Category Archives: Popular Political Phrases

Good government vs. bad government

 

10521626333_18e2468ec7_zPresident Bill Clinton once proclaimed, “the era of big government is over.” That did not turn out to be entirely true, but what we all should want is good government. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are a good example of bad government. A personal anecdote from here at home provides an example of good government.

Chris Christie’s American Hustle

Gov. Chris Christie Town hall meeting

Gov. Chris Christie Town hall meeting

It’s no secret that “American Hustle,” one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2013, is based on the “Abscam” scandal that ensnared New Jersey lawmakers. Watching the movie during the past week, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal unfolds, it’s nearly impossible not to think of Bridgegate and Abscam together.

Chris Christie: “bully” and other word games

Republicans successfully use neuro linguistic programming (NLP) in their political messaging. That is, Republicans use and repeat loaded words or short phrases connected with names, issues, programs, bills, laws etc. in order to make voters feel a certain way. Thus, you can find many examples of Republicans praising other Republicans as “strong leaders” who take “decisive action.” On the flip side, Republicans use negative-sounding (and often flat-out false) terms like “liberal media” and “death panels” to achieve a negative effect. Republicans frequently use words such as “Muslim,” “Kenyan” and “socialist” for this reason after uttering President Obama‘s name. A list of many of these loaded Republican phrases is contained here. Through repetition, these Republican terms often sink into our brains and affect the way we feel.

The two magic words for the Democrats

Messaging Matters2

While it’s easy to get caught up in the mainstream media’s focus on the latest small shiny object, Democrats should take a deep breath and ask themselves, “What do we stand for?” In our Messaging Manifesto for Democrats published over two years ago, we provided a possible answer in just two words. Here’s how Democrats can get back to basics and promote fundamental Democratic Party values in the current political and media climate:

Cult of presidency

Last September, we published a post about how, under the Constitution, presidents don’t have individual control over the economy, and that economic improvement requires the assistance of Congress. We noted that many voters seem to be under the mistaken impression that presidents control America’s direction themselves, in part because of the cult of personality that the media have built up around the office of the president. Sure enough, at President Barack Obama‘s press conference on the sequester last Friday (see video above), two “reporters” furthered this erroneous cult of the presidency. Here, from the press conference transcript, are their exchanges with President Obama:

Taking “freedom” back

Messaging Matters2

The hottest Republican buzzword today is “freedom.” It shows up in NRA talking points, names of groups like FreedomWorks, names of bills like South Carolina’s Firearms Freedom Act, which would exempt guns manufactured and used in South Carolina from federal gun safety laws, and elsewhere. That’s because, like motherhood and apple pie, everyone favors “freedom.” Moreover, the word is designed to root into voters’ subconscious to make the talking points, organizations and bills more appealing. It’s brainwashing. If you doubt that, check out how the right-wing National Taxpayers Union counted the number of times the word “freedom” appeared in the Democrats’ 2009 health care bill. But Democrats are the true defenders of freedom, if only they would go on offense and say so. Here’s how:

Four debate pointers for President Obama

With the second Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Willard Mitt Romney around the corner and the third debate just six days later, President Obama should follow these four time-tested principles of successful political communication to gain the debate advantage:

Interview with Rap Activist Macarone

Mac Pub Shot

Macarone

With his name and his residence in conservative Orange County, California, Maurice Bradford could be an attorney or an accountant. But instead he’s Macarone, a self-styled “rap activist” who is carving out a niche as a hip-hop spokesman of the political Left. Messaging Matters caught up with Macarone after his recent performance to benefit Cenk Uygur‘s Wolf PAC:

How to Frame the Affordable Care Act Win

After suffering a historic political loss via the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are seeking to make lemonade by characterizing the ACA as a massive tax on everyone. Let’s not help them do this.

For example, I’ve heard Republicans such as Rush Limbaugh call the ACA (please don’t call it “Obamacare” — that’s pejorative right-wing framing designed to evoke Big Government and the Nanny State) “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world.” I guarantee that Republican politicians will be using phrases like “massive tax increase” over and over. But then I hear Democrats saying “no, it’s not the the largest tax increase in history, there have been bigger ones.” That’s a terrible response. It’s like a criminal lawyer telling the court, “my client didn’t kill 26 people as the prosecution alleges, he only killed 20.” You never want to argue within the frame established by your opponent. That’s playing on a field tilted against you.

Instead, here are some useful points to remember regarding the ACA and the Supreme Court ruling:

George Carlin on Political Language

In this hilarious video from the National Press Club in 1999, comedian and word wizard George Carlin skewers the use of language by politicians in Washington, DC. Some things Carlin points out will be familiar to readers here, including the use of euphemisms such as “challenges” in place of “problems,” and that famous political use of the passive voice, “mistakes were made.” Carlin also points out that our politicians are pathologically cautious about using words not to say something.

Enjoy!