The Democrats and the power of Why

Democratic Scrabble

Much has been written about the Democratic Party’s new economic theme which it unveiled in July. This new theme is called “A Better Deal.” Unfortunately, a lot of the feedback for the Democrats over their new messaging has been negative. Much of the criticism centers around the fact that “A Better Deal” is not an organic, positive slogan or underlying message, but rather a comparison to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Indeed, the terminology plays off of Trump’s first and most famous book, “The Art of the Deal,” as well as Trump’s frequent use of the word “deal” in both business and political situations. There is a reason why we came up with Messaging Maxim #8: Don’t use the other side’s labels. Doing so is like playing on the other team’s field, with the other team’s rules. It gives your opponents an advantage and has an air of “me too” desperation. Why couldn’t the Democrats come up with their own, more original and inspiring theme?

The solution may lie in what’s called “the Power of Why.”  This is an idea that has become popular in business marketing. For example, one of the most famous TED talks is this one by Simon Sinek entitled “Start with why — how great leaders inspire action.” Sinek uses the example of Apple corporation to demonstrate that, unlike other computer companies marketing the mechanics of what they make and how they make it, which is extremely uninspiring, Apple starts with why it makes its products, addressing the meaningful questions:

What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist?

In Apple’s case, according to Sinek, the answer sounds like this:

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

Sinek says that answering such “why” questions first (accompanied, of course, by excellent products) has led to Apple’s great success and fanatically devoted customers, turning Apple’s brand into a strong sense of purpose that it can easily communicate to the world.

The Democratic Party can use this same principle. Now that they have come out with “A Better Deal,” it’s crucial for Democratic leaders to emphasize, with passion, why the Democrats are offering “a better deal,” as opposed to merely the “what” and “how” list of proposals that they are presenting. In fairness, the initial rollout of “A Better Deal” by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did begin by outlining the problem to be addressed, for example, that “working people from the heartland to the cities are struggling in a rigged economy and a system stacked against them.” Schumer did write that “Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people.” The Democrats need to continue talking about their purpose, their cause, their belief, and the reason for the existence of their party, which compels them to solve the problems that working people face. With such a focus, these “why” answers will tumble out quite easily, and will reveal, in simple and visceral terms, the real Democratic Party values that are necessary to attract more voters and win more elections. For example:

–Why are Democrats offering a better deal? Because Democrats are the party of empathy.

–Why are Democrats offering a better deal? Because Democrats care about everyday Americans and their families.

–Why are Democrats offering a better deal? Because Democrats have your back.

Photo by Mayberry Health and Home, used under Creative Commons license.

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