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“Revolution” v. “Calm”

By Derrick Crowe
March 11, 2020

Last night, Democrats flocked to the polls, voted for the candidate who opposes Medicare for All, and then told exit pollsters that they favor it. It’s similar to climate change, in which people favor vigorous action by large majorities but fail to vote for it.

Look at Mississippi. Biden humiliated Sanders there.

BIDEN: 81.1%
SANDERS: 14.8%

But NBC’s exit polls show 62 PERCENT of Democratic voters support “replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone.”

It’s the same with climate change. In Mississippi, 80% support R&D funding for green energy, 69% support regulating CO2 as a pollutant, 63% favor a carbon tax, etc. etc.

This should *NOT* be a comfort to progressives to take the sting out of the loss. This is a sign we are losing elections we should be winning, we are allowing corporate friendly actors to claim support they don’t have, and we are losing YEARS of action on life/death crises.

The results suggest that the lure of “calm” that Biden et. al. are offering is EXTREMELY powerful, and Sanders’ language of “political revolution” is overwhelming older voters’ tolerance for instability even when they strongly agree with Sanders’ policies.

Sanders and allies need to quickly reevaluate his language and framing (not his policies). I would suggest recasting the basic frame as:

“Calm/stability & well-being vs. crisis & harm.”

  • Our households are in crisis.
  • Our communities are in crisis.
  • Our country is in crisis.
  • Our planet is in crisis.

Sanders’ policies aim to end those crises and remove the poison of deprivation and systemic racism that prevent ALL of us from reaching stability and calm TOGETHER. You can’t expect people to be calm when their lives are at risk or they’re on the edge of disaster.

That’s a fundamentally different frame from “political revolution.” It doesn’t mean you don’t name bad guys & seek to drive them from power. But it does mean you think about what emotions you cue up when people go to vote. Fear is the thing they live in. Calm/stability/an end to crisis is what they want.