Connoisseurs of political spin are directed to “The Lexicon of Political Clout” by conservative consultant and GOP sound bite guru Frank Luntz in in todays’ LA Times. Luntz, author of the GOP Playbook (see Feb 24 and March 2 posts below) defends his “A New American Lexicon,” in which he advises his conservative clients to use specific phrases and avoid others in describing their policies. Luntz decries the “Orwellian” label liberal commentators have used to describe his terminology. But at the very least, he displays a flair for euphemisms that torture reason and language. For example:
I would assert that “responsible exploration for energy,” which includes the search for incredibly clean natural gas, is a far different activity than plunking down a well haphazardly and just “drilling for oil.”
Similarly, I’m for calling the money paid to help parents choose their kids’ school a “scholarship” because “voucher” trivializes the powerful opportunity the transaction confers on poor families. I’d argue that it’s more accurate to call “school choice” “parental choice in education.” Considering how such a program equalizes education for rich and poor, the most accurate phrase would be “equal opportunity in education.”
What Democratic strategists can learn from Luntz is to pay closer attention to crafting the language of political discourse, a pivotal factor in GOP victories of recent years. If we keep our language clear and straight, the GOP will be regarded as the party of equivocation.