Current Affairs

Democrats’ Revised Talking Points for the Biden Era

“Remember that stuff we said a couple months ago? Please don’t.”

Our Fellow Democrats,

First of all, let’s give ourselves a big hand! Thanks to your tireless efforts, billions of dollars of fundraising, and online takedowns of Bernie Sanders and his attention-seeking mittens, the blue team has taken back the White House, retained many of our seats in the House of Representatives, and won control of the Senate by a margin not seen since 2000! Voters supported Team Biden because they believed us when we said that Joe’s first 100 days would be the most transformative since those of FDR. Now, we must buckle down and do the hard work of making them forget we said that. Please take a minute to review this list of last election cycle’s Democratic talking points and how best to tweak them now that we’re in power.

Sincerely,

The DNC

“Foreign election interference” → “Bolstering democracy abroad” 

Russian tampering in the 2016 election was the biggest threat to our democracy and the most important news story of the last four years. Luckily, it didn’t happen in 2020. Now that that’s all behind us, we should acknowledge that some elections do require a bit of adjustment, sometimes from the good people of our very own CIA, in order to ensure that they turn out as democratically as possible. Sadly, the Cheeto-in-Chief cared more about denying his own involvement with Russia than about getting involved elsewhere, resulting in not one but two failed South American coups on his watch. As we bravely part with the failed policies of the Trump years, let’s pivot away from talking about “election interference” and shift attention toward “bolstering democracy abroad.” 

“Reckless warmongering” → “Restoring American global leadership” 

What a relief to finally pry the nuclear codes away from Dangerous Donald! Remember how that lunatic tried to start a war with North Korea? How he tried to start a war with Iran without filling out all the proper paperwork? How he dropped that one, huge bomb on Afghanistan instead of peppering it with little bombs? Scary stuff! But perhaps the scariest thing of all is how Trump normalized the idea that America might not need to involve itself in armed conflict in the Middle East in perpetuity. That could have huge implications for global stability, not to mention the financial stability of our donors at Boeing and Northrop Grumman. In order to rectify this—and soothe the jangled nerves of our friends in the defense industry—the Biden administration is going to have to do some saber-rattling of its own. As we celebrate Joe’s first Middle Eastern bombing, let’s move away from rhetoric that questions the wisdom of giving an impulsive septuagenarian the power to kill anyone, anywhere, without prior approval from Congress, and instead support “a robust national security policy” and “restoring American leadership on the global stage.”

“Toxic masculinity” → ”Hands-on manliness”

The last four years were a case study in toxic masculinity from the occupant of the White House. In the 2020 election, Democrats sent a clear message that TOXIC. MASCULINITY. IS. NOT. OK. However, the primary race also revealed to us the danger of going too far in the other direction, as yet another irrational, probably jealous (and possibly menstruating?) woman tried to take down Uncle Joe by claiming he sexually assaulted her. In light of this, plus that hair-sniffing video, we worry that phrases like “toxic masculinity” have themselves become toxic. The preferred term under a Biden presidency will therefore be “old-fashioned, hands-on American manliness.”

[NOTE: The White House understands that many of our friends, allies, and donors would prefer the President not be allowed to touch their daughters, granddaughters, and other female relatives during upcoming photo-ops. We are sensitive to these concerns and ask that they be raised with us in advance of such meetings. We will do our best to make sure that a member of Team Biden is on hand with a spray bottle to squirt our commander-in-chief whenever it looks like he’s about to fondle your loved one’s hair while muttering, “I tell ya, these are the softest follicles this side of the Alleghenies.”]

“Black lives matter” → “Kindness matters” 

The Democratic Party owes an enormous debt to the Black voters who got Joe across the line (although we can’t help but notice that an increasing number of Black men apparently think it’s “gangsta” to vote for Donald Trump). Black lives matter, and Black votes matter! But so do the votes of white suburbanites to whom “Black lives matter” apparently means to “Ilhan Omar is going to do white genocide.” While Congresswoman Omar assures us she has no such plans, we must nonetheless recognize that phrases like “Black lives matter,” “defund the police,” and “don’t shoot me” have become hopelessly divisive. Let’s lower our rhetorical guns (while instructing the police to aim their real guns at the legs, rather than the torso) and shift the focus toward our common humanity. We’re all human beings, right? Let’s just be kind to each other!

“Healthcare is a human right” → “Healthcare is a nice treat” 

This is a bold statement of principle, not to mention a great campaign slogan, so let’s put it back on the shelf until at least the midterms. A more responsible phrase to use would be “access to reasonably-priced healthcare is definitely something we’d hope most Americans could expect to be offered (if they want it).”

“$2,000 checks” → lol  

Can you believe they fell for this one?

“We believe scientists” → “We ‘believe scientists’” 

We’re not actually changing this one, we just want to be clear about what it does and doesn’t imply. Democrats continue to believe scientists in the sense that, broadly speaking, it is not the position of the Democratic Party that every scientist is a liar. We believe them when they tell us that if we don’t take radical action in the next decade, we will do irreparable damage to our planet, leading to suffering on an almost incomprehensible scale. When using this messaging, however, it’s important to make it clear that believing scientists and acting on that belief are two very different things. We believe scientists, but we also believe the fossil fuel tycoons who supported us in 2020 when they tell us there’s more where that came from. That actually brings us to the next point:

“Climate crisis” → “Climate opportunity 

We’re blown away by the efforts you tree-huggers put into fighting the Trump administration’s anti-climate agenda! Thank you for your service! Now, please stand down. Instead of using hysterical language to discourage common-sense energy sector practices such as fracking, exploratory drilling under Old Faithful, and harpooning polar bears to see if maybe there’s some oil inside of them, please instead talk up “opportunities for environmental innovation that incorporate feedback from our energy sector partners.”

Art by Matt Lubchansky
“Kids in cages” → [redacted] 

OK, this is a big one. A lot of us protested, tweeted about, and fundraised off the Trump administration’s continuation and expansion of the Obama administration’s policy of sometimes putting kids in cages (special shoutout to those of you who have pointed out that Obama meant well!). Let’s all take a second to think about the tremendous work we did in calling out Trump’s crimes against humanity. Now that that’s all behind us, let’s think also of the humanity of the brave men and women of Homeland Security, from the border guards to ICE’s squad of professional kidnappers. Are they not also human beings? By criticizing them, do we not, in a sense, put them in a cage—a cage of judgement? Let’s not be complicit in their caging. We highly recommend dropping all mentions of child-cages entirely.

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