Jon Ossoff lost.
You might even say he got his ass beat.
Despite raising over $22 million dollars for the Georgia special election, all Ossoff managed to do was turn it into the most expensive Congressional race ever. As far as votes were concerned, he couldn’t even do better than Hillary Clinton in the district – A.K.A. one of the most disliked Democratic politicians in recent memory. Jon Ossoff was like the rich kid who starts playing a new sport. He got decked out in all the latest basketball gear, so he could show up and chuck airballs.
I’m not going to read into this election like it means everything. It’s one district. But, let’s be real, if you can’t beat a candidate who’s running on the same platform as the most unpopular president in history – then really – what are you doing? The answer is sure to be the same as it always is for Democrats – losing safely. This, followed by a laundry list of reasons that excuse the loss without ever mentioning the actual candidate or their message.
We’ll hear about how the election was in a gerrymandered district, or how it’s harder for Democrats to vote on Tuesdays, or how he did so much better than other Congressional Democrats have done in the 6th district in past years. These reasons will be spun as moral victories. But, in my mind, they’re only excuses. Excuses that don’t win elections. Excuses that certainly don’t pull us out of the epic fucking tailspin this country will enter if Democrats don’t win back the House in 2018. And, most importantly, excuses that overlook the fact that Ossoff had $22 million to get his message out in a district where early voting was available and still lost.
Sounds like a pretty poor message. Shared in the most expensive way possible.
Now, I can’t say that with certainty, because I don’t live in Georgia and I didn’t see the ads. But, here’s what I do know – I got about 10,000 e-mails from Jon Ossoff asking for money – and not a single one about his policies.
According to multiple sources, about 96% of Ossoff’s grassroots funding came from outside the state of Georgia. It came from states like California, and New York, and Massachusetts. States where Democrats reign supreme and their hopes for Ossoff as the first Resistance candidate started when he did surprisingly well in an early April election. His results at the polls earned him millions. Maybe we should’ve listened to his message first.
If we had, we would have heard the same-old, tired-hat, focus-grouped pragmatism that people in the South have so resoundingly rejected for – I don’t know – like almost 40 years now? In other words, it was a message that the people who were actually going to vote for him weren’t that interested in buying once it was being sold on the campaign trail.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Ossoff will run again in 2018 and beat Handel soundly. I doubt it though. Not until he gives that message some tweaking.
Because, look – I’m not a political analyst, but I am a southerner, and I do understand people. I think over the years, I’ve gotten a good grasp on how they communicate, and more so, how they think. And, let me tell you – it’s not rationally. They think with emotion. (Myself included.) And, that’s something that the Democrats still can’t seem to grasp. They still want to hash things out with their brains, instead of listening to their hearts. It’s like the most popular Democratic candidate in decades – the one who ran on the single word “Hope” – never happened.
My suggestion? Quit trying to pull from the current pool of voters who are registered in your district, and start trying to engage new ones. Do it with passion, do it with emotion, do it with ideals. I don’t want to hear about what’s “realistic” and “pragmatic” – tell me about your dream for America and we’ll work from there. Tell me about who you are and why I should trust you. Tell me that you understand what I’m going through by showing me you feel my pain – not by showing me your policies.
This is not me fetishizing anti-intellectualism. I’m not about that life. I’m just telling you how things are. Civics sucked an ash tray and that’s why we all skipped it to go smoke cigarettes behind the school. You have to know your customers. And, that means quit worrying about registered, centrist Democrats. Trust me, they’re going to vote for you anyway. Quit worrying about independents. Independents want the change candidate, and aiming down-the-middle sounds exactly like politics as usual. And, quit worrying about winning. That’s the easiest way to lose.
I hope this new wave of Democratic candidates starts thinking this way and soon. I hope they can be themselves and stop being too chicken-shit to say what they actually believe in. Otherwise, we’re all going to be in really, really big trouble. And, when they lose in 2018 – it will take a hell of a lot more than $22 million to save us.