When a party wins an election, that party’s followers, at least in the early days, become much less persuadable than they were in the past. This is because they begin to believe that their hands are on the strings of power, that their opinions are being represented in Washington, and that they only need to protect their men in office from attacks to give them some time to implement their shared agenda.
The strings that party-people think are connected to power are actually connected to nothing but a spring that makes like it feel like there’s tension on the string. The elections are the packaging that provide a shine of legitimacy to the system that’s running on the back end. The back offices are where all the work gets done in politics.
People who think they’re in power, even if they aren’t in power, are going to feel secure in their imaginary position. They’re not going to be amenable to persuasion.
Mistaking the politicians for the leaders is like mistaking the sports star who endorses an energy drink for the scientists who develop the chemical composition of the beverage. It’s like thinking ‘Flo’ from Progressive is actually the CEO of the insurance company. It’s almost as bad as thinking that there are real elves operating the Keebler factory. While politicians do have to be able to improvise, other people write their scripts for them and provide direction. On occasion, there are gifted democratic politicians in the way that there are gifted actors. The way that these actors can be useful is in creating a lot of public enthusiasm that can be channeled towards on purpose or another, for fair reasons or foul.
The reason why it’s time to make more appeals to open-minded progressives is because when the party loses a major election, it starts to send out hunters to develop a new strategy and to build new alliances. Whereas the party in pseudo-power will tend to become more rigid and ‘practical,’ the party out of power will encourage its members to become creative and more open. No one actually needs them to take any strong actions in the immediate term, so the sheep are permitted to wander about the pasture more freely than they would otherwise be.
This is also a time when party leaders will be blaming parts of the existing coalition and burning themselves up with recriminations. This resulting alienation tends to knock some of them loose, especially if they’re young and impressionable. This represents an opportunity to skim some of the cream from the left’s coalition, and to completely demoralize those who can’t be skimmed.