Sometimes, one wonders why political contestants, with their highly organized staffs, seem blissfully unaware of very effective attacks they can mount against opponents. Here are some totally unsolicited suggestions for Democratic sound bites to counter Republican sound bites. It would be better, of course, if neither side depended on brief sound bites. However, since liberal policies are less simplistic than Republican ones and consequently require more time to explain. Democrats still need effective sound bites to level the playing field. So, let me play Carl Rove.
Needy vs greedy
Democratic recommendations for increasing taxes on the rich often get a lukewarm reception from the public. The problem is that most Americans do not consider “rich” a disparaging term. All of us hope to be rich some day. What about the concept of increasing taxes on the rich so as to give a tax break to the middle class? Using the term “middle class” is like waving a red flag in front of Republicans. They will be up in arms, accusing the Democrats of “Class Warfare.” Pointing out that Republican tax policies are grounded in class warfare doesn’t work. It is equivalent to children snarling at each other, “You started it.” “No, you started it.” Let’s be creative. In referring to a fairer tax distribution, never promote it as the rich vs the poor ormiddle class. Call it “the greedy vs the needy.” The public understands need and they certainly understand greed. Proclaim to the world: “Democratic tax breaks are needed to protect the needy from the greedy.”
Bush is a flip-flopper.
During the previous Presidential campaign, Republican TV ads and the rhetoric of their candidates kept feeding us the following mantra: “John Kerry is a flip-flopper.” Maybe so. He certainly had expressed varied opinions on what he would call “complex issues.” But so had George W. Bush. During his first campaign, he advertised himself as “a uniter, not a divider.” He then proceeded to divide the country to a degree rarely equaled by previous Presidents. He promised to keep the United States out of “nation building,” and proceeded to do exactly the opposite.. Just a small selection of his many flip-flops.
To a lesser degree. Johm McCain did the same. In dealing with this flip-flop flap, I fail to understand why Democrats were not putting out TV ads and gleefully yelling, “George W. Bush is a flip-flopper.” John McCain is a flip-flopper If it achieved nothing else, it should certainly have lessened any impact that similar accusations against Kerry or any other Democratic candidate may have had.
Do you want a Government bureaucrat standing between you and your Doctor?
In the present debate about health care, Democrats are seeking to allow every citizen to choose a federal insurance policy (similar to Medicare) instead of one with private insurance companies as intermediaries. Republicans are putting up a fierce fight against giving us this choice. So, in every TV interview and in every Republican piece in the press, we constantly hear the question. “Do you want a Government bureaucrat standing between you and your Doctor? A good question , but with an obvious answer, which Democrats are failing to use. In any debate or discussion on the subject,, Democrats should ask, Do you want an Insurance Company bureaucrat standing between you and your Doctor?
In the 2004 campaign, using another shorthand epithet against Kerry, Republicans constantly harped on the refrain that Kerry is a “Massachusetts liberal.” How to counter this? You could point out that most people who are anti-liberal are still in favor of Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, reduced prices for pharmaceuticals, environmental safeguards — all liberal ideas. Unfortunately, reason does not prevail here when matched against the knee-jerk reaction that Republicans have created around the word “liberal.” It is time to use their tactics in reverse. Never use the word ” conservatives.” The term “conservative” is too mild; it has no sharp edges.”Neanderthal” might be a good alternative, but its edges are a little too strong, sort of like name calling. No, a great synonym for conservative is the two-edged word “reactionary.” My dictionary defines reactionary as “extremely conservative.” However, an alternative definition is “opposing progress.” Great. From now on, when Democrats speak of Bush and the Republicans, they should never call them conservatives. John McCain is a reactionary, reactionary reactionary.
Borrow and borrow. Spend and spend.
Another 5-second slogan which Republicans use to frighten the public with is to provide a negative image of the Democrats as the party of “Tax and tax. Spend and spend.” This is an easy accusation to deal with. The answer: don’t bother being defensive. It takes too long to explain why this misrepresentation is not true. Instead, counterattack. Repeat over and over. Republicans are the party of “Borrow and borrow. Spend and spend.”
Where are you leading us?
During election battles, the public has been bombarded with the claim that, in times like these, the United States needs a proven leader. The equation “McCain = Leadership” was tossed at us time and again. Was McCain a great leader? This writer thinks of him as a cheerleader rather than a leader, but people of good will may disagree. The problem is that everyone is asking the wrong question. The important question is, “Where are you leading us?” Roosevelt was a great leader. Napoleon was a great leader. One led us towards peace and prosperity, the other to war and chaos. Democrats should not quibble over Republicans leadership qualities. Instead, they should keep asking, “Where are you leading us?”
Borrowing a leaf from Carl Rove’s book, use a few vocabulary modifications to change people’s perceptions. Politically, Bush was and is obviously more popular than Dick Cheney. However, according to political savants, people vote for the President, not the Vice-President, so it makes no difference. So, stop referring to Vice-President Cheney. Always refer to him as “Co President Cheney.” The truth is, according to the few knowledgeable people in the Beltway who are willing to talk, Cheney was in reality Co-President. George W. loved the trappings of the Presidency, the pomp and glory. He also loved political campaigning, where he could be his folksy best. What he didn’t like was the nitty-gritty of day-to-day management of the Government. Essentially, Cheney covered all of that. He was in fact the most powerful Vice-President in our history — more like a Co-President.Why not acquaint the public with reality. Pound this point home often enough, and the voters will have to decide if they really want to listen to the recent (or future) tirades of Co-President Cheney.
Listen to the experts
Whenever Republicans want people to go along with their ideas without too much analysis, they call for “Common sense solutions.” What do they mean by common sense solutions? They mean that, to solve problems, we should, ignore the advice of experts.. That’s odd. If our car breaks down, we go to an expert. If we have health problems, we seek help from a Doctor, another expert. We choose experts to prepare our tax returns, to help plan vacations, to guide us in our investments. Why then, in even more important political matters which actively affect our lives, should we fall back on “common sense?” Experts of course can be wrong. Science can be wrong. With our limited experiences, however, are we more apt to be right using our common sense? Common sense tells us the world is flat. Science tells us it’s not. Which should we believe when it comes to global warming, stem cell research and environmental controls? When Republicans call for common sense, they are asking you to go along with their druthers rather than seeking expert advice. Common sense should tell us that we should all listen to the experts.
It is a pity that we should have to resort to sound bites to decide who should be ourPresident or Senator or Congressman. Open and reasoned discussions of issues would be far better. But, since we live in the real political world, it is time that Democrats took the sound-bite bull by the horns and wrestled it to victory.
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