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In headlines for petitions, articles and elsewhere I keep hearing progressives say "Republicans did this..." or "Make Republicans do this..."

When I write about regressive policies being proposed or implemented, or progressive policies being blocked, I tend to refer to the culprits as "conservatives".  There are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, many times, these bad actions could not be successful with only the votes from the GOP.  Yes, most of the regressive momentum and votes come from that party, but let's not fool ourselves or those we're talking to that they could have done it all by themselves.  As another DK member wrote, "Behind every successful Republican is a complicit Democrat."  When we use the "Republican" messaging, the message isn't only being absorbed by others.  If we keep saying it enough times, it can also train our own brains to believe or semi-believe the myth that it's only that one party.

Our real struggle is against injustice and inequality.  The GOP may at the moment be the preferred organization for those advocating injustice and inequality, but it's better to focus on the message rather than the messenger.  Our job is to build a movement against the legislation, policies, actions, propaganda and forces of regression, injustice and inequality.  That means the conservative agenda and those financing the war against the 99%.  By speaking of "conservatives" we directly point to their goals.  And we include anyone with those goals whether their membership card says "Republican", "Democrat", "Conservative", "Libertarian" or if they're a Lieberman-type "independent".

Perhaps, we can even manage to get many among the public to react to "conservative" as a dirty word, as conservatives and their financiers worked so hard to do to words like "liberal" and "union".  Some might want to make "Republican" a dirty word.  As I said above, I don't think that's the best approach.  Nor is it the best way to treat the Republican Party of Lincoln's day.  But from a purely practical point of view, I think human psychology of group association would mean we'd be up against party loyalty in addition to everything else in making "Republican" a dirty word.  That could make it more difficult.

People who are currently members of the GOP aren't the most promising audiences.  However, I don't think we should entirely write them off.  It might be possible to influence them with iconic figures from the GOP's past.  We could present them with Eisenhower's remarks on the "military-industrial complex".  He was a general during WWII, a two-term president during the Cold War, etc. - Republicans won't find it as easy to close their minds to his words.  Nixon signed important legislation on matters such as the environment.  Some of Reagan's policies are progressive compared to today's Republican Party.  We may be able to move some working people who tend to vote Republican in a positive direction by such means more effectively than by simply calling the GOP bad names.

As I've written before, working people hear mainstream news and views framed to benefit corporations and the rich.  It's everywhere.  One of the reasons working people haven't been taken in by the Big Lie more than they have is that every day they hear from family and friends what working people are really experiencing.  The more we can get these chats to use "conservative" as the label for those attacking working people, the more that will become the starting point from which they make sense of the world.  Conservatives won't simply seem like people who like policies most working people don't like.  They - and others - will be soldiers in a dangerous army intent on invading the economic and social well-being of the majority.

Originally posted to workingwords on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Logic and Rhetoric at Daily Kos and Political Language and Messaging.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    "We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free capitalism for the poor." - Martin Luther King Jr.

    by workingwords on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:10:38 AM PDT

  •  Good points. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    workingwords, Bisbonian

    As I've said elsewhere, in addition to the one about about "complicit Democrats" :), "we could overwhelm the Republicans if there weren't such a high pile of Democrats in the way."

    We do need to make Conservative a dirty word. We need to make things like "War on Women" more adhesive.

    Unfortunately, our moderates make this task harder, muddying the waters when they identify with Wall Street and the underlying tenets of supply-side economics, such as austerity (aka "shared responsibility," "balanced approach" and "The Grand Bargain"), as well as defending State Secrecy, War Crimes and military over-reach, not to mention denigrating ecological realism as the work of alarmist "doomers."

    Maybe we could stick them with "Neanderthals," "Woolly Mammoths," "Dinosaurs," "End-timers," "Gun Cowards" or "Regressives"."

    Mindfulness is the first necessity of sanity and survival and the first casualty of Consumer Culture.

    by Words In Action on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:25:44 AM PDT

  •  Words mean little in themselves (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, ahumbleopinion

    There are no Lincoln or even Eisenhower Republicans left, and there are no Edmund Burke Conservatives left in the Republican Party. (Burke favored religious tolerance and government spending, among other Progressive positions.) Yet it is widely considered too impolite to call the War on Everybody policies of the current Republican Party racist, bigoted, misogynistic, warmongering, or Mammonite, or to call them on their lies.

    However, it is a fact that the US is far more Progressive than is generally understood, as you can see when you ask the right questions, without the scare words.

    If you ask about "gun regulation" lots of people are against it, but if you ask about universal background checks, 91% are for them. Similarly for other common-sense measures.

    If you ask about "Obamacare" lots of people are against it, but if you ask about no exclusions for pre-existing conditions and other actual provisions of the law, a large majority is for them.

    If you ask about "cutting spending" lots of people are for it, but if you ask about cutting education, or Social Security, or the military, or almost anything, people are against it by large margins.

    And so on.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:15:37 AM PDT

  •  The name is important - for Voting! (0+ / 0-)
    Republicans won't simply seem like people who like policies most working people don't like.  They - and others - will be soldiers in a dangerous army intent on invading the economic and social well-being of the majority.
    Your last two sentences negate the point of your diary and actually reinforce why we need to keep calling Republicans "Republicans."  When people go to vote, the ballot will list the party (Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, etc.), not "conservative," etc.

    Conservatives running under banners other than Republican are the least of our worries right now (and should also be called by their party's name, etc.).

    The key, the priority, is to get people to quit voting against their own interests - and, for anyone who is not a millionaire/billionaire, voting Republican is doing exactly that.

    Voting Republicans out of office is the key goal - without that, we'll accomplish nothing.

    To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

    by Eyesbright on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:06:26 PM PDT

    •  I made correction you pointed out (0+ / 0-)

      Regarding voting: As you said, the point is not to vote against their interests.  That's not just voting against the GOP.  It's voting against conservatives.  It's voting against corporate politicians.  Etc.  Saying only "Republican" doesn't convey that.

      "We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free capitalism for the poor." - Martin Luther King Jr.

      by workingwords on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 06:12:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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