What a night. 

Last night’s presidential debate was abysmal. Horrible. Embarrassing. Nauseating. Panic-inducing. There are more things to say, but I’ll just leave it there. Here’s what I know, though. Joe Biden was never coming to save us; this election is not about him. It is about us. 

It is also about the myriad of ways that all of us at M+R, alongside our clients and community, are trying to bend the arc of justice in our time here together, doing this work, in this fraught moment. We cannot allow ourselves to spiral and lose focus on what wins elections. It’s not debates, not yard signs, and often not even the candidates. It’s people. 

People. And what moves those people? Their people and the issues that they hold dear. We know what is on the ballot — democracy and a chance at saving the Courts from the damage done by Trump and his judges, our last-ditch attempt at reversing the impacts of climate change, reproductive freedom, criminal justice and legal system reform, workers’ rights and the ability earn a fair wage that can support yourself and grow your family’s economic progress, equality and progress for LGBTQIA+ folx, a just and fair immigration system, and on and on. This is all too important to leave to a few dudes who couldn’t get it together to have a coherent and cohesive debate (and/or who chose to, you know, lie with impunity). 

I often participate in shared strategy sessions with other progressive consultants, funders, and advocates where we dig into narratives and strategies to meet voters’ shared emotional needs and ideas. We know, anecdotally and because we have the data to prove it, that voters want to believe in something, and have those beliefs animate their choices at the polls. 

Time and again, a few key themes surface as primary concerns and/or particularly motivating for voters: Corporate Greed, Freedom(s), Collective Power, Family, the Future.

Last night did not represent the motivation around these themes that we could have used for our people. OH WELL. Middle finger up to that and them. We are going to move forward, we always do. We are going to fight on, we always do. We have to draw a contrast between two possible futures: one in which MAGA Republicans try to control our lives, and one in which we protect our freedom

That’s it. The choice is not Trump or Biden — it is Trump or us. That’s the game. 

As for me and my M+R colleagues: we are going to work with our clients to define the stakes, tell the story of progressive power, mobilize them to use that power at the polls, and then hold all of these jokers accountable (in the streets, on campuses, and in legislatures, of course) to create the future that we want for ourselves and our families and neighbors.

I am angry that we are here, yet again. But I’m going to use that anger to fuel my fight. I hope you will too. And we have a whole movement of folks who are with us. Including you. Thanks. Let’s get to work. 


Christian LoBue is the Executive Vice President of M+R Wina campaigner and strategist who has spent the last two decades working across progressive movements to build power, shape public opinion, and mobilize folks to WIN.