Now that the initial sting from the midterm election defeat has subsided slightly, I can start to analyze the state of play. Here’s where my mind’s at – I want to send Alec Baldwin to Washington, but not as an elected official.
I want Alec to march into the White House Communications Office and deliver a rousing encore performance of “Blake” from the classic indie flick, Glengarry Glen Ross. I want to hear him wake the troops at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and remind them about their ABC’s.
“A, B, C… A. Always. B. Be. C. Closing. Always be closing… You close or you hit the bricks.”
While Baldwin’s performance was unmistakably coarse, the point is extremely important. Whether in politics or sales, you must offer a compelling narrative or, as Baldwin said, “hit the bricks.”
The midterm election shake-up was simply the result of a blown sales call. The Democratic Party and the White House failed to articulate a compelling closing argument.
I first heard this notion several weeks before the election at a book reading headlined by Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME. Halperin listed a litany of President Obama’s achievements since taking office, but noted that without the right narrative, he would suffer considerable losses on November 2.
Former Maine Governor Angus King, now a distinguished lecturer at Bowdoin College, took this idea further with some keen political analysis. In a post for the Bowdoin Daily Sun, King delivers a pop quiz on the state of our union; making the point that the Democrats failure to communicate led to electoral downfall. Here’s just one excerpt:
“Identify on the following graph the bar for the month when Barack Obama was sworn in as POTUS:
That’s right, it’s the longest bar, representing 750,000 jobs lost that month. As you can see, the jobs picture has been steadily improving ever since and we’ve been in plus territory for the past eight months. Last month, for example, saw an increase of 151,000 jobs. Bonus fact: number of net new jobs created during the eight years of the (anti-business) Clinton administration: 23 million; number of net new jobs created during the eight years of the (pro-business) Bush administration: 3 million.”
I recommend reading the rest of King’s quiz while remembering the rhetoric of the 2010 campaign season. Democrats missed a great opportunity to frame the debate. A failure to define yourself and your position serves as an open invitation to others to fill in the blanks. And, because Democrats failed to close, many of them hit the bricks.
Maybe it’s too late for Alec Baldwin to make his entrance.