It's been discussed many times on the internets and on our TV machines that Republicans have fine-tuned the science of words. They call a pro-pollution bill the "Clear Skies Initiative". They've demonized the noble ideology of being "liberal". They've conflated Iraq and Osama bin Laden by combining them under the umbrella term of "The War on Terror".
But it goes beyond creating simple (yet deceptive) soundbites. It goes beyond "framing the debate". The key to their success (and the key to Democrats hope for success) is to "personalize" issues, to appeal to voters emotions, for it is there that most voters make their decisions. It doesn't matter how good a 14 point plan is if a candidate can't evoke an emotional response to the plan within the voter.
So says Drew Weston, P.H.D. He spoke to the N. Fulton Democrats last night, and I was there to listen. He is a professor, a consultant, and the author of several books including his latest The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
He rarely spoke of policy; rather, he gave examples of how the brain is wired to associate sometimes disparate things. Studies have shown that it is this association (such as liberal=weak) that guides voters, and it's something that the Democrats must
master. That doesn't mean being dishonest or manipulative (we'll leave that to the Republicans). It means couching issues not just in simple positive terms, but in emotionally
positive terms that resonate personally
with the voters.
He gave numerous examples throughout the talk; here are a few of them:
- Guns: Not "Gun Control" (people don't like being controlled), but "common-sense gun laws".
- Abortion: If your daughter was raped, would you want her to see the rapist's eyes every time she looked in the eyes of the baby? Making it illegal is the same as a Rapist Bill of Rights.
- Universal Health Care: A family doctor for every family. It's also pro-business, because companies don't have to provide it. It would make it easier for them to compete with companies in other countries where healthcare is provided by the government.
- Taxes: If you like to have bridges collapsing, then vote Republican - look at the great job they've done with the infrastructure so far.
- Education: Public education isn't a cost - our children are our greatest investment.
- Role of Government: Would a company hire a CEO that hated business? Why would you elect a politician that hates government (and wants to "drown it in a bathtub")?
- Regulation & Business: Companies that are good citizens will thrive under any government. Companies that pollute and cheat and mistreat workers will only thrive under a Republican government.
- Support The Troops: I hope everyone here already knows this one (it means providing them with armor and not cutting their benefits and not sending your children when they won't send their own) - so why don't the politicians?
Of course - this is a shorthand list that's best fleshed out by using more personal examples. We're all passionate about our positions, and a majority of the population would be too, when shown to them in the proper light. I plan to buy the book so I can get to the point where this becomes second nature. I hope you will too (hey - it's been recommended by Bill Clinton and Howard Dean). :)