2. Measly tweaks that just remind hearers of the original phrase. For a long time I have watched in horror as the Left repeats "Obamacare" over and over, perhaps rebelliously oblivious to the fact that the word actually calls up strong resistance in many Americans. More recently, some on the Left have been saying "Obama cares" instead. But just try saying that out loud at normal conversational speed. Can you tell the difference? No, you can't. This is a measly tweak that does more harm than good. Much better is a new phrase out there now: "I love Obamacare." (It's stronger than "I like Obamacare.") That format makes a clear change in the meaning.
3. Turning a tin ear to the public sense of a word or phrase, and talking only to ourselves, in "Leftspeak." My best example of this is "single payer." Lately when people ask me about this phrase after I give a talk or do a workshop, my answer is simply "You mean "unmarried' payer?" They get it when I say that; I don't have to say anything more. Another much more dangerous example still in play is the phrase the "No on Proposition #32" campaign in
4. Believing that the words of a slogan or sound bite don't matter, because the talking points will do all the heavy persuading. After so many years of being beaten by Right wing sound bites that evoke strong emotions, it's amazing that anybody on the Left still holds this idea. But there's abundant evidence that many do. Instead, if you are very, very lucky, your smart, emotionally effective Left sound bite will awaken rational curiosity in some Americans, and they will actually be open to hearing your talking points too. But as former President Clinton once said, "If they can't say it in a phrase, we're sunk."
It's time for all of us, Democrats, liberals, progressives, and yes, even radicals, to smarten up, get off our comfy Left couches, and create the truly dynamic American counter-frames we desperately need now.