Humility is the Democrats’ Kryptonite 

America is heading in the right direction. But why is nobody saying so?

Published December 3, 2021 5:30AM (EST)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Pramila Jayapal (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Pramila Jayapal (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Would you believe me if I told you that things are better than they look right now for Democrats?

With less than a year until the critical midterm elections, it's time for a much-needed reality check: President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress have already made real progress in improving the lives of most Americans. But in order to get any credit at the ballot box next year, they are going to have to stop being humble, brag about what they have done and contrast Republican extremism with a steady drumbeat of accomplishment.  

The simple reality here is President Biden and the Democratic Party saved the country from an out of control despot, a raging deadly virus and a spiraling, closed economy. Now they need to actually remind voters. 

Today, people are working, schools are open, 195 million people are fully vaccinated, vaccines are available for both adults and children, and we provided stimulus funds to help people who lost their jobs during the height of the pandemic.  By the end of this year, Joe Biden will have passed three substantial, transformational bills: The American Rescue Plan, The Infrastructure and Jobs Plan, and The Build Back Better Act. These bills will markedly improve the lives of Americans who are still affected by the challenges of the last two pandemic years and amount to the greatest investment in the American people in modern history.

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Case in point, in just 11 months President Biden has created nearly 6 million jobs, people are buying houses, wages are up, home values are up, personal debt is down, and perhaps most astonishingly, unemployment is back below pre-pandemic levels. In November 2021, the number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell to 199,000 — the lowest level since November 1969. This marks the eighth straight week of declines, which brings unemployment claims well below pre-pandemic levels. By contrast, this time last year claims were hovering around 700,000. 

Remarkably, Democrats and President Biden have invested so much money into the pockets of the American people, that workers who are not satisfied with their jobs are able to  be choosy about the job they want to work.

Compared to where we were at the beginning of the year, America is heading in the right direction.  

Unfortunately, while our accomplishments are numerous and popular, we have an issue of salience and awareness with voters. While President Biden and Democrats have accomplished so much, voters are largely unaware of these accomplishments. This lack of awareness from voters broadly, and in particular communities of color has been a trend all year and is a real opportunity for improvement heading into 2022. 

An analysis by Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist is clear: voters are not giving Democrats credit on what we have done because we are not seizing opportunities to tell this compelling story.  It is true that every time Democrats pass a major piece of legislation the President and his cabinet do a week of events. Unfortunately, after that week Democrats become subsumed in the next big legislative fight stepping on their own ability to effectively tell the story of how we are helping to improve the lives of voters. Case in point, while the economy was improving and 1 million jobs per month were being created, our GDP growth rate was 6.5% and tens of millions of Americans were receiving enhanced child tax credit payments, the president's approval rating on dropped 17 points. 

The message here is clear: Voters punish politicians who do not provide clear effective messaging about the issues that are salient to their lives. The issue that is most front and center for voters is the economy and vanquishing COVID-19. Yes, gas prices, inflation, and a myriad of other issues are also bubbling up as concerns but all of this is made much worse given voters' fatigue around COVID. Case in point, look no further than the immediate anxiety spurred by the discovery of the Omicron variant

The irony here is that Democrats have done so much to fight COVID and keep Americans safe in these uncertain times. Democrats have many accomplishments that directly help Americans to run on. They just must be shared in ways that are salient and resonate with the pain points of voters. These legislative victories are both big and complex, so it's not always clear how they immediately help voters in their day-to-day lives. In order to stave off Mitch McConnell's return to obstructionist leadership, Democrats need to take the time to show voters how they are making life better while strongly contrasting their steady leadership with the extremism of the Republican Party.     

Republicans have devolved into an anti-vaccination, anti-democracy party beholden to the paranoid delusions of Donald Trump willing to play Russian Roulette with our children's health. While Democrats would be wise not to make the next election about Trump as he is not on the ballot.  We absolutely must contrast their steady leadership and accomplishment with the extremism of the Republican party. That includes reminding voters of all the support, prosperity, and stability they have gained under the Biden administration. 

President Biden and Democrats have been extremely responsive to Americans' needs,  delivering unprecedented transformational change at a time of extraordinary challenges. Now we must tell that story of accomplishment or risk losing Congress to the GOP who are in the thrall of a madman. 

By Kristian Ramos

Kristian Ramos is a political strategist based in Washington, D.C.

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