Language, Language, Language

November 13th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 9 comments

Just as the first three rules of real estate are said to be, “location, location, location,” the first three rules of the new Republican Congress should be, “language, language, language.” Have you noticed that the opposition to the pro-life movement doesn’t call itself, “anti-life”? Instead, they speak of being pro-choice. Could it be because “anti-life” is a losing phrase?

Republicans on the other hand, don’t bother with language. They are against the minimum wage, they oppose equal marriage laws (gay rights), and they reject universal healthcare. When they support something, it is couched in neutral language. Republicans promote voter I.D. laws instead of “fair voting laws.” No matter what the content of bills the new Republican congress offers, the name of the bill just may matter more. Have you noticed that the pro-life movement did not roll over and adopt the language of anti-choice? They stuck to their principles and they insisted on framing the debate around life, not choice. The pro-life arguments are more popular now than they were two decades ago. Do you think that would have happened if it were the “anti-choice” movement?

It is vital that we insist on using our chosen name even when the opposition and the media don’t use it. The New York Times, The View and most of Hollywood and mainstream media do not want to make conservatives sound good or even reasonable. Letting them set the agenda is a losing battle. All Republican legislators need guidance on how to express their ideas. I once heard an illustrative story from the chair of a large state’s Republican Party. At a national meeting of the fifty state chairmen, she suggested that national Republican headquarters issue talking points. This would insure that certain phrases were carefully crafted and used universally. The terrifying response of someone extremely high up in the national party was, “What are talking points?”

Ideas only matter if people listen to them. Liberals promise utopia – better health care for more people at a lower price. Who could be against that? Obviously, only evil and selfish people. Before the average citizen, whose political views are formed by late night comedians, can even be slightly exposed to real-life facts, he needs to be willing to listen. Someone against raising the minimum wage is a greedy businessman, certainly not anyone who should be given the chance to make an argument. However, if instead of being against the minimum wage, Republicans have a counter suggestion, perhaps the “leg up opportunity” bill, more ears will pay attention.

Ted Cruz movingly tells of his father coming to this country as an immigrant who didn’t speak English. He got a job as a dishwasher and certainly didn’t earn enough to support a family. However, because his pay was so low, the restaurant owner kept him on rather than replacing him with a machine. That allowed him to prove himself as honest, responsible and eager to learn, someone worth advancement and more money. The job gave him time to hone his English skills. He did not stay at minimum wage for long. Before we can tell stories like Senator Cruz’ as indicative of why increasing the minimum wage might be harmful, we need to accustom people to listening. We can do that by being for opportunity, not by being against a living wage.

The election has provided Republicans with a slight opening to speak to the American people. They need to enlarge that crack and take advantage of it by speaking every single day in language that appeals to ordinary citizens. They need to do so through voices that appeal as well, which means that Mitch McConnell, John McCain and most other senior members should work hard in the background and let younger, more attractive legislators speak.  Let’s hope the Republicans do so. Otherwise, they will have squandered the chance to deserve a hearing in a national, presidential election two years from now.

Let Me Go, smallerOne place where language is meticulously constructed is the Bible (in Hebrew, naturally). Each word of Scripture matters and the story of leaving Egypt is full of strategies for dealing with our own struggles. If you haven’t heard Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt yet, get it by mail or instant download.

 

 

 

9 comments

James says:

Republicans are simply not inclined to worry about words, for they call a spade a spade without intent to deceive. The Other Party writes a Devil’s Dictionary. They might retitle a spade ‘a tool for enslavement of the masses.’ By wordsmithing the Other Party constantly seeks ways to slant the facts to favor their agenda, or to flavor and mask highly unpleasant truths to make them palatable to uninformed voters. Such voters rely on the urgings of their emotions rather than confronting the facts. Therefore they are suckers for epithets. ‘Pro-choice’ invokes choices which are deadly. This epithet is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, death masquerading under the cloak of free will.
By way of a parable, in my state there was the daughter of a Legislator who sought to run for Legislative branch. Her campaign discarded her married name and she ran for office under her maiden name, to facilitate getting elected on her father’s coattails. In discussing the issues, she tried to sound ‘conservative,’ yet she sanctioned if not defended Obamacare. And time and time again she parroted: “I will defer to the judgment of the President.” So her ‘conservative’ cover was blown. And in the mid-term election she was trounced. This is hopeful. Let us all hope that Lincoln’s prophecy will prove true: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Amen. Let it be so.

James,I would not like the Republicans to use language to deceive, but phrasing things in a positive way is not deceptive as long as it’s honest. Voter I.D. would lead to less fraud and fairer elections. Naming it as such counters the name the liberals give it -“suppression of Black votes.”

James says:

Indeed. I have argued the same online, against an arch-liberal puddinghead who postured exactly as you indicate, that ‘voter ID’ is tantamount to ‘suppression of the black vote.’ But for goodness’ sake, you need a photo ID simply to cash a routine check or to buy a bottle of wine. Even black people need a photo ID for such transactions. And what is more important, making a small daily withdrawal or adult purchase, or safeguarding the privilege to vote? No, the real plot to ban voter ID is a conspiracy to facilitate cheating, of those who ‘vote early and often’ and to enfranchise supporters of the Other Party to vote, who are not legally entitled to vote. When this fails, there is always the campaign to canvas the graveyards to vote for the Other Party. I have zero doubt that this happens thanks to loopholes in the regulations, i.e., that a number of dead voters turn out to vote for the Other Party.

Jean says:

Sadly, I hold the opinion that with a few exceptions, the Republicans have no idea WHAT they stand for. I have felt disenfranchised by them for ages – I am a self-reliant, Jewish, business owning single woman who really doesn’t want government in my health care even if they “give me free stuff” (that I don’t need, BTW.) I agree with Walter Williams when he says taxation is a form of legalized theft, I support the Fair Tax and I think that cultural decay matters; to the Republican leadership, that makes me one of those “crazy Tea Party people.” The establishment Republicans have run far, far away from espousing my values as part of any platform, but they haven’t filled the vacuum of ideas and principles yet.

Jean, I empathize with you and also consider myself a, “crazy Tea Party person.” I’m still delighted that the Republicans did so well in the recent election and hope that the Party moves back towards me, led by some good people in it.

James, I failed my own test in my comment. I agree with you but would like to emphasize the fairness and equality that can be achieved through voter I.D. by insisting on calling it by a name that stresses the good rather than a neutral word – I.D.

Lora says:

One thing I’d like to see is more use of the Socratic method. I have enlightened some liberals (the kind that do sometimes listen) simply by asking straight forward questions like these:
If I have to live my religion only when I’m at home and in private, then what beliefs do I use when I go out in public? Won’t that make me a hypocrite? Maybe a convenient robot?
If we really don’t have free will, how can leaders make decisions in government? Heck, how did they come to that conclusion in scientific research?
If voter ID is oppressive, then how about showing ID when we cash a check, borrow a book from the library, shop, get medical care? If those are not oppressive, then what is voter ID supposed to address?
I have met liberals who ‘never thought of it that way’. It really helps if they aren’t the screaming kind. If they are the screaming kind, I just have to live my life and trust in God. If I find myself among screamers, it is not a time for conversation with them, it is a time for action for my own sake.
I wish our Republican party had more real language skills, sometimes. It doesn’t help that they seem to have decided to punish anyone who looks and sounds ‘tea partyish’ because they ‘steal’ votes from republicans. That’s union talk.

Very well said, Lora. Have you read the book, Waking the Sleeping Giant, by Timothy Daughtry? I wish every conservative and Republican would read it and your comments echo many of his.
Susan

Lora says:

No, I haven’t. It’s going on my to-read list today!

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