Democrats, it’s time to rebrand

Sure, you won big on election night, but some changes are in order.

We long ago reached the point at which government became analogous to corporate competition. It’s Coke vs. Pepsi. And if the government shutdown was the Republican Party’s New Coke moment, then the Democrats squandered their opportunity to capitalize on it with — a Crystal Pepsi debacle of their own, if you will.

What do corporations do when they’re desperately in need of a boost for their market share, and their big new product has tanked? They rebrand. If you’re not familiar with marketing, a “rebrand” is — to both criminally trivialize and accurately describe it — a reworking of all of the most superficial public elements of a company’s identity, while making the fewest possible changes to the actual way the company’s sausage gets made.

Great at ideas, and terrible at getting things done, the Democratic Party is a perfect candidate for a rebrand. There’s no need to change its fundamental ideology or process; a few key changes to the standard verbiage should put a whole new face on left-wing politics, for a start. Let’s take a look at what can be done to make our liberal leaders a bit more attractive to a wider audience.

The Democratic Party. Ugh. Ineffectual. Tax ’n’ spend. Militarily spineless. It doesn’t matter that such allegations are, historically speaking, somewhat inaccurate; the associations exist. It’s time to wipe the slate clean, and give the most visible and powerful political element of progressivism a whole new, evocative brand. Since it’s pretty much all or nothing at this point, I suggest something straightforward, memorable and easily confused with the Republican Party: The American Party, or the American Freedom Party. Go big or go home.

Liberal. This one was doomed from the get-go. It implies open-mindedness to some, but others infer excess, group sex, too many spices sprinkled with too much abandon on what should be bland sustenance. You don’t want to offer the opposite of conservatism; you want to offer an alternative to conservatism. “Moderate” has worked well for liberals who have to deal with Republican relatives during the holidays, and I think if it’s repeated often and exclusively enough, it won’t matter how radical the agenda is.

Socialism. A great word, but it was ruined decades ago by corruption, material scarcity and the Cold War. Gotta let it go. What’s another, similarly great word that describes the equal distribution of a culture’s resources, responsibilities and production? “Sharing” is nice and simple, but saying “I believe in sharing” in a political context makes you sound like a cult member, and “Sharism” isn’t a word. Don’t focus on the communal aspect — focus on the aspect of shared accountability. Let’s go with “reciprocity:” “I believe in reciprocity/social reciprocity/American reciprocity.” Just make sure you know how to say it.

Welfare/Entitlements. Purge these two words from your political vocabulary. You no longer talk about welfare programs. You talk about incentivized development. You talk about subsidized economic growth. You talk about Project Bootstrap.

Tax Increase. There have been dozens of flimsy euphemisms for increasing taxes. None has worked thus far. “Building the National Trust” (caps ALWAYS implied) will work. Trust me, I’m in marketing.

Unions. Yeah, the word “unions” cannot be salvaged. The idea can, however, if couched in the language of “job-creating networks.” Networking isn’t just what unemployed creatives do at events hosted by companies with no real reason for existing — it’s also what gets laws passed. Politicians love the idea of networking, because that’s what they call taking bribes and generally rationalizing any conflict of interest.

OK, say it with me:

“The stated goal of the American Freedom Party is to ensure our country’s vibrant, enduring future through such moderate programs as building the national trust, committing to social reciprocity and supporting both job-creating networks and the incentivized development of Project Bootstrap.”

Who cares if it doesn’t mean anything new. It sounds awesome, right?

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