Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Argue for Occupy Wall Street

When G.O.P. strategist and wordsmith-in-chief Frank Luntz advises Republicans, I listen. Why? Because every piece of advice he gives them reveals the winning arguments that he (and they) fear most. In this case, it's especially interesting, because, rather than giving anti-Democratic talking points, he's giving anti-Occupy Wall Street talking points.

Yahoo News just published a list of Luntz's tips to the Republican Governors' Association on how to talk about Occupy Wall Street. You can click through and read those, of course. Luntz and the Republicans in power have a lot on their minds. Here I'll flip Luntz's points on their heads to identify the perhaps obvious but effective rhetorical strategies one can use in Favor of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

1. Talk about "capitalism." As Luntz says, the public still prefers capitalism to socialism, but people generally believe that capitalism is immoral. It is.

2. Argue for "taxing the rich." It's the right thing to do, and it's fair. Luntz would have us believe a just tax rate for those who can afford to pay more amounts to theft. If anything, they are the thieves, and they have gotten away with it for far too long.

3. Fight for the "middle class." That's a fight Republicans know they can't win, which is why Luntz wants to change the subject to "hard-working taxpayers."

4. Talk about jobs. Luntz says Republicans shouldn't talk about "jobs" because people don't want jobs--they want careers. And in some narrow sense he may be right. So why not talk about careers, too? Employment is a lose/lose topic for Occupy Wall Street's opponents.

5. Talk about the value of a social safety net. Luntz would have everyone believe that government does nothing but waste taxpayers' hard-earned money. Emphasize the humane potential of a system where everyone could have access to health care, food, and career opportunites--you know, like most people do in the rest of the industrialized world.

6. Don't give in. In this instance, Luntz advises Republicans not to talk about "compromise," because it's seen as selling out and giving up. And on this, he may be right. Occupy Wall Street does not need to compromise with Wall Street. Why would anyone accept a "compromise" in a call for justice and fairness?

7. When a Republican says, "I get it," don't believe her. She favors G.O.P. policies in response to the problems highlighted by Occupy Wall Street. Those policies got us here in the first place. They're not suddenly the solution.

8. Talk about entrepreneurs, big business, and corporate fat cats. They're the ones with the most to fear from a movement toward economic justice; and they're the ones widely viewed as exploiting the rest of us.

9. Emphasize sacrifice. We have all made sacrifices in this economy--well, almost all of us. Wall Street firms still report record profits. CEO's still rake in massive salaries and bonuses that send executives around the world into fits of envy. The big boss at Wal-Mart allegedly makes $16,000 per hour. It's time for the 1%--especially the top tenth of that one percent--to share in the sacrifice.

10. Keep the focus on Wall Street. When Republicans try to change the subject to Washington and the Obama administration, remind people who pulls Washington's strings.

Sound good? It should, because this list is exactly what Frank Luntz does not want people to hear.


And while you're here, please support my small business. It's so small, in fact, that it's just me and my friend George.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent primer. I despise Frank Luntz partly because of how deftly he manipulates the lazy masses with his rebranding skills. He sells politics like it's laundry detergent and he's really good at it. I also despise him because he's of my generation and I consider him to be a societal traitor.