Because blue-collar voters in swing states are so crucial to this election, we thought we’d watch a couple videos of Hillary Clinton’s stump speeches, to see what messages she was bringing to the hard-working people of Ohio, Florida, and the country at large.
To be honest, we were appalled. Clinton and her staff seem to have ignored every lesson they should have learned from a successful Democratic convention and from the wildly popular insurgent campaigns of Sanders and Trump. Here are just a few of the things missing from Clinton’s stump speech:
- No call for change and reforms in Washington
- Little empathy or acknowledgment of financially strapped families
- No emphasis on traditional American and Democratic values. The whole thing is mostly uninspiring policy wonkishness
- A few jabs at Trump, but no major contrasts between progressive and conservative values and beliefs, and no full-on attack on conservatism. With Trump at the top of the ticket, Democrats have a golden opportunity to sully the conservative brand by linking it to him. Why aren’t they doing it?
- No point-by-point rundown of what Democrats will do for blue-collar workers. She does talk in detail about policies, and they will help the middle class, but she doesn’t really frame them as such.
- Very few personal anecdotes about why she’s running for office, her core beliefs, and the mission that drives her, which were so effective at the convention
As much as we’re fans of Clinton, she will never be a captivating speaker. Fine. But at least her messages can be sharp. Sadly, they aren’t. They’re not even close. Clinton’s stump speech is as dry and lifeless as a poli-sci lecture from your least-favorite professor. It’s all head and no heart.
She starts out with her requisite howdy-dos to local pols, and then almost immediately launches straight into a litany of policy positions:
- Creating jobs
- Stimulating growth by developing our infrastructure
- Small business development (with a few digs at Trump for refusing to pay his contractors)
- Raising the minimum wage
- Equal pay for women
- Improving education and increasing teacher pay
- Affordable college tuition
- And so on
Are you still reading?
All this is important, sure—and certainly a contrast to Trump’s mindless generalities. But good Lord, where is the soul? After all that’s happened this election season, Madame Secretary—after all we’ve learned about the pent-up anger and frustration of the electorate—this is what you think voters are hungry to hear? Infrastructure? Americans need spiritual nourishment. They need a leader who understands that many of them feel abandoned by politicians who seem more interested in money and special interests than in improving the lives of everyday people. They need to know what you stand for. They need inspiration.
We hope other Democratic candidates nationwide aren’t making the same mistakes. Just for the record, here are the elements we believe should be part of every candidate’s stump speech:
- Start with the general and work toward the specific.
- Begin with a declaration of your values—not your policy positions. Tell your audience what you and the Democratic Party believe in, and how those beliefs reflect traditional American values.
- Throw in a dollop of patriotism, American exceptionalism, and positivity. Remind us why we’re proud to be Americans.
- Outline three or four major issues—the ones most important to your audience. Unlike Clinton, try to avoid a laundry list of position statements. Be specific, and use anecdotes and unassailable facts to make your case.
- Describe how you’re going to tackle those issues.
- Contrast your views with your opponent’s. Globalize your argument—don’t just attack your opponent, attack conservatism. Try to undermine the very foundation of conservative ideology.
- End on a hopeful, upbeat note and a call to action.
In our next post, we’ll try to practice what we preach and take a stab at writing the stump speech Clinton should be delivering.