Fighting With the Language of Change

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By new contributor Brian Gordon. Brian is a Canadian Green Party candidate, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding, and has been trained by Al Gore to present “An Inconvenient Truth”. We’re very excited to welcome Brian to Environmental Graffiti. If you feel like writing for us, drop us an email!

We – Greens – need to create a vision that appeals to a broad swath of voters. And, by-and-large, Green policies do just that.

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Equally importantly, we need to communicate that vision in a compelling manner. Failure to do so results in situations like George W. Bush being elected to not just one, but two terms. Even now, voter approval of the Democratic Party is lower than that for President Bush, despite all that he has done to those voters.

The conservatives/Republicans in the U.S. came up with several key catch phrases that they use over-and-over. “Tax relief” is one such phrase, and it forced the Democrats on the defensive – because who can be against being relieved of the burden of tax? Moreover, if the Republicans are for it, then it is easy to paint “tax-and-spend” Democrats as being against it. Of course, the Republicans didn’t reveal that their plan was only to relieve the Paris Hiltons of the world of their tax obligations.

The U.S. conservatives have been so successful at demonizing certain concepts that nobody in the U.S. wants to call themselves a liberal now, even though that used to be a good thing, and, in fact, embodies many values shared by a majority of Americans.
Canadian “corporate conservatives” have learned from their comrades in the United States and are working hard to put out a consistent, appealing message. It is critical that those of us who consider ourselves progressives come up with an alternate vision, that we communicate it consistently, and that we counter and expose “conservative” propaganda. We must take and keep the offensive.

I suggest that we adopt some common phrases that capture our values. George Lakoff lists five two-word phrases that the U.S. conservatives have used for so many years that people now simply accept them as common sense truisms:
· Strong defense
· Free markets
· Lower taxes
· Smaller government
· Family values

The conservatives agreed on these phrases, and they used them over-and-over-and-over again. We – progressives – must do the same with phrases that capture our values and are appealing to a broad spectrum of people. I suggest:
· Leading world citizen
· Prosperous and secure
· Caring community
· Responsible stewardship
· Open and responsive government

This will put the other parties on the defensive, because it requires them to respond to our vision. It shows us to be more than a one-issue party. These value statements provide a rallying point for progressive people from many different backgrounds.

United we stand.


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