Famous GOP etymologist Frank Luntz tells us that the GOP has serious ideas, but doesn’t know how to communicate them well. Here’s the tell:
“Republicans on Capitol Hill have great thinkers and communicators with serious ideas and specific answers, from Reps. Paul Ryan and Dave Camp to Sens. Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey. The party should unleash them — now. But they need a new language to communicate their ideas effectively; it starts with abandoning ugly phrases such as “a hostage you might take a chance at shooting” to describe budget negotiations. And Republicans need to stop expressing a willingness to shut down the government if they don’t get their way on the debt ceiling. Americans don’t want a government shutdown — for any reason.”
Note that he is not saying don’t do it. Also, too: killer material, Frank. You are ready for open mic night.
“Another way for congressional Republicans to gain an advantage is to reframe the questions being asked, because whoever controls the question determines the answer. Since his first election, Obama has been asking America, “Should the rich pay more?” Thanks to public disdain for lobbyists and tax loopholes available only to the wealthy, election exit polls put support for this notion at 60 percent. But change the question to “Should Washington take more?,” and the answer is a resounding no.”
Or, if you don’t like the answer, change the question to one you do like. And here’s more suggestions from Luntz:
“The unforced GOP language errors are many. Here’s a start:
- Instead of smaller government, they should talk about more efficient and effective government. The former is ideological language of the 1980s; the latter is practical language of today.
- Instead of tax reform, talk about making the IRS code simpler, flatter and fairer. Speak to what people really hate about the code: its complexity.
- In addition to cutting spending, they must talk about controlling — not capping — it. What angers Americans more than how much politicians spend today is how much more they know Washington will waste tomorrow. A “cap” can be lifted, but “controls” are constant.
- Instead of entitlement reform or controlling the growth of Medicare and Social Security, talk about how to save and strengthen these programs so they are there when voters need them. After all, they paid for them.
- Better than discussing economic opportunity and growth, Republicans should talk about creating a healthier and more secure economy. Everyone benefits when economic health is restored. And while economic opportunity would be nice, security is a necessity.”
The problem with these talking points is that the policy behind them is exactly what no one wants. When the GOP talks about holding the government hostage and being prepared to kill it, that is exactly what they mean. It is ugly, Frank. They mean it to be ugly.
Keep polishing that turd, Frank. Sooner or later it will look really pretty.