GOP pollster Frank Luntz has advice for Republicans on how to talk about Occupy Wall Street: don't use the word "capitalism," say "I get it" to the protesters and never use the word "bonus" to talk about executive bonuses. The tips, as Yahoo News' Chris Moody recounted from a session with the Republican Governors Association last week, are vintage Luntz. His book has the subtitle: "It's not what you say, it's what people hear" and he's also helped usher in plenty of language shifts throughout the Bush years, like swapping the term "global warming" with "climate change."
It's a good guess that the messaging tips for the GOP about the Occupy movement will show up in Republican rhetoric. And Chris Moody arranges his quotes from the session into helpful bullet points. Here are just a few selections from Luntz's advice:
1. Don't say 'capitalism.'
"I'm trying to get that word removed and we're replacing it with either 'economic freedom' or 'free market,' " Luntz said. "The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we're seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we've got a problem."
Ok, so swap "capitalism" with "free markets," then:
6. Don't ever say you're willing to 'compromise.'
"If you talk about 'compromise,' they'll say you're selling out. Your side doesn't want you to 'compromise.' What you use in that to replace it with is 'cooperation.' It means the same thing. But cooperation means you stick to your principles but still get the job done. Compromise says that you're selling out those principles."
Sure, can't compromise with Occupiers. But then:
7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: 'I get it.'
"First off, here are three words for you all: 'I get it.' . . . 'I get that you're angry. I get that you've seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system."
Then, he instructed, offer Republican solutions to the problem.
So, to recap: don't be in favor of compromising, but still make sure you properly feel the pain--vaguely--with the frustrations of occupiers while directing them to GOP talking points and peppering the conversation with the words "free markets."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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