by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Al Franken once complained that Democratic policies cannot be summed up in short bumper stickers, like the Republicans can sum up their entire philosophy in “cut taxes, shrink government.”
Well, here are a few bumper stickers with which to attack Republicans and beat them senseless.
But first, a word about Karl Rove, who is some kind of campaign genius. After all, he took George W. Bush, a mediocre 1% guy with a 99% demeanor, and first had him beat Ann Richards to become governor of Texas, then beat Al Gore to become president. And then he got a second term for Bush, the worst president in modern history, if not in all of history.
One of the genius insights of Karl Rove as a campaign guru was to attack your opponent's strengths instead of his weaknesses.
So what are the GOP's perceived strengths? What do they like to trumpet about themselves?
1. Republicans are very patriotic. America first, always and everywhere. Republicans are the real Americans.
2. Republicans are very religious. Republicans are good Christians.
3. Republicans are fiscally responsible (certainly not an actual strength, but a perceived one).
4. Republicans stand for a strong military defense.
5. Republicans stand for personal freedom.
6. Republicans are against big government.
7. Republicans like to cut taxes.
8. Republicans are very macho. Republicans are real men.
How can these strengths be attacked?
The first thing to realize is that the best attack is an emotional one. Yes, your attack has to have the ring of rationality, but it should be emotional. Our emotions is where we live; that's what motivates us. I spent over 30 years in advertising, and I know firsthand how to motivate folks emotionally. I learned how to sell crap to the American people, so it's not too hard to figure out how to un-sell the crappy GOP.
Let's list some winning slogans against the GOP strengths point by point.
1. The best attack on the Republicans is to make them out to be un-American and un-patriotic. That gets them where they live. It messes with their identity in a big way. (That also happens to be their basic attack on Obama: from saying he's not born in the US to calling him a socialist who wants to make us more like Europe.)
Here's the best attack line against the GOP's patriotism:
Republicans love their money more than their country.
Romney loves his money more than his country.
This has the ring of rationality, but it is also highly emotional.
It can be used in various ways.
Why do Republicans like to cut taxes? Because they love their money more than their country.
Why does Romney have his money in the Cayman Islands? Because he loves his money more than his country. When it comes to paying taxes, Romney is a traitor.
2. The GOP's religiosity can be attacked in this way: Republicans are un-Christian, because they don't believe in helping the poor. The Republicans are against the core teachings of Christ. Republicans believe in helping the rich instead of the poor.
3. The GOP's enthusiasm for our military defense can be attacked like this:Republicans are good at starting wars, but they're really bad at winning wars.
4. The GOP's perceived fiscal responsibility can be attacked like this: Republicans want us to live on a credit card from China. Republicans like to borrow and spend. Republicans like to run up the deficit. Republicans think of you as their eternal ATM machine. Republicans like to waste your money on tax breaks for rich people and corporations. Republicans like to give your taxes to Wall Street and big corporations. Republicans stand for wasteful spending. Republicans like to waste your money on unnecessary wars. Nobody wasted our money more than George W. Bush. Republicans want Wall Street to gamble with Social Security. Republicans help big corporations to mooch off you. Republicans spend more on corporate welfare than on the welfare of people. The Democrats always have to clean up after the Republicans' wasteful spending.
5. The GOP's attack on big government — actually, any government — can be answered in this way. Republicans want a weak government so they can cheat you. Republicans want a small government to make it easy for big business to cheat you. Freedom starts with a strong government: a strong government keeps our air clean, our water pure, our food safe, our medical costs low, and our economy fair. A strong government is our only defense against Wall Street and big business. We need more regulations to protect us against big corporations. The more regulations we have, the less big business can cheat you. We need more regulations to protect us against Wall Street. Less regulations mean more fraud. More regulations mean less fraud. The government is the only big corporation that is on your side: the stronger it is, the better for you. Our government runs Medicare to benefit you; the health insurance industry runs healthcare to benefit themselves. Medicare costs our country less than the health insurance industry does. Democrats use government to free you; Republicans use government to oppress you.
6. The GOP “cut taxes” mantra can be attacked like this. Paying taxes is how you express your patriotism. If you don't like paying taxes, you're a traitor to your country. Paying taxes makes our country strong. Cutting taxes makes our country weak.
7. The GOP's quest for personal freedom can be attacked this way. The GOP stands for the freedom of corporations, not the freedom of people. If the GOP is for personal freedom, why do they attack women's freedom to choose? If the GOP is for personal freedom, why don't they want gays to marry? If the GOP is for personal freedom, why don't they want poor people to vote? The GOP is against freedom: the freedom of women to choose, the freedom of gays to marry, the freedom of poor people to vote, the freedom of unions to organize.
8. The macho posture of the GOP can be attacked this way. The Republicans aren't man enough to pay taxes. Romney isn't man enough to pay his fair share of taxes. When it comes to paying taxes, Republicans are wuzzes. The Republicans aren't man enough to stand up against Wall Street. The Republicans aren't man enough to take on the health insurance industry. The Republicans aren't man enough to stop tax breaks for big corporations. The Republicans aren't man enough to force big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. The Republicans aren't man enough to force rich people to pay their fair share of taxes.
A final attack on the GOP is to accuse them of not being moderate and sensible. Republicans are crazy extremists. Republicans are too extreme for America. All the crazy people in America are in the Republican Party.
So there you have it. Short, punchy, bumper-sticker, soundbite slogans with which to beat Republicans.
A free service from an old advertising hand to the Democratic Party. Happy now, Al Franken? And just to show you that I can think out of the box, here's a winning slogan for Romney: “I know how to make money. My opponent only knows how to spend it.”
(Afternote: I have a book out, self-published at the moment, based on my many provocative posts to 3QD. It's called The Real Obama: Progressive Tiger or Wall Street Poodle? You'll never have more fun reading about politics. Only $12 — order a copy here: lulu.com/product/paperback/the-real-obama-progressive-tiger-or-wall-street-poodle/18939747)