Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Party of No Versus Yes We Can

I was in Nashville the other day visiting a prospective and current client and found myself in a bar next to a couple in their sixties. She was lovely, very into the music scene, and chatty. He found out I was from Washington, DC and do work in health care reform and wanted to yell at me.

Politely, more than twice, I told him I really didn’t want to discuss this with him. But he was on fire with his talking points which spewed out of him like vomit:

• We can’t afford it, it will bankrupt the nation.
• It’s socialism.
• I’m a small business owner, and it’s not going to help me.
• All of the polls say the American people don’t want it.

I politely (and anyone who knows me realizes politely doesn’t come easily), again told him I wouldn’t discuss it.

He went on and on until his wife dragged him out. Tried to watch the basketball game but Kentucky was killing the other team and in the end, he was like a strange, exotic bird, and the basketball game just screamed defeat.

The next day I had lunch with a client who doesn’t believe in the reform movement and has a pretty persuasive case why. I told him about Health Reform Bad Bar Man and said, “I wish I was that good at getting people to remember my talking points.”

That’s when it hit me – the Republicans are brilliant at developing talking points that are simple, resonate widely, everyone remembers and are used by all who hear them over and over and over again.

The Democrats suck at talking points. Obama won’t sink to the level of “they’re going to kill granny,” and who can blame him. But what about a nice big positive talking point about giving granny dignity and professional care at the end of her life. It may not be angry but at least it’s hopeful.

But not those Democrats. They don’t think that way. They’ve reused the same campaign theme for every candidate in the last two decades “Change.” A big vague talking point that has no meaning other than we’re going to be different. Then they get to DC and it’s the same old stuff.

How do you think the Republicans have managed to pin the zillion dollar deficit on Obama when he walked into office and found out it was far worse than even his advisers imagined? Declarative, basic points – he who runs the country is responsible for the mess he’s in.

If you keep telling people over and over again that Obama created this mess – and they’re not very smart people and regular watchers of Fox News – they will believe it. It’s indoctrination – talk about socialism that’s a pretty good example of it in action.

And of course, there’s racism involved – more than I ever thought possible in this nation in the second decade of the 21st Century. May not be on a billboard but its right there all the time. Just look at who makes up the Congress and Senate. The Republicans are white men, the Democrats are the rest of us. But I’m not going down that path today.

But there’s good news. Finally, with the health care reform bill passed the tide appears to be turning. Armageddon didn’t happen and it isn’t going too. The letter John McCain sent out saying we must repeal the health care reform bill sounded weak, hissy and undignified. Talk about someone who knows how to kill his own career.

The Democrats appear to have gotten their cajones back as well. They have new talking points.

The Republicans are the party of no.
We are the party of yes we can.

It’s a good start.

Check out this video -

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