View “Messaging This Moment: Mobilizing Our Base and Persuading the Middle on Policing, Protest and Racial Injustice”

Purpose of this guide

As we grapple with COVID claiming lives and decimating livelihoods, advocates for racial justice and economic equality now find ourselves in the midst of even greater horrors. Yet another set of killings of Black people at the hands of law enforcement and racist vigilantes have brought the white supremacy at the root of our society into stark relief. And, with it, sent courageous activists into the streets. With every demand for justice comes reprisal — meted out with brutal force by militarized police, ordered and cheered on by Trump and his enablers. This is rendered all the more destructive, in many places, by opportunistic white nationalists hiding behind the critical protests of people fighting to ensure justice for all.

In this moment of enormous tension, widespread fear, and police brutality, opinions are formed and cemented. The potent pull toward “Law and Order,” a frequent rightwing refrain, can have potential supporters harden against protests and embrace our opposition’s version of an incredibly chaotic storyline. Arguably as dangerous for our aims, the severity and magnitude of the state-sponsored violence can extinguish in our base the hope required for civic engagement.

More broadly, this has become a fight over American democracy itself, the very nature of the implicit pact between “we the people” and the leaders who claim to govern in our name, purportedly to carry out our collective will. While this literal battle rages — with tear gassing militias on one side and kneeling protestors on the other — the rhetorical one does as well. We must seize the story of what is happening, making clear the reasons behind events unfolding in order to have our solutions seem both obvious and worth battling for.

With all of this as our backdrop, we’ve crafted this guide to offer high level suggestions for activating the broadest possible range of support for desired policy solutions, inoculating against our opposition’s narrative, and contending with the understandable despondency we cannot risk from our base. What follows are overarching directives, full sample narratives and rebuttals to common objections.