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Jamie Raskin has a digital video out this week, and he’s promoting it on Facebook. Nothing wrong with that, but in an effort to distinguish himself from Kathleen Matthews and David Trone, Raskin’s gotten more than a little carried away. How much? So much so that he gushes “seriously, you can’t buy this!” right under the word “sponsored” on the Facebook post.


Seriously, you CAN buy this. And you just did. Seriously? “My money good, theirs bad” remains a remarkably bad persuasion technique. Seriously.

5 thoughts on “Seriously

  1. Keith Berner

    Yeah, that “seriously, you can’t buy this” is cheesy and inaccurate. It’s getting on my nerves.

    But, you consistently miss the point: it’s not that some money is good and some bad. One can’t run a modern campaign without cash. It’s that any candidate who is *only* about money is bad (Trone). A candidate who has been paying bad buys for access (Trone) is bad. A candidate with no record of working for the public good (in a legislature or elsewhere) (Trone and Matthews) is bad. In your efforts to set a level playing field between Raskin/Barve/Guitierrez, on the one hand, and Trone/Matthews on the other, you obscure not only decades of accomplishment, but also the importance of likely outcomes in Congress.

    MD-8 has the luxury of having good guys to choose from who will actually make a proactive positive difference in Congress. Neither Trone nor Matthew fit into that category and, therefore, deserve to be dismissed as deserving candidates out of hand.

    1. Jonathan Shurberg Post author

      Keith: what you say is a perfectly unobjectionable basis for an individual to choose to vote. If a voter believes that legislative experience is the sole appropriate basis for choosing, that’s their right.

      But it remains equally true that such a foundation is utterly unpersuasive to the tens of thousands of voters who don’t know any of the candidates, aren’t certain where Annapolis is, and have no idea that we even have a state legislature.

      It’s an insider’s argument to an outsider voter pool. Not only does it not persuade, it actually does more harm than good. What you correctly call “irritating” about “you can’t buy this” is more than that to a low information voter – it’s insulting, offensive, off-putting, self-congratulatory, and alienating.

      There’s a better way to make the argument you put forward – just make it. “Here’s my accomplishments, here’s what I’ve done, here’s what I hope to do, and here’s why you can and should trust me to do it.” Bread, butter, no frills. There’s not enough “hope to do” in Raskin’s appeal, IMHO, but the rest is there. But it gets lost in the cacophony and the noise.

      My suggestion: he should strip it down, get rid of the noise, and just make his case. It’s a pretty damn good case, if only he’d stop preaching to the choir and MAKE IT. And as I said elsewhere, exercise message discipline. Sometimes saying nothing to a reporter is the best course of action.

      1. Keith Berner

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jonathan. I agree with much of what you’re saying. Jamie’s messaging (apart from the video itself) is nowhere near as clean and clear as it should be.

        But my point is not only about legislative experience. It is about a proven commitment to the greater good. That comes not only in legislatures, for sure. But it certainly doesn’t come from selling liquor and purchasing support from hard-right GOPers or from shilling for a giant corporation. There are two classes of candidates in this race: those who have been fighting all along for a better world and those who woke up yesterday and decided they like the sound of Congressman David Trone/Congresswoman Kathleen Matthews.

        Beyond Raskin, certainly Barve and Gutierrez are in the former class. Jawando is ambiguous (he has done worthy public policy work, but has never done anything for *this* community; his grab of Big Pharma money was despicable). I don’t know enough about the others to comment.

        1. Jonathan Shurberg Post author

          Putting aside whether I agree with your arguments (some, not all), what I’m talking about is persuasion. There’s a significant segment of the electorate that agrees wholeheartedly with what you’re saying.

          Is it enough, on its own, to win? I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. That’s why I’m critical of the persuasion effort – good, broad-based persuasion uses various means to approach different groups of voters in ways that those voters are likely to respond positively to. “Truth” in politics is a slippery concept – what is gospel to one voter doesn’t even get a twitch out of another.

          I wish I was seeing less “you can’t buy this” and more varied ways of reaching voters who aren’t in the bubble, who aren’t already predisposed to vote for Raskin, and who need a different approach. Some of those approaches might make those of us deep in the weeds feel a little nauseous, but so what? We’ve already made up our minds one way or the other, many of us probably within days after Barbara Mikulski’s bomb dropped just over a year ago now (I forgot to appropriately observe the March 2 milestone earlier this week).

          What matters now, 51 days out, is not what you think or I think about the relative merits of the candidates, but what the enormous mass of undecided and often low information voters out there are thinking, and what’s being done to persuade them. “You can’t buy this” is just not going to work, IMHO, and I’ve heard similar thoughts from dozens of people over the past couple of weeks.

          That’s why I’ve said what I’ve said, in as light and hopefully funny a way as possible. But behind the humor is some deadly serious business. No matter what, I want this election to be as fair a contest between the competing visions and qualifications of the candidates as possible.

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