Last Wednesday, February 2, was the deadline to file to get your name on the May 3 primary ballot. The good news is that we had 74 people file to run for our Central Committee in 71 precincts. This is the largest number of people to file for our Central Committee in some years. Since most of those filers are running unopposed, they need to remember to vote for themselves in the May primary.
The bad news is that Clermont County has 166 precincts. Despite concerted recruiting efforts by many of us, we still have candidates for Central Committee in fewer than half of the precincts in our County. The Republicans had at least one person file for election to their Central Committee in 112 precincts.
We still need candidates for County Commissioner and County Auditor. Although the deadline has passed for people to get their names on the May 3 primary ballot for those offices, people can file to run as a write-in candidate until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 22. Someone who is a write-in candidate needs to receive at least 50 votes in the primary to get her or his name on the November ballot. This is easily achieved. Again, I ask people to step up and run for office.
“Messaging” is a vogue term in politics these days. We hear it very frequently in Ohio Democratic circles. We talk about it a lot in Clermont County. That’s because Republicans have controlled state government for most of the last twenty years and we’ve had one-party rule in Clermont County even longer.
Most of the discussions of “messaging” I’ve heard recently have focused on what platforms we should use to get our message out. That is, of course, important. A message no one sees is like the proverbial tree falling in the woods. Equally important, however, is the question What is our message? Universal healthcare? A living wage? Zero carbon emissions? Those are policies, not a message.
To quote J.M. Purvis from his 2021 book Democrats 101, Modern politics “isn’t about logic, and it isn’t about policies or positions. It’s about emotional perception. People don’t vote on ideas, they vote on emotion.” To borrow from the “Great Communicator,” Ronald Reagan, “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.”
One of the best examples of messaging was the loathsome donald trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” First, the premise of that message was unassailable. Who doesn’t want our Country to be great? Second, the message appealed to the Republican base by implying that the Country had deteriorated under our first African American President and that a white male was required to set things right. Third, the message didn’t commit trump to any policy with which voters may disagree. Beyond building a wall along the Mexican border, trump was vague on what he would do. Voters were free to interpret “MAGA” as meaning whatever the voter wanted it to mean. While Hillary Clinton received more votes overall, the message resonated with enough voters in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, and Pennsylvania to make trump President.
What is our message? That is not up to one person alone to decide. We all need to think hard about it. Our challenge is to express our values succinctly in words that have emotional resonance with the voters we are trying to reach. Our values are not those of donald trump (if he has any values beyond his own aggrandizement). We should learn, however, from how trump successfully created a message with emotional appeal.
The Ice Storm
I hope you all survived last week’s storm with less difficulty than I did. Leaving aside the power outage, my biggest issue was that my driveway is over 500 feet long going up the north side of a hill. Last Friday morning, it was covered with loose snow over a two-inch layer of frozen sleet. Under the sleet was a coating of glare ice. Five fifty-pound bags of salt created only pockmarks in the ice. I spent long days last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday chipping away ice by hand. I’m not done yet. My wife tried calling the company that clears the private road serving the very expensive homes on the other side of Locust Corner Road. That company wasn’t interested in our iced-up driveway, but they’d love to talk to us about landscaping services in the Spring.
Why do I relate this story? No, I’m not asking for help to finish clearing my driveway. Rather, during the many hours I chipped ice away inch by inch, it struck me as a metaphor for being a Democrat in Clermont County. I faced an adverse situation I didn’t create. Progress in changing the situation has been slow and frustration has been high. The results so far have not been satisfactory. Someone whom we hoped would produce immediate results really had an entirely different agenda. The urge to quit and wait for better conditions is strong, as is the belief that there is an easier way if I can just find it. Like clearing my driveway, the only viable option for re-establishing the two-party system in Ohio and in Clermont County is to continue the hard work of slowly chipping away.
Ohio and Clermont County are covered in Republican ice that has built up for decades. 2022 offers us the opportunity to remove some ice. We can help elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate and Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison to create a Democratic majority on the Ohio Supreme Court. We can elect Brian Flick to the Ohio House from District 62 and Alan Darnowsky to the U.S. House from the Second District. We must work together, despite the natural frustration, and keep chipping away.