do? Yes technically, but without anyone to watch them, they're pretty useless.  

Enter Whoopi Goldberg, who just makes a few small tweaks and throws in some glitter to completely transform them. And I think how she does it applies directly to how the Democrats can and will kick a** once again.  

Highlighting What You Do Well 

Once Whoopi gets the group together, she immediately targets what they do well, soloists, etc. This is Marketing 101 and Trump does it ALL. THE. TIME. It's tremendous, it's the best you've ever seen, it's the best chocolate cake you've ever had. He, himself, inside and out, is butt ugly, but everything he does is always great and if you hear that enough, it might seep in even if it's not true. Trump and the Republicans are inherently better at this than Democrats, and that needs to change, because it's a matter of perception. What do we do well? How can we turn our negatives into positives? We need to start displaying this more and even turning some Republican issues around on them.  

Are you patriotic and love the troops? Then you're a Democrat. Democrats routinely propose legislation that supports finding jobs for veterans and improving their mental health after duty. Republicans routinely kill these attempts to make the lives of our brave men and women better. 

Do you support small business? Then you're a Democrat. Supporting the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, supports local entrepreneurs and small business in your community. How do we help people make money? Get jobs? Have Freedom? Support morals and values? Let's take everything the Republicans brag about and use it to our advantage. I could do a million of these and so can you! 


We're fighting a losing battle if we think people won't gravitate towards dynamic personalities that can get a message across. Even if that personality is less qualified than the policy wonk next to them. It's human nature and even happens within our own party. If Bernie had gotten elected, would he have broken up the "big banks?" That's a tall order. But he was entertaining, with a clear message, and he tapped into an ideal, just like Trump. And the very point of Sister Act was not that they changed their songs, it was that they sang the hymns in a more palatable, entertaining, relatable way. Same song, better style. Should we lie or embellish to the point of lying? No. Not our style. But we shouldn't underestimate the power to make people laugh and leave them feeling engaged. We can't all be Obamas, but a little improv training or a few stand-up open mics would go a long way if you're running for office or even asking people for their vote while working for a candidate. The "I want to have a beer with them" thing is real, and it stinks a little, but I've made my peace with it. 


Gettin Some Butts in the Seats 

This is our big thing. The Republicans do best when people don't vote and Democrats like to not vote. So, as Whoppi said in the movie, "I was thinkin' more like Vegas, get some butts in the seats." So how? I would like to think we're the more creative party of the two, so I believe we can think outside the box. Knocking on doors and calling gets us part way there, but won't be enough, especially since people are getting good at screening calls. How do we reach people? A Democratic dog walk at Poor Farm with our candidates and their dogs? People love dogs. A Mommy and Me event where stay-at-home mothers bring their kids? What do people like? We need to be innovative. Facebook Live? A YouTube Channel? Can we make it cool to vote in the mid-term election? Can we offer some kind of incentive to those who vote, besides telling them its their civic duty and that this affects the next four years? Someone said to me recently, "Republicans speak in emotions, Democrats speak in policy." How can we connect with people, speak in emotion and make them want to vote, not just make them feel Iike they have to vote? 


We Have to be Sister Mary Clarence 

Let's not wait. As candidates and members of the party, you don't cheapen your values or ideals by presenting your policies and ideas in a way that people like, it's just hard to do. It's hard to tell people what they want to hear, how they like to hear it and not lie. It's even harder to tell people what they need to hear But we can do it. In other words, "Sister, we can rock this place!" And we can. Democrats are freakin' cool. We're the party of Kennedy and Obama, for goodness sake.  People want to be cool, they want to be Democrats and they want to vote. We just have to add some popcorn and get some butts in the seats!