"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rock the Bloat


Spring is the time to start building up the arsenal of themes that you'll use to distinguish your party from the opposing party, and to give yourselves a strategic advantage in the fall elections.

Let's focus on a theme that will cut across ideologies and become a clear winner for you: the bloated federal deficit.

The Republicans have been in charge for six years, spending Americans' tax dollars faster than people can send them in. The big question is: on what? What have they been overspending on that has made Americans happier and healthier? Consider a stump speech along these lines...

"Looks to me like the Republicans are, once again, out of touch. They're spending all of your money on things that you won't benefit from. That's what happens when only one party is in charge. It's like your teenager wanting to buy a Cadillac Escalade because it looks cool, and not having a Mother around to say 'that's nice, but where are you getting the money for that?'

There's just too much bloat in the lobbyist-infested Republican budgeting scheme. Vote Democratic in 2006, and we promise to find out exactly what the Republicans have been spending Americans' tax dollars on. And then, we're going to force a decision: either put our tax dollars to better use, or tell the American people exactly how you plan on wasting their hard-earned dollars."

This is an important inflection point for the party. It's an opportune time to own up to being the party of fiscal discipline, and stripping it out of the Republican brand. It's time to take credit for, and feel proud of, your record of only taxing when necessary to support the basic pillars of our country: healthcare, energy, the economy, and stronger communities. Once these fundamental values are secure, you can tell your constituents it'll be time to look at reducing taxes again.

Speaking proactively about the deficit will help you strip "tax & spend" from your brand, and transform it to "rebuilding the pillars of our country" in accordance with American values (even so-called "Christian voters" won't be adverse to talking about stronger communities and healthcare).

This is part of a pattern you will continue to see here on OKR... redefining classic debates with language and context that changes the dynamic, giving you an advantage on issues that matter. I know that a lot of Democrats see this as "Republican Light," but it's not. Rather, it's about enlightened values through an unconventional lens designed to resonate with the masses... rather than the fringes.


eric said...

Hi Jon

I agree the bloated federal deficit is an anchor around the necks of Republican incumbents, and I like your tact of pointing to nothing is being accomplished with all this money spent; however, I would assert the way to attack this disgusting spending orgy is to highlight the fact that WE aren't paying for this deficit. This Regime, along with the Republican controlled congress are passing along their spending free-for-all to our CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN. Is it not a moral value in this country to leave this country to our children better than how our parents left it too us?

BTW, I attended a town hall meeting with my Republican Congressman and grilled him very hard on this exact point. It is a winner for his only reponse was "we have to control spending".

Jon said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the feedback. One of the challenges that I see Democrats having is to speak in their "native tone of voice." Of course, we all want to do this... it's the most natural and convincing way of speaking.

However, I fear that the Democratic "tone of voice" (which includes the words chosen, the phrases evoked, etc.) has lost its footing in the American lexicon as a tone of legitimacy.

The Republican tone of voice has -- for the past decade -- been the voice that has resonated much better with the public. Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, etc., are all market-tested data points to support this view.

What we're trying to do here at OKR is to take the same values Democrats (and independents, and a bunch of Republicans) hold dear, and speak about them in a tone of voice that is tweaked to evoke emotional and visceral responses from more Americans.

Democrats have uninentionally been relegated to the periphery of society. The tone of voice, the phrases, the rationales... they're all either seen as taylored for "urbanites," "socialites" or just communist-lites.

The "our children and grandchildren will be paying for this" rationale just doesn't work. It's been tried over and over and over again. Did it help a Democrat win after Reagan threw this nation into horrific debt? Nope.

In fact, a more educated liberal can attest to the fact that a deficit does not necessarily mean higher taxes for our grandchildren. A boom economy (like in the 90s) miraculously dissolved our national debt run up by Reagan.

So, there is precident and proof that a national debt does not necessarily ensure higher taxes for our grandchildren.

That's not to say that they won't be taxed higher, but it's no guarantee... and people now tend to believe that America can overcome any obstical, and if Democrats can be economic optimists like Republicans, they will continue to be speaking to the nervous fringes instead of the aspirational middle.

This is why the above post is not about intergenerational tax burdens. It's about blaming Republicans for taxing people at all (after all, it's their own policy not to want to tax people... why not hold it to them even if it's impossible for them to succeed?) and then shifting the topic of taxation from one of "Democrats want to tax you" to "Democrats want to ensure stronger communities and fairness" that are completely compatible with the Christian, Judaic, and Islamic values that are held so much in common in our great nation.

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