|What's the Message?|
"We the People"
Progressives are the Party of the People. We support the needs of the American People over the profiteering of unrestricted corporations. We are the protectors of prosperity for the common man and the defenders of The American Dream. We contrast our belief in broad prosperity for the People to the radical Republican's belief that America's wealth, power and privilege should be concentrated for just the elite few.
Let's take a deeper look at the populist message that Democrats champion by restating our mission, reviewing our values and laying out our hopeful vision for a better future.
Our Progressive Mission
A mission statement tells people what we stand for as a Party. There are several great discussions (here and here and here and here) on the Internet that seek to clearly define what Progressives stand for. This is an important goal if we are to compete with the lockstep Republican message machine. The Republicans have crafted their short mission statement. We are crafting ours. Here is one Democrat Mission Statement that gets close:
Our Progressive Values and Principles
The core values upon which this Country was formed are the same values that guide our conscience and our actions as Progressives today. These time-tested, moral values are the foundation of our Democratic policies, programs, words and deeds. Trusted sources, including Rockridge Institute and basic marketing principles, suggest that in order to promote our progressive mission, we need to organize around our values. When we all learn to speak in terms that others understand — using our values to frame facts — then we will achieve the agreement and broad coalition of a successful movement.
1. Know our values:
2. Follow our values to our progressive principles:
3. Arrive at our progressive programs that reflect our values and principles:
Join the Values Movement
Use our value words as themes for your conversations, presentations and written communications. Give your communications meaning by sandwiching your facts and issues between a repeated value word (see left sidebar for an example). Include the facts and statistics that back up your point, but don’t let facts speak for themselves. They don’t. Policies, facts and programs mean little to the average person, but our core values are alive with meaning and motivation. Use them —liberally.
Repetition is the key. The more you use our values in all your communications, the more power you give our Party.
Our Progressive Vision
Progressives see America as it can be: a strong and prosperous Community united under the shared principles that help every American to realize a better future.
We believe in building a strong America in which every citizen is protected, accepted and allowed an equal opportunity to succeed. When every member of our shared community is strong, we form a strong alliance. We prosper. Our families and our friends prosper. Through the strength of mutual responsibility and interdependence, all good things are possible, including a future that is better than today.
Protectors of the American Dream
The American Dream has been a great source of inspiration for us. In our shared history, we've had great leaders who believed in it. We want good things for ourselves, for our families and friends and for every American. We want each generation to inherit a better world, to live a better life. We believe that a productive, safe and happy life is the guaranteed right of every person in America. The American Dream should remain within reach of every American willing to work for it.
America as One Strong Community
When Americans are united, we are strong. When all community members are protected, accepted and respected we are strong. However, it's the strategy of the radical Republican to divide us so that we can be snapped like sticks for power and profit.
We cannot be divided and conquered if we refuse to stand apart. The good fight is not among ourselves, but with those elite extremists in government and business who would put the health and welfare of profit-centered, polluting corporations over the health and welfare of honest people who deserve a better future.
Remember the old adage "believe half of what you see and none of what you hear"? Good advice.
Language is a powerful tool. It can be used to enlighten and benefit or it can be used to manipulate and deceive. We are bombarded with a hundred thousand messages a day from lots of media. It's tough to get complicated information through to busy, distracted people. But it can be done. Ask the radical Republican if he knows how. "Yes!" he'll grin and say. "Language is the key to our success. We can sell anything by keeping our message simple and repeating it over and over in unison. We've got a handbook that tells us what to say. And before that, we had a hot memo from Newt Gringrich, Language: A Key Mechanism of Control, that taught us to memorize key words that describe our virtues (true or not doesn't matter!) and to memorize and repeat the words that demonize our opponents." The radical Republican knows how to reach busy, distracted Americans!
So what gets through?
Did I say to keep it simple? Well, let me repeat it. Now let me repeat it again and this time with emotion.
Keep every communication themed and simple — and don't be afraid of repeating yourself. If you've got a metaphor that evokes a feeling or instant understanding, please put it to use.
Encourage others to reuse our keywords and themes. Until we too have a handbook that helps amplify our shared messages, we must learn the how's and why's of persuasive communications.
Want to know more about the radical Republican control of language? Read this eye-opening article from Deborah Tannen at The American Prospect.
Words to live by:
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
—Martin Luther King, Jr.