It’s Tuesday, 28 June, 2022 in Portland, Oregon, and it is nowhere near as hot today as it was yesterday.
Yesterday, I ranted a little about the state of democrats dot org, the website of the U.S. Democratic Party, and how a website can reflect a perceived (or, worse, actual) lack of goal/vision/strategy. Which right now, is super upsetting, to put it mildly.
All this is in the context of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the main Federal protection for the right to abortion.
Today I got pointed to defendchoice.org, which is about 12 days old (and, thus, if it were implemented and deployed as a website running on a substrate of fetal cells, would be a project that you’d have to support forever).
Defend Choice is a collaboration between the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
So, that’s three different bits of “the Democrats”:
First, some good news!
The House committee website has a giant modal that says this:
YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS IN THIS MOMENT.
THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS WANTED TO PROTECT ROE, REPUBLICANS JUST RIPPED IT AWAY ANYWAY.
JOIN OUR FIGHT TO DEFEND CHOICE.
And the last part, of course, is the button call-to-action that leads you to, er, donate money, with copy like this:
The Supreme Court may have overturned Roe v. Wade – but anti-choice Republicans aren’t done yet, and fight for reproductive rights continues.
Chip in now to elect pro-choice House Democrats and defend reproductive freedoms.
Some notes! I love doing notes.
If I were tweaking the copy, I’d do this:
And then, there’s the most problematic part, because the call to action is JOIN OUR FIGHT TO DEFEND CHOICE, and there’s a super good argument that we shouldn’t pussy-foot around what we’re talking about here and be clear about this being THE RIGHT TO ABORTION. So, let’s try:
JOIN OUR FIGHT TO DEFEND THE RIGHT TO ABORTION.
We can have a whole conversation about whether that word is scary, or whether we should push through. I’m in favor of pushing through! You’ll never know if you don’t try, and maybe don’t negotiate with yourself first? You might be surprised with how you’re received if you’re more plain-speaking.
But I said this is problematic. It’s because the result of JOINING OUR FIGHT is just donating money.
There’s no there, there. So I could suggest all the copy changes that I could, but like a lot of people have been pointing out, there’s no plan other than raising money, at least no clear plan.
One valid criticism is that we’ve been donating to Democrats for years, and presumably they’ve been defending the right to abortion the whole time. So what’s different this time? There’s no communication, no clear pitch about what’s going to change. Just that the Dems need your money. Still.
So in a way, while this is better than the shitty, anodyne democrats dot org website, it’s also in a way worse. Because all it does is ask for money, without that clear plan. So: better communication, but better comms without that goal/strategy/plan? You end up getting dinged.
Next, it’s the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee!
Actually, a quick note here. I get that your formal name is that you’re the Congress/Senate committees but nobody cares that that’s your name other than regulatory bodies, and you can appease them by sticking your Proper Name down in the footer and hiding it, but maybe considering having a better title? One that’s more… action oriented?
Anyway, the DSCC is, well, not great. There’s a modal that has white text on black and white imagery so it’s not even easy to read, and it’s… a call to action to donate money! Here’s the copy>
Donate now to defend a woman’s right to choose!
The Supreme Court has officially voted to overturn Roe v. Wade – and defending our Senate majority has never been more important. Rush a donation now to elect Democratic senators who will protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.
Okay so, see, the problem here is that you’re saying you want to defend your Senate majority, but the real issue is that you have a technical Senate majority, but in practice it’s turned out to be useless for getting the job done, i.e. codifying the right to abortion in legislation. What you actually want is to grow the Senate majority so that legislating the right to abortion is an easy/easier slam-dunk.
Just like with the Congressional Committee, the language implies that you’ve got to donate to elect senators who will “protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions” (way to avoid saying the word again, well done), which means… what have we been doing this whole time?
Here’s the copy after the CTA, again on actblue, which at this point I have to believe is, cynically, some sort of great middleman payment skimmer to make money off outraged people wanting to donate money to not actually achieve change:
Save Our Reproductive Rights!
Republican attacks on abortion access, birth control, and women’s health care have dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election.
Please, this couldn’t be more urgent: Pitch in now to defend the Senate and STOP Republicans’ attacks on women’s rights:
Um. Some feedback!
Okay. So that’s the Senate and House campaigns, which are Not Great, let’s take a look at DefendChoice.org, which is totally in blue and hot pink and totally reminiscent of Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal show, almost as if someone gave the creative brief of “hey, what’s that show with the angry white lady on TBS? Make it look like that”.
Simple website, big copy up front, but it’s in a giant paragraph:
Extreme Republicans are threatening abortion access, and electing and reelecting Democrats in November will determine if women can make their own health care decisions.
“[and] electing and reelecting Democrats in November will determine if women can make their own health care decisions.”
First, we’ve already elected Democrats. You already have a majority in the house. So what’s going to be different if you have a bigger majority? What are you going to do? There’s not really much to be done about fixing this para, because “will determine if women can make their own health care decisions” is a long-ass clause that had me nodding off as soon as I saw the word after “will” was so much more than three characters”.
Then there’s more!
With Republicans in power, they could impose cruel new laws that would punish women seeking abortions and doctors who provide them.
Look, maybe you haven’t been saying this, but maybe try:
“Republicans in power are making cruelty the point. Their laws punish anyone who wants an abortion, and punish everyone who helps them.”
I’d even want to make that tighter and punchier, but you know, I only spent 5 seconds on it.
We have to fight back. Find out how you can get involved in your community to protect abortion rights by helping elect Democrats in 2022. In this action center, we share resources and places to direct your attention to help take action and speak out.
Look: we “have” to fight back? Again, what have you been doing? Also, Jesus, make this tighter!
Get involved in your community, with your neighbors and friends.
But then we lose the plot again, because the plan is about electing Democrats in 2022, and you just haven’t told us what you’re going to do when we’ve elected you. I live in Oregon, so I click on Oregon and I come to… the Democratic Party of Oregon’s website, which is just a generic Volunteer landing page, and says nothing about actual steps to legislating the right to abortion.
Okay, California normally have their shit together, let’s see what they’ve got… Clicking on California takes me to… a page called Build the House - California, where the hierarchy hits the “Closest events this week”, listening a 4th July Parade, a Phone Bank for a candidate for congress, and also canvassing for JOSH HARDER which, come on, if you’re English and you know people who went to public school, that name basically means TRY MORE TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH. But I digress, Josh can’t do anything about his name.
So while the messaging is slightly better with defendchoice.org, the actual strategy is still non-existent. There’s still no coordination. There’s a landing page that might do a better job at converting attention to dollars for candidates, but there’s still nothing that says “here’s how we’re coordinating candidates, here’s the three points every single candidate has signed up to.”
Because otherwise, you’re just trying to raise money on empty promises you haven’t fulfilled before. And we’re only talking about the right to abortion here.
Okay, that’s it. Again. Sorry.
How are you doing?