View the archive of my 90-minute class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about what we can do right away to ensure that America survives – and about the perspective you need to make sure your time and your attention are focused on all we need to do together.
My name is Rick Wilson. I’m an ex-Republican political strategist, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, and best-selling author. I’d like to invite you to join me in my upcoming class, Five Things I’ve Learned About How We Win the Messaging Wars and Save Democracy.
This is an important class, and in our 90-minutes together I’ll share some of the most important and hard-earned lessons I’ve picked up in my 30+ years of long, sometimes painful experience in politics. I’ll focus on the things that each of us – every American – can do right away to help resolve the political crisis of our time. I believe it’s up to us, really: Whether America survives and remains a functioning democracy, or collapses in the wave of the nationalism, populism, and hyper-conservativism that now defines us.
This class will be more than a profanity-laced vent session. I plan to share with you my analysis of what we all can do to make sure our democracy stands.
We’ll talk first about these five essential strategies, maxims that my time in politics has taught me are more important today than ever:
- Drive the damn bus, don’t lay down in front of it. Frame your opponent early, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Grab the wheel like you’re what’s his face in Speed, and never let go. This also means that if your opponent has got the conversation and the mike, you’ve got to flip a table over to get them back.
- Don’t bring a policy pen to a knife fight. All of us – particularly my friends in the Democratic Party – need to stop thinking that the road to glory is paved with policy. The fight we’re in will never be won on health care or infrastructure, paid leave or bunnies romping in the sunshine. Winning on policy was never true, and it will never be LESS true than in 2022. We are in a culture war. You win culture wars on emotion, and spectacle. Emotions of lift, strength, certainty and ideals–and emotions of anger, fear, and repulsion.
- Never catch the grenade. The Republican playbook is to lob some crazy attack on the Dems and then just sit back, watch, and enjoy. The Dems catch a grenade like Critical Race Theory like it’s a bouquet, bobble it around giving it weeks of play, until boom, it blows off another limb. Because it’s a grenade. Instead: Make clear that every time you hear “CRT,” they’re saying the N-word. Done. Stop waffling on and on about history and curriculum and what CRT is and is not. Better to snuff out that little nuclear fire – and every one like it– at the get-go.
- Have some damn fun and stop worrying about everything. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a poor gopher trying to undig its own hole, seeing one of my Democratic friends tiptoe around making a point without offending anyone. In Churchill’s words, people feel and trust a “vital force” in a leader, someone at ease in their own skin, someone who hasn’t pre-chewed every focus grouped word like a tinned pastry. The winningest candidates and campaigns are not worrying over everything they put out there, and second guessing the message to death.
- Sell your wins, and back your own. In my years, if a Republican leader said monkeys invented cotton candy, the Republican Party said to a man, “Good thing about monkeys, or there’d be no cotton candy!” Today too many Dems mumble their wins, bury their leads, and hash each other mercilessly rather than fall in line as allies against the true threat. In a fight this dire, every last standing enemy of my enemy is my unquestioned friend until further notice. More importantly: My Democratic friends need to shout their victories from the mountaintops, bite their tongues when they don’t agree, and start having a good time again.
I hope that in our time together, we’ll talk even more about how you can apply all that I’ve learned to make a difference on your own. I’ll focus on concrete, practical things we all can do to make a difference at the local, state, and national levels. And, I’ll give you the perspective you need to make sure that your time and your attention are focused on all we need to do together.
Please do join me.
We need you. Your country needs you. We’ll have some fun.