Let’s Be Frank
03.19.14 9:45 AM ET
Dems Need to Channel ‘House of Cards’’ Frank Underwood
Attention Democrats: You’re going to get crushed this November!
In fact, RNC chair Reince Priebus is so confident that on Tuesday he boasted: “We’re in for a tsunami-type election in 2014...it’s going to be a very big win!” It’s not often you see a guy trash talking his opponents so publicly for fear it will get them worked up. But that’s how cocky Priebus and the Republicans are, especially after their victory last week in the special congressional election in Florida.
So Democrats, you have two options: One, get destroyed in November (Think meat being tenderized with a hammer.) Or, two: Ask yourself what would Frank Underwood do, and then start doing that. And for those who have no idea who that is because you don’t watch House of Cards, all I can say is: What’s wrong with you people?! Underwood is like a Democratic version of Karl Rove, except Underwood is both more likeable and more lethal. Although I think Rove might agree with Underwood’s philosophy: “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties.”
I’m not saying that Democrats should follow Underwood’s literal lead and (spoiler alert!) push a person in front of a train. But it’s time to do things that would make Machiavelli proud—and maybe even blush.
For starters, they must remember: “It’s the turnout, stupid.” If voter turnout this November is 40 percent or below, the Democrats will lose badly. We saw this in last week’s special election where turnout was 39 percent and the Republicans won. But in 2012, turnout was 64 percent and Obama carried the district.
In the 2010 midterm election, turnout was 41 percent, well below 61 percent of the 2008 election that carried Obama into the White House. Consequently, Democrats lost six seats in the Senate and a whopping 63 in the House.
The same disastrous result befell George W. Bush in the 2006 midterm elections where the 40 percent turnout translated into Democrats taking control of both the House and Senate. In these elections, the people who voted wanted to send a message to the President that they didn’t like what he was doing.
Bottom line: Democrats need to focus on inspiring the people who were part of Obama's winning coalitions in 2008 and 2012 to vote this November. Maybe take a page from Republicans who in 2004 were able to get gay marriage bans on the ballots in 11 States. This motivated conservatives to vote.
Democrats should champion ballot measures that will bring out their voting base, such as proposals to raise the minimum wage. In fact, minimum wage initiatives are on the ballot in a few Senate battleground states such as Arkansas and South Dakota.
Democrats should also consider pushing for ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana since House Republicans voted last week to demand that Obama crack down on States that have done so.
Another move Dems might consider is helping to elect the worst Republican candidate in the primary. We saw this in 2012 when Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill did her part to help Todd “legitmate rape” Akin secure the GOP nomination. Akin won the primary, which helped McCaskill win the general election. This move was quintessential Underwood. After all, he told us—in his smarmy, southern lilt: “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.”
There are a few Republicans in key Senate races that hold the promise of a Todd Akin. For example, Georgia’s Rep. Paul Broun commented last week that he would only vote for laws that agree with the Bible, so get ready for legislation that mandates woman who aren’t virgins on their wedding night be stoned to death.
And in North Carolina you have two right wing GOP frontrunners: Thom Tillis who recently stated that the minimum wage should be eliminated and Greg Brannon who claimed that Planned Parenthood wants to not only abort fetuses, but also wants to kill newborns. (He claims it’s a “slippery slope.”)
While former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank feels House of Cards is “cartoonish” and doesn’t represent what truly happens in Washington DC, he did advocate a few ideas for Democrats, the best being very Underwoodian in principle: scare people.
A campaign bumper sticker he once had sums up this strategy: “Vote Democratic: We may not be perfect, but they are nuts.” Frank also recommends that Democrats run ads highlighting the Senators who will be in control of the chamber if the GOP wins control, like global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe.
A Democratic strategist, who wanted to remain anonymous, says a real Underwood move would be for a Democratic incumbent to run 100 percent against Obamacare. The person could claim they had a “come to Jesus moment,” says the strategist, and now sees that Obamacare must go. This will undercut the GOP’s main (read: only) issue for 2014.
More Dems suggested that their party use every federal agency to investigate the Koch brothers, a la Raymond Tusk—a two-faced billionaire with ties to the president in the Netflix series—while other lefties recommended enacting laws that would make it more difficult for older white people to vote like the Republicans have done with voter ID laws to disenfranchise minority voters. (They were, of course, joking.)
So here we are, seven months before the election. Will the Democrats engage in an aggressive, hardball type strategy? Or, will they be led like lambs to the slaughter? Sure, the Republican party might look like an unbeatable behemoth right now, but when Frank Underwood was confronted with a similar foe, he instructively commented: “You devour a whale…one bite at a time.” It’s your call Dems: Either channel F.U or have a lot more time to watch him on TV next year after you lose.