Frank Luntz Has More Tricks Up His Sleeve
Everyone was amused last week when Frank Luntz told an audience that he was “scared to death” of Occupy Wall Street, and “we need to get our message out better,” etc.
But a slick political manipulator who’s “scared to death” is a wounded Grizzly Bear backed into a corner. Getting complacent now would be analogous to Dick Cheney’s famous “the insurgency is on its last legs” speech, when we were just a few months into our 8-year quagmire in Iraq.
Goege Lakoff — the author of the linked article — has written extensively on the Far Right’s decades-long master plan. He’s a linguistics professor, and he’s totally zeroed in on rightwing think tanks’ success in using language — shades of meanings, word associations, nuances — to gain a virtual stranglehold on the American psyche. Republican masterminds — e..g. Frank Luntz — can use the most innocuous-sounding phrase or code word, and millions of dupes will snap to attention with the predictability of Pavlov’s dogs.
By now, Frank Luntz’ talking points — about Wall Street versus the Occupy movement — are out in the open, so they’ve lost their psychological impact. Once you’ve seen how the magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat, you’re not going to be dazzled when he does the same trick again. So now Frank Luntz has to go back to the drawing board.
In his “scared to death” speech, Luntz named several rightwing phrases that had “backfired” — “oh darn it, we can’t use these terms any more.” Two of his examples were “capitalism” and “taxes.” The purpose of his speech — at least in part — was to trick Democrats into thinking “all right, we’ll use these exact terms in our own speeches, since Frank Luntz is afraid of them.”
But it’s a trap. Wall Street and its Republican prostitutes are framing this whole issue in terms of risk-taking hardworking taxpayers versus a bunch of parasites who want free stuff. If Democrats use terms like “taxes,” “the rich” and “capitalism” in their speeches, they’ll be playing right into Luntz’ hands.
Words that Democrats and liberals SHOULD use include: revenue (instead of taxes) and investing (instead of spending). And Democrats need to play up — harder, louder, more often — the fact that large corporations exert a much greater control over our lives than any government agency. And they need to keep talking relentlessly about corporate welfare, wasteful military spending and the absolute absurdity of the term “job creator.”
Anyway, this article has some excellent advice. If you click on George Lakoff's name at the top of the article, you can access some of his other writings. The Right has brainwashed millions of Americans using language techniques that George Orwell never remotely imagined. Let George Lakoff show you how they've done it. Know Your Enemy. Forewarned is forearmed. Etc. This article concludes with:
“Progressives have magnificent stories of their own to tell. They need to be telling them nonstop. Let's lure the right into using OUR frames in public discourse.”