An Anti-Luntz narrative

I think we need a real response to "YOUR money"-speak.

The Luntz manual uses "YOUR money"-speak to energize people to vote against their own interests. He paints a dichotomy of domination with words and emotions. In the Luntz dichotomy, there are:

"good" guys.

  • America
  • Hard-working Americans
  • "job creators"
  • Republicans


"bad" guys

  • Washington
  • Hollywood
  • Liberal tax-spenders
  • America haters
  • Democrats
"YOUR-money" speak emotes selfishness. Emotional selfishness is the bedrock of Luntz economic persuasion. What if our counter-frame was "OUR money"? People understand "OUR money" In the manual, Luntz concedes that people like "government". They like government services like garbage collection, the police, and the fire department. Luntz creates a linguistic schism between our perception of local government and federal government by refering to federal government exclusively as "Washington." People understand that they are taxed, and that "OUR money" is spent to run the police department.

On Social Security, is it "YOUR money" or "OUR money"? I think we use "OUR money" to help old folks get by. Luntz tells you that "YOUR money" is earning a bad rate of return, and that YOU could find a better rate of return.

I don't believe that empathy is dead in America yet. During the debates, when Bush wanted to give you "YOUR money" back, Kerry said "you can keep YOUR money, but here, take some more of mine and my rich friends." Class consciousness is dead in America. The working class doesn't feel oppressed by corporate interests. People don't yet like corporations/wealthy people, but they don't really hate them either. When Bush says, "YOU should get YOUR money back," we should say "but Mr. President, there's none of OUR money left. you've given all of OUR money to the wealthiest 1%. The nation is in debt and OUR children will have to pay THEIR money to cash the checks YOU wrote today."

what are our imaginary coalitions?

"good" guys

  • America
  • Compassionate Americans
  • The teachers, the garbage collectors, the police, the firefighters, and the troops.  (ok, so i'm personally skittish about glorifying the military, but they are a damn good example of government efficiency.)
  • Democrats


"bad" guys

  • "Greed Merchants" - merchants bent on selling America the ideology of greed, but also Walmart et al.
  • Outsourcers
  • Social Security destroyers
  • Deficit Spenders
  • Reckless Republicans

Re-awakening collective empathy is the best way to get the majority back.

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1 Comment

we should absolutely talk about the troops
I'm 100% against what Bush has ordered our troops to do in Iraq, but I also have 100% respect for the men and women on the ground there.  And I'm sick of the Republicans - the party that cut vet's benefits, cut hazard pay, cut VA hospitals, and sent our troops needlessly into harm's way - claiming to be the ones who support the troops.

We need to make the connection that fiscal responsibility=supporting the troops.  That we're the party that's going to put money into body armor and VA hospitals, not Halliburton's coffers.

"Our money" is a perfect phrase, because the stark difference in ideals between the two parties is best summed up as "ours" vs. "mine".  The Democrats believe in community - we all have a responsibility to help our fellow citizens, and the right to expect help from them in time of need.  Whereas the Republicans believe in naked self-interest - how dare they take my tax dollars just so some kids can learn how to read?

We've done a horrible job of getting that across.  If everyone in America fully understood this divide, we'd hold the White House and Congress for the next fifty years.  Why can't we get this message out?  Why aren't we shouting this from the rooftops?  We're all in this together.  They're in it for themselves.  It's that simple.

by schroeder 2005-02-24 11:01AM | 0 recs


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