The Republican Governors Association met this week in Florida to give GOP state executives a chance to rejuvenate, strategize and team-build. But during a plenary session on Wednesday, one question kept coming up: How can Republicans do a better job of talking about Occupy Wall Street?
“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation’s foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”
Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about “income inequality” and “paying your fair share.”
This tells you almost everything you need to know about who the GOP works for, cares about, and answers to. PRO TIP: It isn’t the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Never once in his talking points does Luntz ever say, “the best way to deal with the issues raised by these people is to listen to them and honestly, directly address their concerns.” Instead, he says things like,
1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public … still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”
You’ll note that he doesn’t say “If we are the defenders of Wall Street, we’ve got a problem.” He says “if we’re seen as defenders of Wall Street, we’ve got a problem.”
This one, though, is probably my favorite:
7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: ‘I get it.’
“First off, here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ … ‘I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.”
Then, he instructed, offer Republican solutions to the problem.
You know, like cutting taxes on the 1%, eliminating funding for libraries and schools, declaring pizza a vegetable, privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare. Oh, and blame Obama, because the last 12 years of Bush/Cheney deregulation and crony capitalism that caused this never actually happened.
Look, I’m not saying that congressional Democrats are much better, but at least this makes it explicitly clear that the Republicans have no intention of doing a goddamn thing to address the suffering of millions and millions of Americans. They’ll keep doing everything they can to protect the interests of the ultra-rich, while they use carefully-crafted language to trick the Tea Party Rubes into believing they’re doing exactly the opposite.
It will be interesting to listen to Republicans in the coming months, and see how closely they adhere to these talking points. I’m guessing it will be right around 100%.