Dover Bitch

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Personalize it

Over at The Next Hurrah, emptywheel gives a great example of something DB considers to be an important shortcoming in the way in which Democrats use language:

One of the most effective ways I've used to convince fairly rational fiscally conservative people to hate Republicans is by reciting how much they've spent on a stupid Republican boondoggle.

"You've spent $1,500 this year to bomb Afghans. Did you know that? Oh wait. I forgot, you make twice the median income. Make that $3,000 to bomb Afghans."

(Of course, now I'd have to say, "they just took out a $5,000 dollar loan in your name with which to bomb Iraqi civilians.")

Works like a charm, with the added advantage that people believe dollars are a more real sign than other facts. They think of all the added features they could have had on their last car with that $5,000 and it feels "real" to them.

So why aren't we asking people, "Say, did you hear the Republicans just put an accused money-launderer in charge of your pocket-book?"

Right on target. But let's take it even further, this theme of personalization.

DB thinks that personalization is a crucial part of communicating with voters, in any discussion. For example, John Kerry mentioned over and over in the 2004 campaign that 45 million Americans lacked health insurance. That's a big number, but for 250 million Americans, that's a big number of other people.

Why not say, "That's one in six Americans. The next time you get on an airplane and breathe that recycled air, look at the two people sitting next to you and the three sitting right behind you and ask yourself which one of those people hasn't been to a doctor in over a year."

Or maybe, "Who hasn't been to a doctor in over a year? Your waiter? The person who just refilled your water? The guy who tossed the salad you're eating? Or maybe the person cooking your dinner?"

Not to get too Howard Hughes on everybody here, but there's a way of stating problems so they sound huge and insurmountable and then there's ways of stating them so they have some sort of relationship to the people you are trying to reach.

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