It’s Monday, June 27, 2022 in Portland, Oregon and I have the air conditioning on because it is hot. I am also angry. Angry and hot aren’t a great combination, but here we are.
I was vaguely trying to not write about The Political Situation Here In The U.S. because, you know, it fucking sucks, but I’ve had at least one very angry thread on Twitter about the response of the democrats dot org, which is to say a bunch of armchair-located yelling at how stupendously limp the Dems are at, well… getting certain stuff done?
I will preface this with a bunch of “yes, politics is hard” and also things like “while Dems technically control all three of the three-minus-one branches of government they actually in practice do not, which is why it is hard to get things done” so take all of that as read. (The Dems do indeed have absolute, wafer-thin majorities in the Senate and House and they do have the Presidency, but the effective, practical majority in the Senate is non-existent because Manchin isn’t really a Democrat since he doesn’t vote with them on substantive issues). I mean Jesus, I’m sorry to every single person reading this who isn’t affected by American politics, and especially all the Brits. Sorry. I’m really sorry. But I’ve been told that some of this applies to our equally ineffectual Labour and Lib Dem parties, like it has done since I was born, so at least for 40 years. I guess if you want, you could skip the bit where D:Ream were briefly the official anthem of Tony Blair and The Third Way, that weird band.
Anyway, anyway, anyway.
So. It’s about a month after the draft decision removing Federal protection for abortion leaked, and the homepage of the democrats dot org first hits you with a modal, essentially saying “give us money and we’ll do something”, but the headline is about “donating now to help elect Democrats” when honestly, I don’t particularly care about electing Democrats, I care about, you know, not losing rights.
The short version of this is that any content strategy team worth their salt would be able to knock this out of the park. The draft decision has been waiting for a month. A bowling alley has a better content scheduling calendar than this. It’s 4th of July in exactly a week and for some reason, there isn’t a giant honking:
THIS YEAR, REPUBLICANS ARE CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY BY TAKING AWAY WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE. HERE’S HOW WE’RE FIGHTING BACK.
But no, there isn’t. And for that messaging or comms to even be effective, there’s got to be a substantive strategy and point of view behind it. So the inescapable conclusion is that there isn’t a substantive, sharp strategy and point of view, which is why, roughly speaking, most Democratic communication and interviews around this at the Federal level is things like:
We will explore all options and do everything we can
Which if you’re paying attention sounds awfully like “we do not have a plan, we have no specifics, we have nothing to offer you but thoughts and prayers”. I mean, how credulous do you think people are?
Some more notes:
I mean come on. The Onion did a better job with its front page, which sure, it’s The Onion’s job, but why aren’t there super angry hilarious incisive cutting Buzzfeed listicles even-your-grandparents-would-forward-it “content” here so every single Whatsapp is jammed?
There’s a press release page! Nobody cares about press releases! You know the kind of company that has a press release page? It’s the official Coca-Cola company that has a press release page, and nobody reads that either
Today, like, three whole days after the abortion decision came down, the third most important thing on the top nav (after Who We Are, which always belies a telling-you-what-we-want-you-to-know attitude, rather than one informed by research about what people actually want from you, after Where We Stand) is Take Action and you know what Take Action says? This is the copy for Take Action:
WELCOME TO ORGANIZE EVERYWHERE. We are meeting voters where they are, whether it is two years or two days from an election. With your help, our team can have real conversations with voters about the issues that matter to them, and build the Democratic organizing infrastructure needed for years to come. There are many important fights ahead, so we’ll plug you in wherever you’re most passionate, or wherever you’re needed most – no matter where you live. Join one of our volunteer teams below, and own a piece of this movement! We can’t wait to organize with you.
a) that copy is too long b) yes yes you read a book about “meeting people where they are” you don’t have to tell them about it like you’re getting brownie points, you just meet them where they are. c) “With your help, our team can have real conversations” I mean COME ON. You’re not having real conversations already? At least say you’re going to have MORE real conversations, or that you want to have real conversations with EVERY VOTER. You’re asking to build the Democratic organizing infrastructure that’s needed for years to come… so… you have nothing now? Really? That’s either super insulting to what already exists (you should damn well apologize to Stacey Abrams), or admitting that you don’t have anything which means you need to be super honest about how fucked we are!
This website isn’t for anyone. It implies a party that doesn’t know who it’s for because it’s so restrained and so afraid. It offers no plans, and is afraid to offer specifics up front. It doesn’t show that it cares or that it wants to fight, instead it shows that it wants to be reasonable or inoffensive.
Instead, the GOP dot com runs with a two word phrase completely packed with meaning, i.e. FREEDOM MATTERS, it wants you to join with MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOU, and it wants you to join in a fight and yes I get that you want to compromise and reach across the aisle and politics is the art of the possible, but compromising is a method, not a goal, and right now the GOP have shown that the art of the possible is “getting whatever the fuck we want” because we’ve focussed on it for the last 40 years.
And sure, I understand that part of the reason is that, I don’t know, Dems couldn’t agree their way out of an escape room that’s just a very well lit storage unit with an open door, but here, you need a fucking plan.
I had a whole other thread where I explained that wanting to DO SOMETHING in my case actually meant have a coherent plan to win the votes so you can deliver on your clear platform of actual results for people, because I completely accept that you don’t have a workable majority. But, like, there are things you can do on the way? You know, people can understand dependencies. They (we) can understand that sometimes you have to do x before you can y. We can even understand that something might take longer – though we will certainly be angry about that. Perhaps you could use that anger to motivate us! But maybe use a device like a moon shot? Tell us what you’re aiming to deliver by 2032, which is a good 2.5 presidential terms away. Give progress updates all along the way. For god’s sake, stop thinking from election to election at the Federal level, and just join everything up from local all the way up to Federal and have everything make some goddamn sense. We’re already losing what made this country progressive tiny bit by tiny bit.
Okay, some other stuff too, I guess.
Ollie Toms at Rock Paper Shotgun did an extremely thorough grading of the best rain in video games.
Caught my attention because: in attempting to rate / compare rain-qualia, Toms came up with criteria including petrichor, etheralness and tranquility.
Back in 2015, Transport for London replied to a Freedom of Information request asking for maps of Tube interchange stations with eight Tube lines worth of axonometric station plans.
Caught my attention because: I re-learned what axonometric projections are, which Ian Visits says aren’t to scale.
Gentler Streak is an exercise app that is designed around, er, not crushing it when it comes to fitness and health?
Caught my attention because: the founder talks about the app suggesting rest days in an interview, and the app’s also one of those that benefits from government funding (the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union), which nicely pattern-matches into my “apps and models that aren’t Up And To The Right-Focussed, and how the E.U. might distinguish itself from the U.S.)
Okay, that’s it. How are you doing?
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