To Hillary Clinton,
From David Lindsay, May 23, 2016.
I have cheered Hillary Clinton on for many years, and during these latest Presidential debates, marveled at her superior qualities which are many. I agree with other analysts that Hillary has a messaging problem. Pundits keeps saying, she doesn’t have a pithy short platform or brand message of her own, other than, “stay the course and build on the work of President Obama and Bill Clinton.” It is not easy, because she is not a demagogue, but a brilliant intellectual. Her branding message must be complex and simple.
Here is my stab at at a branding message, what Hillary should start saying at the beginning of almost every speech.
“We will do well by doing right. I promise to rebuild the American middle class and reduce income inequality, while improving the environment and fighting climate change. We will work for major investments in sustainable energy and modernizing infrastructure. We will create a jobs program to convert our existing buildings and infrastructure into more energy efficient systems. These programs will create good jobs, put our people to work, and make our American businesses more efficient and competitive for domestic growth and world trade.”
My associate, Kathleen Schomaker remarked, “Hillary has to show that she feels the pain of the dislocated workers who have lost good jobs and wages. Because she is a woman, Hillary is expected to display empathy.” I agree. I have heard Hillary say good things, like I have met x and talked to y, and their stories are shocking, xyz…. She has to keep up that good work. She has to keep reporting that she knows about the hardships that average Americans are facing. She has to interlace her big picture — to restore the greatness of the middle class, and strengthen the safety net — with specific examples of hardship and woe, like all good story tellers do. We in the middle class, are struggling. Neal Gabler recently reported in the Atlantic magazine that
according to a Federal Reserve Board survey, 47% of Americans report that they do not have $400 in cash to get out of a small emergency. (Atlantic, 2016, cover story “The Secret Shame of the Middle Class.”)
Your position on college tuition is good. I am one of thousands of Americans worried about keeping my house and keeping my kids’ college tuition debt under control.
Don’t settle for bland sound bites. People are upset and scared. Say you will ask your Justice Department to look at prosecuting some of the worst offenders in the subprime mortgage scandal, such as the CEO of Country Wide Mortgage, who walked away with $200 million, while ruining his bank, and leaving tens of thousands of customers facing foreclosure. Throw some meat. Suggest you will try to extend the statutes of limitations for white collar crime, and stiffen the penalties.
Even if the banks are not too big, they probably do have too much power. Keep pounding away that you want to undo Citizens’ United. To limit the power of the 1%., we need to undo the Citizen’s United Supreme Court Decision, and reinstate campaign finance reforms.
It is clearly wrong that a black, 16 year old, teenager gets three years in jail for shoplifting a backpack, when corporate CEO’s and CFO’s get little fines to be paid by their shareholders for stealing or mishandling millions of dollars, sometimes billions, and also get golden parachutes for severance. My god, there is anger out there for you to connect with and channel! Tell some stories, show some anger, but don’t yell.
I saw a clip of you yelling at your crowd one night, and was not impressed. You do not sound so good when yelling. You are a great talker, it is OK to use your beautiful voice. You are smart, sophisticated, and humorous. Don’t be afraid to be these things.
Here is something I wrote months ago for you, Hillary, and your campaign:
I am confident you can handle Bernie Sanders, try some new lines like: “I don’t promise you a revolution, I promise you real solutions, and progressive evolution. If you want me to lead a progressive revolution, give me a House of Representatives and a Senate controlled by progressive Democrats.
The world is threatened by severe environmental changes. The world will thank you if you sweep the climate change deniers out of the way so we can address serious problems with solutions supported by science.
Many analysts say that the House can’t be won back in one election. The progressive Revolution is easy to promise, but difficult to deliver. What my leadership and administration will be able to deliver, realistically, is incremental and achievable improvements on the progressive agenda. With a green Democratic House and Senate, we could have a revolution of economic restoration through sustainable growth and clean energy development.”
The best way to beat Bernie Sanders is with love and appreciation. You want his supporters, but you will be able to replace his most radical ones with centrist Republicans and Independents who support a US role in the world, international trade and action against climate change.
Old note: You should support Glass-Steagall, or explain in detail why you do not need to. You need to remind the public that you took speaking fees from big banks to support your family and work to rebuild the middle class, and so you could support the extraordinary work of the Clinton foundation. Cite sources for why we shouldn’t break up the big banks, like Steve Eisman, and his brilliant column in the NYT, who wrote, “The main problems were not the size of the banks, but their leverage ratios, which Dodd Frank has fixed.” You told me in a debate that Dodd Frank was good, but not why it was good.
Old note: Please review Maureen Dowd’s op-ed of Feb 6, ’16, “Hillary Battles Bernie Sanders.” 75% is useful. Remember the wisdom of the Toyota Motor Company using Bell Labs quality management, Treat every complaint as a nugget of gold. Learn from every mistake.” She remarks that the yelling doesn’t work. This leads to the next section. You can not collect good information if you do not make it easy to send it in.
Web and Email Communication issues.
After one debate, I tried to send some speech writing advice to Hillary Clinton or her campaign, but her website was like a lock box. I couldn’t get any email to use, so I never even typed up the advice till now.
I was appalled by the Hillary Clinton’s web site, which forced you to give your email and then a donation, just to get to the data on the website. It was heavy handed, aggressive and stupid. Thank god that part has been fixed.
There is still something wrong with Hillary’s electronic communications team. Her campaign email communications have bad breath, and are managed by insensitive people. You do not impress your donors and fans by exposing them to constant email abuse. Right around Christmas, 2015, I sent in $25. In the next 30 days I got approximately 30 emails begging me hysterically for more. I’m unemployed, or on unpaid book leave, and have two kids in college. I was embarrassed for Hillary and her thuggish email fundraisers.
Change your website, so it invites comments of any length, and allows writers to send in an email to an address where intelligent workers will read, sort and respond, while someone trustworthy is mining the advice for you . You and your staff appear to be cut off from the public. One local female corporate lawyer said at a party, “Hillary’s campaign is in a closed bubble. They don’t listen or respond, unless you hit them over the head with a 2 by 4. (Marilyn Fagelson). She and I agree that your PR apparatus appears to be stupid: as in insensitive, and hermetically sealed.
Your supporters should be allowed to email your campaign with a message, without filling out an obnoxious form each time. Registration should be an option, not a requirement. I have sent in snippets from your off-putting site, and never received a single acknowledgement. I just get, “Please chip in,” over and over, and “Can’t you come up with $19 or more today?” No wonder most young people prefer Bernie Sanders. They can’t come up with another $19 every time they communicate with you or make a donation. Invite the public to join your team with volunteer activities, money or both. Show some respect to those who feel they can’t afford another $19. Remember, you are expected to show empathy.
Please continue to be wonderful and fabulous, and have someone clean up your campaign, email abuse, fundraising fiasco. I think you should add David Lindsay and Kathleen Schomaker to your active political consultants to do that very job.
There are important pieces to mine, for changing the negative media messages, and to fight false narratives: The New York Times endorsement, Hillary for the Democratic Nomination on 1/30/2016! And Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest? The “Crooked Hillary” narrative is fundamentally unfair. nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof (Posted on April 25, 2016 .
David Lindsay Jr.