[Paleopsych] Frank Luntz: 14 words Republicans should not say

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Tue Mar 1 12:14:36 UTC 2005

Sometimes it is not what you say that matters but what you don't say. Other 
times a single word or phrase can undermine or destroy the credibility of a 
paragraph or entire presentation. This memo was originally prepared 
exclusively for Congressional spouses because they are your eyes and ears, 
a one-person reality check and truth squad combined. However, by popular 
demand, I have included and expanded that document because effectively 
communicating the New American Lexicon requires you to STOP saying words 
and phrases that undermine your ability to educate the American people.
So from today forward, YOU are the language police. From today forward, 
these are the words never to say again.
1. NEVER SAY Government
INSTEAD SAY: Washington
The fact is, most Americans appreciate their local government that picks up 
their trash, cleans their streets, and provides police and transportation 
services. Washington is the problem. Remind voters again and again about 
Washington spending, Washington waste, Washington taxation, Washington 
bureaucracy, Washington rules and Washington regulations. Then remind 
voters that if Washington created this mess, it is Washington's 
responsibility to fix it. "If we expect to succeed, we must look to 
ourselves and not to Washington to raise our kids, start our businesses and 
improve our day-to-day lives." If you must talk about government, use the 
context defined by President Bush: "Government should help people improve 
their lives, not try to run their lives."
2. NEVER SAY Privatization/Private Accounts
INSTEAD SAY: Personalization/Personal Accounts
Many more Americans would "personalize" Social Security than "privatize" 
it. In fact, two-thirds of America wants to personalize Social Security 
while only one-third should privatize it. Why? Personalizing Social 
Security suggests ownership and control over your retirement savings, while 
privatizing it suggests a profit motive and winners and losers. BANISH 
PRIVATIZATION FROM YOUR LEXICON.(Emphasis mine, caps lock theirs)
3. NEVER SAY Tax Reform
INSTEAD SAY: Tax Simplification
While a majority of Americans are generally in favor of tax reform, 
one-third of the population fears that they would end up paying more in 
taxes if the tax code was in fact reformed. However, almost all Americans 
believe they would personally benefit from a tax code that was 
simplified-in terms of money they owe, time they spend and anxiety about 
the IRS. When more Americans fear the IRS than root- canal surgery, 
something should be done to simplify the tax code.
4. NEVER SAY Inheritance/Estate Tax
INSTEAD SAY: The Death Tax
While a sizable 68% of America thinks the Inheritance/Estate Tax is unfair, 
fully 78%think that the Death Tax is unfair. And while a narrow majority 
would repeal the inheritance/estate tax, an overwhelming majority would 
repeal the death tax. If you want to kill the estate tax, call it a death 
5. NEVER SAY A Global Economy/Globalization/Capitalism
INSTEAD SAY: Free Market Economy
More Americans are afraid of the principle of globalization than even 
privatization. The reason? Globalization represents something big, 
something distant and something foreign. It's the same reason why Americans 
like their local government but dislike Washington-the closer you are, the 
more control you have. So instead of talking about the principles of 
globalization, instead emphasize "the value and benefits of a free market 
economy." Similarly, capitalism reminds people of harsh economic 
competition that yields losers as well as winners. Conversely, the free 
market economy provides opportunity to all and allows everyone to succeed.
6. NEVER SAY Outsourcing
INSTEAD SAY: Taxation, Regulation, Litigation Innovation, Education
When you use the words of your opposition, you are basically accepting 
their definition and therefore their conclusion. We should NEVER use the 
word outsourcing because we will then be asked to defend or end the 
practice of allowing companies to ship American jobs overseas. Rather, we 
should talk about the "root cause" why any company would not want to hire 
"the best workers in the world." And the answer: "over-taxation, 
over-regulation, too much litigation, and not enough innovation or quality 
education." Because it rhymes, it will be remembered.
7. NEVER SAY Undocumented Workers
INSTEAD SAY: Illegal Aliens
The Dems have adopted the phrase "undocumented worker" but you shouldn't. 
Call them exactly what they are. In fact, instead of addressing 
"immigration reform," which polarizes Americans, you should be talking 
about "border security" issues. Securing our borders and our people has 
universal support.
8. NEVER SAY Foreign Trade
INSTEAD SAY: International Trade
For many reasons unrelated to this issue, the word "foreign" conjures up 
negative images. Americans simply don't like "foreign oil," or "foreign 
products" or "foreign nationals." International is a more positive concept 
than either foreign or global.
9. NEVER SAY Drilling for oil
INSTEAD SAY: Exploring for energy
It's the picture people paint in their minds, the difference between an 
old-fashioned oil rig that gushes up black goop vs. 21st century technology 
and innovation that provides us the ability to heat our homes and drive our 
cars. When you talk about energy, use words like "responsible" and 
"balanced" and always address your concern for the environment.
10. NEVER SAY Tort Reform
INSTEAD SAY: Lawsuit Abuse Reform
The term "tort" has very little meaning to the average American, and at 
best reminds one of a French pastry. "Lawsuit Abuse" is something most 
Americans understand and resent. If you really want to make your case, add 
the word "frivolous."
11. NEVER SAY Trial Lawyer
INSTEAD SAY: Personal Injury Lawyer
It is hard to distrust a trial lawyer because we see them portrayed so 
favorably on L.A. Law and Law & Order. But personal injury lawyers, also 
known as ambulance chasers, remind people of those annoying, harassing 
commercials we see at 1:00 a.m. cajoling us to sue someone. If you want to 
get the full bang for the buck, call them "predatory personal injury 
12. NEVER SAY Corporate Transparency
INSTEAD SAY: Corporate Accountability
I constantly hear the need for "transparency" coming from members of the 
financial services industry as well as members of Congress. But if you 
asked the American people, corporate accountability is a much higher 
priority. The fact is, a majority of Americans can't even explain what 
transparency actually means. But everyone understands and demands 
accountability from all sectors of the economy ? and the government.
13. NEVER SAY School Choice
INSTEAD SAY: Parental Choice/Equal Opportunity in Education
Americans are still evenly split over whether they support "school choice" 
in America's schools. But they are heavily in favor of "giving parents the 
right to choose the schools that are right for their children," an there is 
almost universal support for "equal opportunity in education." So frame the 
issue right and you get the support you need.
14. NEVER SAY Health care "Choice"
INSTEAD SAY: "The Right to Choose"
This is an important nuance so often lost on political officials. Almost 
all Americans want "the right to choose the health care plan, hospital, 
doctor and prescription drug plan that is best for them," but far fewer 
Americans actually want to make that choice. In fact, the older you get, 
the less eager you are to have a wide range of choices. One reason why the 
prescription drug card earned only qualified public support was that it 
offered too many choices and therefore created too much confusion for too 
many senior citizens.

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