Tag Archive: Social Security

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:

Time to go to war against the Republicans

Messaging Matters2

When Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States twice in the 1990s, Americans didn’t react until the 9/11 attacks years later. That didn’t work out so well. Yet Republicans quietly, then more noisily, declared war on the Democrats years ago, and have successfully fought their war against the Democrats, and America, every day since then, with near-impunity. It’s time for Democrats to go to war against the Republicans.

Enjoy your low Obama taxes today

Messaging Matters2

One of the many Republican lies is that President Obama has raised your taxes. Other than for a miniscule sliver of top-salaried Americans, the opposite is true — President Obama has lowered a number of taxes, and today, Tax Day, most Americans enjoy some of the lowest federal income taxes of their lifetimes.

Obama Inauguration Day speech calls for good government

President Obama‘s inauguration speech for his second term called for an active, effective federal (as well as state and local) government that provides “security and dignity” for Americans. Among the things President Obama said that government should help do or be involved in are:

The Republicans’ Hurricane Sandy problem

Multistate disasters like Hurricane Sandy, which is currently battering the Northeast, present a big problem for the Republican Party and its anti-government ideology. Here’s why:

George W. Bush: “Catapult the Propaganda”

As this video shows, former President George W. Bush, talking about privatizing Social Security in one of his phony Republican-stocked “town hall” events in May 2005, said:

in my line of work you gotta keep repeating things over and over and over again, for the truth to sink in. You gotta catapult the propaganda.

What Bush probably meant by “catapult” was to vault over what he called “propaganda”, i.e., reporting and political advocacy that disagreed with him, indicating that privatizing Social Security and leaving seniors’ finances to the forces of the stock market would be extremely risky, and, during the Bush years, when the stock market tanked, would have driven millions of seniors into poverty. But Bush was really following Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat. Bush’s repetition of his message was the propaganda itself, and thus “catapult the propaganda” for Bush really meant to propel his own propaganda through repetition.  In the case of privatizing social security, it didn’t work.

Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Vladimir Lenin

According to PolitiFact, the biggest lie of the year 2010 was the Republicans’ description of the Democrats’ health insurance reform bill as “a government takeover of health care”. How many times did you hear that phrase during the Summer and Fall of 2010? If you followed the news at all, probably hundreds.  That was deliberate, and, according to PolitiFact, the phrase was cooked up by the Republican Party’s language guru, Frank Luntz.  However, leading Republicans made this phrase stick, by repeating it in a highly disciplined manner, whereupon it was picked up by their followers and by the mainstream media. (“Government takeover of health care” or “government-run health care” was also a short, simple, catchy slogan.  As was discussed in a podcast last December,  such simplicity is also key to good political messaging, and will be the subject of another upcoming Messaging Maxim.)

Repetition of political catch phrases such as “government-run health care,” even when the phrases are false, is one of the Republican Party’s strengths. As mentioned in A Messaging Manifesto For Democrats, the GOP has a huge list of such phrases, including “pro-life,” “death tax” and many more.  Leading Republicans repeat these phrases in a disciplined manner every chance they get, such as on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, on every news television interview program on which they are invited, in newspaper and online articles, etc.  The result is that the messages, which are framed in a manner favorable to Republicans (and often focus group-tested beforehand),  are echoed in the mainstream media, and they sink into our subconscious, thereby tilting the political battlefield in the Republicans’ favor.

This crucial element of repeating political messages is sorely lacking on the Democratic side. Quick, can you think of one catch phrase to describe any Democratic Party policies (or used by Democrats to describe Republican policies)? They are very few in number. Bill Clinton used “mend it, don’t end it” to try to stave off Republican efforts to cancel federal affirmative action programs.  But that was more than 15 years ago.