Category Archives: Popular Political Phrases

Barack Obama channels Reagan and JFK in State of the Union

President Obama speaks at the Pentagon last December

President Obama speaks at the Pentagon last December

President Barack Obama‘s final State of the Union address last night was marked by an optimistic, confident tone in promoting America’s values and its leadership position for the future. In doing so, Obama was reminiscent of two presidents who loom large in our recent history: Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

Winning the gun violence argument

America's intersection of children and guns

America’s intersection of children and guns

After yet another mass shooting in America, this time in San Bernardino, California, the debate over what to do about gun violence has been rekindled. However, when both sides simply fall back into their standard arguments, there’s no reason to believe that a different result will occur. To achieve a different outcome, we need some new thinking and new language. Here’s how the majority of Americans can win the argument to reduce gun violence:

Glimpsing the future of politics at Politicon Los Angeles

James Carville meets Trevor Noah at Politicon 2015

James Carville meets Trevor Noah at Politicon 2015

Los Angeles is one of the finalists to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but L.A. had its own early Summer Olympics this this past Friday and Saturday, at the first L.A. Politicon convention. The stadium was the L.A. Convention Center, and the athletes were the stars of the political and entertainment worlds who joined together to demonstrate what has become obvious: that politics and entertainment have merged.

Messaging Maxim #8: Don’t use the other side’s labels

Protesters opposing Arizona anti-immigrant law

Protesters opposing Arizona anti-immigrant law

Republicans and conservatives, which are curently one and the same, love to come up with short, catchy labels for things. Here’s a list of popular Republican political phrases. Those labels and phrases are always loaded, either in favor of the Republicans, against the Democrats, or both. So, if you’re a Democrat, a liberal or a progressive, why would you ever use those Republican labels, making them even more popular so they get taken up by the mainstream media and become part of our vernacular? The answer is, you shouldn’t. But plenty of Democrats, liberals and progressives are making this mistake lately. Here are a few examples of Republican-loaded phrases that Democrats, and thus the mainstream media, are using all over the place. Hopefully, these will serve as a reminder to cut it out:

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: