So, What Do We Do
About It?

December 14, 2021

Our Chief of Business Development, Kathryn York, offers insights from her unique perspective as parent, elected official and political consultant on the current climate between parents and school board members.

On Monday night we had a school board meeting with one attendee. In another district, a friend’s board meeting “was packed – with signs and everything.”

I get it.

When parents fear major decisions get made without them, they disengage or come out swinging. Classic flight or fight. Fear of exclusion is rampant in small town Mississippi and across the country which can negatively impact upcoming elections. Or maybe, if Dems move now, it could be a tremendous opportunity to galvanize previously disengaged voters and build momentum towards the midterms.
So, how do we do that?

  1. Tap into people’s deep, hard-wired desire to belong. We saw in Virginia that McAuliffe’s attempts to use the fear of re-electing Trump backfired. But Youngkin capitalized on the more deeply rooted fear of being left out and won. Humans have a hard-wired desire to belong. Dems should capitalize on that desire and turn out voters with tried and true social pressure messaging.
  2. Move message language from the “faculty lounge” to the “break room.” In a recent Vox interview, James Carville argued that Dems need to quit using language that makes some people “too cool for school” and leaves others out in the cold. The false dichotomy of “got it” vs “ain’t got it” only serves to divide. Dems should use common language to talk about complex issues.
  3. Try new things, but keep the proven tools and techniques. A brief example: the Analyst Institute’s Annual Civic Engagement Research Report (2020) notes that TV is still more trusted by Americans than other platforms. And, mail is still one of the most effective ways to reach voters. But it’s the layering of both digital and mail programs that is most successful in turning out voters for early voting and overall turnout. Dems should focus on building best practices in both spaces for exponential impact.

If you want to hear more about Kathryn’s insights as a parent, elected official, and Democratic strategist, or welcome her to the team yourself, feel free to send her an email at kathryn@chismstrategies.com.

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