Dr. Bob: What’s with Democrats and ‘words’?

Dear Dr. Bob,

Everywhere I turn it looks like Republicans have a monopoly on words and phrases that make them look good and Democrats look bad. What’s this all about?

What gives…?


Dear What Gives,

The short answer is that they have more experience with advertising that Democrats, if we believe what we lefties have to say about them. In other words, if they really are the party of big business and multinational corporations, it’s not a stretch to see that at least some of their MBA recruits studied propaganda strategies and techniques. Or at least read Orwell’s “1984” when it was assigned reading in high school.

Take Dr. Frank Luntz for instance. The guy is no rocket scientist if you ask anyone with a B.A. or above who studied “Commmunications” in college; not the “I want to be a TV news anchor” course of study but actual communication theory. Read one of his books — don’t buy it, just skim it in a bookstore, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

In any event, he’s the guy who came up with many of the words and phrases that Republican’s use to daze and confuse voters while Democrats are left saying “No, they’re fooling you!” The trouble, of course, is that tthey ARE fooling voters and, for the most part, getting away with it. Again, no surprise; these are the folks who keep selling us stuff we don’t need or, more to the point, repackage existing products with new labels and words like “New and Improved!”

One of my favorites came out of the GOP presidential primaries this year ” blah, blah, blah IN AMERICAN HISTORY”.  “The biggest tax increase IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” “The worst foreign policy IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” Get the idea?

Karl Rove is an expert practioner of this as he combines well researched phrases while accusing opponents of exactly what his side has done or is doing. Democrats, in general, are so shocked that he can get away with it that we can be found looking at news coverage with our mouths open.

Okay…so that’s how I see it. But getting into the game isn’t all that hard. Here’s an example: Instead of calling the recent recession the “Great Recession” as some sort of homage to the “Great Depression” — which only a handful of seniors and history buffs really understand, we should be calling it the “Republican Recession.”

And in the spilt milk department, instead of the “Affordable Care Act ” aka “ObamaCare” it should have been called “Medicare 2.”

For a local race, the trick is to always assign responsibility for who did what i.e. ‘the Republican Legislature,” “the Republican Education Plan” etc. In Arizona, for instance, since we haven’t had a majority in either the House or Senate since the 1990’s no Democratic member of the House of Senate should ever be describing what the legislature did as “We passed…” “We failed to….”

The truth is that “We” had nothing to do with it other than to sit by while the Republicans controlled everything.

So if the current crop of Democratic consultants can’ t figure that out (and most can’t) its probably time to start recruiting help from those with advanced degrees in fields like Communication, Social Psychology, and so on.

In the meantime, here’s one other you can use. Whenever the Republicans moan about  “Class Warfare” understand that nothing freaks them out more. They KNOW they are waging ‘class warfare’ against the 99% as troopers for the 1%. So don’t hesitate calling them on it. They’ll shrink.


About Bob Grossfeld

Robert "Bob" Grossfeld has 30 years of experience as an award-winning, political strategist and media consultant. He has twice served as Senior Advisor to Members of Congress, Special Assistant to the Arizona State Senate Majority Leader, and Communications Director at the Arizona Department of Education as well as the Arizona AFL-CIO. He also launched and was the Publisher of the groundbreaking online political paper, 'The Arizona Guardian." He has produced award-winning media campaigns and strategies for ballot measures, candidates for Congress, Legislature, municipal offices, and Native American Tribes. Bob is President of POLITICARE and Founder of The Media Guys
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