I was chuffed to read this post from Jill Klausen (@jillwklausen) last week about how to start taking back our language from the right wing, instead of simply rolling over. She says we need to start taking a lot more care with our language, and not just use the language that the right wing has been using to set their agenda.
1. Never say Entitlements.
–Instead, say Earned Benefits.
While the word “entitlement” was originally coined by Democrats as a way to illustrate that the receiver of the attached benefits was entitled to them by having worked to earn them, or having been taxed to support them, it has been re-defined by the right as akin to a spoiled child who acts as if they’re “entitled” even though they are not.
“Earned benefits,” on the other hand, cannot be twisted or misconstrued to mean anything other than what what they are: something the recipient has actually earned, as opposed to something they are being given.
A new lexicon is a critical first step in taking control of our language and our communication. For some reason, it seems that progressive politicians have been letting the right wing control the lexicon and communication style of politics, which has not been in anyone’s interest. Jill’s pushing back, and it’s going to make a difference.
Jill has also started to do some great naming of right wing policies, such as calling Paul Ryan’s so-called budget the #PathToPoverty – a name that’s started to get a little traction in Rob Zerban‘s campaign for Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin.
Link: Return The Democratic Majority To The House And Senate in 2012: 5 Words And Phrases Democrats Should Never Say Again
Since I have some new followers recently, I thought I’d mention and recommend my ongoing series (nine articles so far) on Progressive Language. Originally published in Fall of 2011, the topics are still as juicy and topical as ever. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic – it’s a critical conversation as we head into the final lap for the November elections.
This set of articles – which will be growing over time – is meant to form the basis for a cookbook for improving progressive political communication. (And when I say “book” I’m not speaking metaphorically. More on that over the next few weeks!)
Alain de Botton at TED speaking on sympathy
The always apropos Maria Popova features Alain de Botton today on Brain Pickings, discussing a topic near and dear to this blog’s heart – on the lessons we can learn from religion for promoting secular movements:
The tension between secularity and religion has endured for centuries, infusing academia and science with a strong and permeating undercurrent of atheism. But if we can divorce the medium from the message, there might be some powerful communication lessons secular movements could learn from religious ones. That’s the premise behind Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, a provocative and thoughtful new book by modern philosopher, prolific author, and School of Life founder Alain de Botton, who recently made a passionate case for redefining success.
Religions have been practicing the marketing arts for thousands of years – inspired, of course, by their faith and the help of their Gods – and have perfected a lot of approaches that are applicable in other areas. Indeed, the key concepts I harp on in this blog – such as the use of stories to build empathy, the appeal to authority (and who is a higher authority than the Divine?), and the importance of purity and sanctity – apply directly to church sermons as well as political speeches.
Link: Brain Pickings