Political Communication: A Look at the Different Styles of Ben Ray, Bernie and Seth Rogan

Is it possible to raise funds for your campaign and still offer substantive, provocative communication to your supporters? Today we examine the most recent fundraising email from Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and of Bernie Sanders. And we toss in a brief discussion of the new film Long Shot starring Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron because it is surprising germane to this discussion..

Escaping Extinction Redux:  Tomorrow, I’ll sending out a short blog with comments from readers on the last post Escaping Extinction. Frankly, I think the title might have scared a few folks but from comments from those who read it, there was a sense that it was a very important post. I recommend reading it if you missed it and tomorrow, we’ll have comments from a selection of those who made comments. So far, the comments have pointed in the same direction as to what is next and what we need to do. But it would be good to hear from more of you.  Click here to read Escaping Extinction. If for no other reason, the post includes links to two really remarkably insightful articles, one from The Nation and another from Resilience.

Ben Ray Vs. Bernie Vs. Seth:  Two Dems Running for Office & One Zany Comic:  But What a Difference in Their Communication with Constituents

First Seth Rogan.  On a lark, Roxanne and I decided to take an evening off from Retake and to escape into a zany comedy that got surprisingly good reviews. Seth Rogan plays a journalist whose babysitter as a youngster happened to be the US Secretary of State (Charlize Theron) who is planning a run for President. To cut to the chase, Rogan becomes her speechwriter and Seth is not one to compromise. At all. I can’t talk much more about this because I don’t want to ruin a very entertaining and funny film that actually has some important stuff to say about political discourse. Suffice to say that Rogan is a bit more candid than even Bernie and Charlize is drawn to it. And it is very interesting to see the admittedly Hollywood framed reaction of the public when a candidate for President drops an F bomb and more on national television. I guess the point here is:  1)  go see the movie, it is a tad silly but extremely well written and very, very funny and 2) perhaps taking Bernie’s candor to another level may not be such a bad thing.  It is after all a f***ing crisis the likes of which human has never seen. We can’t tiptoe around this any longer.

Next, Ben Ray.  Note how he waits until the second sentence to ask for a donation after provocative teaser that really doesn’t seek dialog or thought.

Did you hear what Mitch McConnell just said? He promised to block campaign finance reform and any other bill Democrats put forward. I’m the “grim reaper,” he said. Pitch in $15 to win New Mexico, take out Mitch McConnell, and put Democrats in charge of the Senate. >>

 
We need you to know these three things immediately:
  • — McConnell just announced he won’t even hold a vote on the campaign finance reform bill that the Democratic House passed
  • — When asked why? McConnell gloated: “Because I get to decide what we vote on”
  • — Now? He’s bragging he’ll block any campaign finance reform bill Democrats put forward, calling himself the “grim reaper”
It’s sickening. Mitch McConnell will do ANYTHING to stay in power — he’ll even put our Democracy in the hands of special interests.
We need to band together and throw out his Republican Senate.
Will you pitch in $15 to elect Ben Ray, win a Democratic Senate, and kick McConnell to the curb? Ben Ray just announced he’s rejecting ALL corporate PAC money — so he’s counting on YOU to have his back:
 
Thank you,
Team Ben Ray
It is worth noting that the only “action” sought is a donation. The constituent may leave a tad angrier with Mitch McConnell, but that constituent has been challenged to think and hasn’t been exposed to new ideas.  On to Bernie.
Bernie: I want to be clear, this is not an endorsement of Bernie nor is it intended as strong criticism of Ben Ray. As was noted in so many comments to the two blogs covering BRL’s emails, what he is doing is not exactly trailblazing, as similar kinds of communiques are used and have been used broadly. But today’s point is that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Now Bernie.

One of the great crises facing the global community today is that democracy, the right of ordinary people to control their own lives, is on the defensive while authoritarianism is growing stronger.

And at its root is the fact that a handful of incredibly wealthy people are exerting enormous economic and political power over the planet. Unbelievably, in the global economy today, the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, and a handful of billionaires own more than the bottom half of people around the world — that’s 3.7 billion people.

That is the reality.People in our own country, and around the world, are angry and betrayed, and they feel that nobody is listening to their pain.

And one of the results of that reality is that in Europe, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Asia and elsewhere we are seeing movements led by demagogues who exploit people’s fears, prejudices and grievances to achieve and hold on to power.

Next week, Donald Trump is set to welcome one of those leaders into the White House: Hungary’s far-right authoritarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán.

Now, I have always found it very strange that Trump has such a hard time getting along with leaders of the world’s major democracies but feels very comfortable with authoritarians like Orbán, Putin, Xi Jinping, Bolsonaro and Mohammad bin Salman.

But the truth is, while they all differ in some respects, they share a number of key attributes: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit their own selfish financial interests.

This trend certainly did not begin with Trump, but there’s no question that authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the leader of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy seems to delight in shattering democratic norms.

Other authoritarian states are much farther along this kleptocratic process. In Russia, it is impossible to tell where the decisions of government end and the interests of Vladimir Putin and his circle of oligarchs begin. They operate as one unit. Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, there is no debate about separation because the natural resources of the state, valued at trillions of dollars, belong to the Saudi royal family. In Hungary, far-right authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán is openly allied with Putin in Russia. In China, an inner circle led by Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while it aggressively promotes a version of authoritarian capitalism abroad.

So the question is: Where do we go from here?

To effectively oppose right-wing authoritarianism, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last several decades. In order to fight this trend, we need to strengthen the global coalition of progressive democrats.

While authoritarians promote division and hatred, we promote unity, inclusion, and an agenda based on economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.

The people of the world must come together to end the absurdity of rich and multinational corporations stashing over $21 trillion in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and then demanding that their respective governments impose an austerity agenda on their working families.

It is not acceptable that the fossil fuel industry continues to make huge profits while their carbon emissions destroy the planet for our children and grandchildren.

It is not acceptable that a handful of multinational media giants, owned by a small number of billionaires, largely control the flow of information on the planet.

It is not acceptable that trade policies that benefit large multinational corporations and encourage a race to the bottom hurt working people throughout the world as they are written out of public view.

It is not acceptable that, with the Cold War long behind us, countries around the world spend over $1 trillion a year on weapons of destruction, while millions of children die of easily treatable diseases.

In order to effectively combat the rise of the international authoritarian axis, we need a global progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people and that addresses the massive inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power as well.

Such a movement must be willing to think creatively and boldly about the world that we would like to see.

We must take the opportunity to reconceptualize a genuinely progressive global community based on human solidarity, that recognizes that every person on this planet shares a common humanity, that we all want our children to grow up healthy, to have a good education, have decent jobs, drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live in peace.

Our job is to reach out to those in every corner of the world who share these values and who are fighting for a better world.

In a time of exploding wealth and technology, we have the potential to create a decent life for all people. Our job is to build on our common humanity and do everything that we can to oppose all of the forces, whether unaccountable government power or unaccountable corporate power, who try to divide us up and set us against each other.

We know that those forces work together across borders. We must do the same.

Thank you for reading.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders


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Well, first of all Bernie doesn’t get to asking for money until after 1000 words of thoughtful text. He tells you exactly where he stands on key issues. He frames an international challenge, identifies with specifics actual challenges to democracy internationally and at home. He asks his constituent to actually think and thanks them for reading 1000 words instead of 100 from BRL. Four years ago when Roxanne and I coordinated the SF Bernie campaign. We were in a balcony reserved for campaign volunteers when Bernie spoke at SFCC. After he finished we looked around and everyone was crying.  Roxanne said to us  “You so seldom here a politician tell the truth, that when you do, it makes you cry.” That was and is Bernie’s power. But after seeing Long Shot, I am hankering for Rogan’s no more polite discourse, all hands on deck, let’s pretend this crap matters kind of approach….taking Bernie a step or two further….  Sadly, we may have to wait a few years until AOC comes of age and can run.
In solidarity,
Paul & Roxanne

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