Monday, August 08, 2005


I'm Back! (And I've Been Thinking)

You know, vacations are always great. Even if you don't go anywhere, it's relaxing to know that you have nothing to do. The kissfans did go somewhere, though. We went to St. Louis and took in a Cardinals game (they won) and then we went back to our hometown and took in a minor league ballgame (they lost). We celebrated the youngest kissfan's birthday (it was a Star Wars party and he had a blast!) and basically I just laid around the house, read two books, and commented on others' blogs without the pressure of having to post on my own. But while I was away, I began thinking about things. The direction of my country and the direction of my party in particular. And it all started with a bumper sticker.

As I drove into St. Louis on I-70 I saw a car sporting a bumper sticker that said "Pro-Choice Democrat" and I thought to myself, "Aren't we all?" Is there really anybody that would rather see a child aborted than adopted? Is there anyone who cheers when a woman chooses abortion over adoption? I, personally, don't know of anyone that does. But to hear the conservative extremists talk, abortions are like taking a shower. It happens every day and nobody really thinks about it. So this started me thinking, "How did it get to be this way? How did the right manage to distort the views of the left in such grotesque ways?" And it can all be summed up in one word: language.

After the election, I spent some time talking about what I thought the Democratic party needed to do in order to regain some political control. The first thing I said was that we must control the political language. Abortion is a perfect example of how we've previously lost this battle. What are we known as? We're the "Pro-Choice" party. Sounds good, right? We're for choice. By default that sould make the opposition the "Anti-Choice" party. But no, they're the "Pro-Life" party and by default that implies that we are "Pro-Death." It's all in the syntax and sometimes the more important part of syntax is what is implied rather than what is said.

So how do we do this without looking like we're trying to ride the coat-tails of the Republicans? By claiming to be a "Pro-Life" Democrat this woman was basically saying that my party is wrong on abortion. So we need something else. We need something that says we don't favor abortion, but we intend to protect the woman's right to make her own decisions concerning her body.

The general consensus seems to be that we would like to keep abortions legal but rare. While that sounds great, it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker very well and, let's face it, we live in a bumper sticker society. If it won't fit on a sticker, the average person isn't going to remember it later. This is what got John Kerry into trouble. He didn't speak in short mono-syllabic sentences like Bush did. He didn't speak in soundbites. Therefore, he looked bad on the evening news going into some long, complicated explanation about a particular issue. While the issue at hand probably required that long, complicated explanation, people lost interest after the first few words. They want short, sweet, and memorable. They can't remember things like this:

Although I think that was one of the greatest answers I've ever heard from a politician concerning abortion, people don't remember that. It's too long and complicated. It requires thinking and reasoning. What was Bush's response?

Even though it's total bullshit, people can remember that. The evening news can make a soundbite out of that. The PACs can make a commercial out of that. It means nothing, but it would fit on a bumper sticker.

So this week I want to discuss some of these issues. Issues like abortion, education, Iraq and others and I want to hear your ideas on how we can regain control of the political language. What can we put on our bumper stickers? Each day this week I'll throw out a new topic and leave it up to you to discuss. At the end of the week, we'll see what we've got and determine what we can do with it. So let's hear it people. What would you put on your abortion bumper sticker?

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