Jill Klausen Gets Us Started On A “Progressive Lexicon”

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

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

This article Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult by Mike Lofgren has been getting a lot of play over the internets this past week, but the paragraph below is truly telling paragraph, and right along the lines of what I’ve been saying on this blog and what Joe Brewer and Jonathan Haidt and others have been telling us:

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

Language is so important to the ascendancy of the right wing, and they have done it so well that the left should just hang its head in shame – and come up with some really good language of our own. And the cojones to use it!

But the good news is that it seems Obama’s team read this article, and cleverly named their jobs bill “The American Jobs Bill.” It’s a start, anyway.

Link: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult | Truthout