By Karl Smith | Democrats have a great product but do not sell it well.  Conversely, the Republican Party has a terrible product but sells the heck out of it!

The Grand Old Party has done an amazing job at branding it to be good for the economy and simultaneously branding the Democrats as horrible.  Far too many voters voting their wallet will not vote for a candidate with a ‘D’ by the name.

This brand problem for Democrats is more pronounced in so-called red states, but exists everywhere in the country.

The GOP sells messages that sound good to many voters.  For example, the party says the GOP gives more money to the job creators, gets government out of the way and so on.  The GOP sells messages that Democrats “give your hard-earned money to the takers,” throw the economy over the cliff and more.  

Meanwhile, Democrats sell their policies mostly on morality.    They say or imply it’s morally right to educate people, provide access to health care and require equal pay for equal work.  Democrats say these policies are good for the economy but have never explained how except it puts money into the bottom of the economy that gets spent quickly.    

Former President Bill Clinton started talking about the math but did not keep going.  Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say “We think bottom-up economics works.”  My head explodes when I hear this! “We think” is not an effective argument against Republican rhetoric that sounds good but does not work.  Bottom-up economics works because of fundamental macroeconomic and behavioral principles that are easy to explain!

Democrats support policies necessary for people to thrive, for businesses to succeed, for a prosperous and shared economy, for caring for the environment, and for a better future. To accomplish these goals, Democrats support what I call Basic Public Investments (BPI), Valuing-All-Workers (VAW) and Sufficient Regulations (SRs).   These simple principles are the foundation of a positive economic message for Democrats to directly counter Republican rhetoric to win over more of the voters who are not persuaded by the morality arguments.

Basic public investments are foundation for wide-spread prosperity

To thrive, Americans need quality education, health care, infrastructure, research, safe communities, community development and safety nets which are basic public investments. People do not need just one or a few of these investments. We need all of these BPIs.  

Businesses do not exist with just educated workers or only healthy workers or infrastructure or any of the rest of the BPIs.  To exist and succeed, American businesses need all of the BPIs.

Valuing-All-Workers creates more Customers-With-Money!

To thrive, people also need good wages.   The principle of Valuing-All-Workers creates good wages.  VAW means supporting a livable minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and workers’ rights.  Each initiative drives up wages increasing the buying power of people, which means more customers with more money for businesses.

For businesses to exist and succeed, they need BPIs plus something else — Customers-With-Money (CWM).  Both BPIs and VAW create more customers with more money. CWM is the essential condition for the success of businesses.

Regulations create stability

Citizens and businesses also need sufficient regulations to create a fair and stable environment to enable our activities while protecting our environment and future.  Sufficient Regulations (SR) include eliminating or tuning outdated, unnecessarily onerous or ineffective regulations.

Democrats do not “give your hard-earned money to the takers” as the Republicans say.  Democrats invest in America and Americans, and we are great investments! Democratic policies create a stimulus effect in the short run and create taxpayer payback for years to decades from healthy and educated people and the rest of BPIs.  

Unlike tax cuts for the wealthy, Democrats invest in what pays back which, in turn, helps everyone including the wealthy.  Democrats need to explain how Democratic policies help everyone by explaining the principals behind the policies.

Candidates and politicians tying their specific local, state or national issues and policy ideas to these principles will not only sell themselves, but sell the brand making Democrats in general more electable across the United States. Arming our base with these principles will make them more effective ambassadors with their non-Democratic family, friends and co-workers.  

The national, state and county parties as well as other organizations could facilitate educating candidates, the party’s base and the public on these basic principles. Democrats have a great product.  So, let’s sell the heck out of the brand!

A South Carolina version of this article was originally published in the SC Statehouse Report.