Category Archives: Messaging Maxims

After Ferguson, we’re done with the GOP

Protesters for Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO

Protesters for Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO by police officer Darren Wilson may well be a tipping point in American political history. The ensuing Right versus Left war over the narrative in Ferguson made it clear that we cannot reason with conservatives and Republicans. They are so invested in their tribalism and Kool-Aid identity politics (in this case, the Scary Brown People narrative) that, presently, there’s no chance of Republicans working with us to solve any big issues. Accordingly, Democrats and progressives might want to focus on the following three things:

The FCC’s Net Neutrality outrage of the week?

Net Neutrality gravestone

Net Neutrality gravestone

If you needed more evidence that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is captured by big corporations and ready to take a dive for them on Net Neutrality, that evidence seemed to arrive this week. Many of you know that Net Neutrality, i.e., the idea that companies should not be able to speed up, slow down or otherwise herd Internet users into particular affiliated corners of the Internet, generated over one million comments to the FCC, a record-setting amount. The FCC’s website got so overloaded that it shut down, and the FCC had to extend its Net Neutrality comment period, a rare occurrence. But now comes Gigi Sohn, the FCC’s Special Counsel for External Affairs, who said in an NPR interview that:

A lot of these comments are one paragraph, two paragraphs, they don’t have much substance beyond, ‘we want strong net neutrality.’

Did video help defeat Eric Cantor?

As we said over three years ago in Messaging Maxim #3, There’s an Invention Called Video, some Republicans (older white male Republicans in particular) seem to have trouble grasping the fact that statements they make on video are forever, and can come back to haunt them. This week, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor may have been hurt by the video maxim in a different way: being overly cautious about what he put on video.

CNN’s harvest of shame

CNN‘s desperate attempts to raise its flagging ratings have led to actions that can be viewed as either sad or comical. CNN spent months devoting the majority of its coverage to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, MH 370, beyond all reasonable proportion given that there were no new developments for days on end. The result was hours of cringworthy speculation, including the infamous moment where Don Lemon asked:

[W]hat if it was something, fully, that we don’t really understand? A lot of people have been asking me about that, about black holes and on and on and on, and all these conspiracy theories. Let’s look at this, ah, Noah says, ‘what else can you think? Black hole? Bermuda triangle?’ And then Deji says, ‘Huh? Just like in the movie LOST?’ It’s also referencing the Twilight Zone, which is a very similar plot. That’s what people are saying…  is it preposterous…?

Now that even CNN has had to curtail its MH 370 coverage due to lack of any news, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker recently gave some hints as to his plans for CNN’s direction. What emerged is an audience-driven format that seems to bear little resemblance to actual news coverage.

Bite-sizing climate change

Hurricane Sandy flooding, October 2012

Hurricane Sandy flooding, October 2012

Today, the U.S. Government released its annual National Climate Assessment (NCA) and it is deservedly scary. Just last month, the United Nations released its landmark report on climate change, and it also was duly scary. Both of these reports, like the ones published before them, indicate that climate change is here, that it is largely caused by human activity such as burning of fossil fuels, that climate change is partly responsible for severe weather events like storms and drought, that climate change, if unchecked, will cause massive economic and other upheavals, and that climate change can be mitigated by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and using more clean renewable energy. However, many people seem to find climate change too big and too scary, and thus feel frozen to do anything about it. Instead of treating climate change as such a big scary problem, as these reports often do, perhaps it is now time to bite-size climate change in order to solve it.

Messaging Maxim #7: You get the legislation or you get the issue

Thor's hammer, San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Thor’s hammer, San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Once again, Republicans in Congress have shot down a good proposal from the Democrats, this time a federal minimum wage hike. Instead of being dejected or just complaining about the “party of ‘no,’” Democrats should recognize that they have an important weapon, and it’s the hammer of having an issue on which to run.

President Obama slams Republicans on Affordable Care Act

President Obama held a press conference yesterday (see video above), and it turned into a masterful attack by the President against Republicans on the Affordable Care Act:

Is President Obama getting his Democratic mojo back?


Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave a stirring speech at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, to mark the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In his speech (see video above), Obama talked about America’s struggle over civil rights for minorities, the heroism of President Johnson in getting the law passed, and the continued fight over civil rights taking place in America today. Watching President Obama speak from his heart, one has to wonder whether the President has gotten his Democratic mojo back, and whether he intends to continue espousing Democratic Party ideals for the next three years.

Messaging Maxim #6: Keep it Stupidly Simple

 

A friend forwarded the above sound clip, featuring President George W. Bush announcing his Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2006. The point of the clip was to show that Bush and the Republicans were all for extending deadlines for health insurance programs until President Barack Obama extended the March 31, 2014 Affordable Care Act signup deadline. But what was perhaps more striking about the Bush clip was its almost childlike simplicity of the language and delivery:

The average premium that seniors pay is a third less than had been expected, just $25 per month instead of $37 per month.

Thanks to this new coverage, America’s seniors are now getting the modern medicine they need at prices they can afford.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, Democrats made plenty of fun of Bush’s “Bartles and Jaymes” simplicity of speech. Before that, Democrats mocked the simplicity of presidential candidate and then President Ronald Reagan. But such simplicity often works. Indeed, Reagan became known as “The Great Communicator.” For these reasons, we now list Messaging Maxim #6: Keep it Stupidly Simple.

What Democrats can learn from General Patton

The 1970 movie “Patton” is best remembered for its opening speech by George C. Scott as General George S. Patton, standing in front of a giant American flag (see audio above). The speech, primarily written by Francis Ford Coppola and based largely on snippets by Patton himself, could serve as an inspiration to Democrats for the upcoming 2014 election: