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Democrats need to focus on material gains

The+material%2C+in+its+most+basic+form%2C+is+bread.+To+win+back+congress+and+the+presidency%2C+the+Democrats+need+to+argue+the+material%3A+healthcare%2C+wages+and+quality+of+life.+Photo+credit%3A+Cole+Carlson
The material, in its most basic form, is bread. To win back congress and the presidency, the Democrats need to argue the material: healthcare, wages and quality of life. Photo credit: Cole Carlson

The material, in its most basic form, is bread. To win back congress and the presidency, the Democrats need to argue the material: healthcare, wages and quality of life. Photo credit: Cole Carlson

The material, in its most basic form, is bread. To win back congress and the presidency, the Democrats need to argue the material: healthcare, wages and quality of life. Photo credit: Cole Carlson

John Macmillen

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To win an election, you must offer a future. However, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton did not argue that proposition. She and her staff relied on matters that were of an immaterial nature, but it’s difficult to invest one’s self into a message and a candidate when their promises do not help put food on the table, pay the rent, or provide health care. This failure to appeal to voters’ material conditions was one of the primary reasons for Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump.

To shift the Democratic Party’s strategy from the immaterial to the material, one must first understand what these terms mean. Material is, in its purest form – bread it is what people need to live. Also people want to live comfortably: financial security, affordable healthcare, a safe home. Thus, material conditions are the physical realities of one’s life: into which socioeconomic class one is born into, how one is targeted by police or even one’s proximity to a supermarket and affordable food.

Immaterial, though, is ideas and concepts: justice, civility, natural rights.. While these ideas are widely held, they are not physical, which is why they are immaterial. One cannot eat national unity, or at the very least care about it when they’re starving.

With hyper inflated healthcare costs, the burden of student loans, high property values, unlivable discriminatory wages, and racially motivated state violence existing as real problems in America, using the little time of the average voter to tell them about the historical significance of her candidacy was stupid, even if the candidacy was historically significant. What matters is what the voters wanted and what would have gotten them excited to vote for Clinton.

The Trump campaign had horrifying policy ideas which targeted the most vulnerable people in America, but he had great one-liners: “Build a wall,” “Lock her up,” “Make America great again.” Even if they were plagiarised from generations long ago. These stuck and argued a backward kind of materialism (one where the material ills of society are blamed on scapegoats as an excuse to not truly solve the underlying causes of these material evils as well as discrediting those who are most affected by these problems). However, it offered a future free of the difficulties of the present.

The Clinton’s campaign had no one-liners, only slogans, none of which appealed to anyone, especially the poor, material conditions: “Stronger together,” “I’m with her” and “Love Trump’s hate.” There is no change in these slogans. Hearing these slogans do not bring up visions of a better future or a future at all. They remind people of the present, one in which they are struggling to pay the bills and stay out of the crosshairs of the establishment.

And it is not as if the Party is incapable of developing a clear, understandable vision for the future which appeals to the material needs of people. Bernie Sanders constantly reminded crowds about “Political revolution,” “A living wage” and “Medicare for all,” all which appealed to those who wanted change and the betterment of the material conditions of society, mainly the poor. Barack Obama’s “Hope,” slogan appealed to change and the future. These examples from the party’s past should be deeply considered and lessons learned.

People are inherently selfish. This is not a bad thing or something to get angry at the voter over. Instead, It is something to appeal to. If Democrats truly want to win in 2018 and 2020, they must abandon Clinton’s 2016 model and appeal to a material future.


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