The November 2, 2010 election was a message to politicians. Will they be able to interpret that message properly?
President Obama spoke to Americans today saying he will listen to both Republicans and Democrats and work with them to find real solutions to economic problems.
Presidential Press Conference, Post-Election 2010
Yet, when Republicans are asked specifically what they will do it sounds like their ideas are the same that they have always proposed in the past. Ideas that were rejected by Americans in the past. Ideas that helped create large deficits with little benefit to the middle class:
1) Keep Bush Tax Cuts and have More Tax Cuts for top 1-2% wealthy
2) Reduce government spending
3) Cut and Privatize Social Security
4) Cut Medicare
5) Repeal Health Care Reform.
If Republicans want fiscal responsibility, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% will not accomplish that. It will increase our deficit by $800 billion. Do Americans understand this point?
What exactly would Republicans do about repealing Health Care? What part of Health Care would they repeal? Do Republicans want to:
1) Put back the pre-existing screen used by insurance companies to keep people from getting health care?
2) Put back caps on people’s insurance policies so people have a limit on how much they can spend on health?
Also, do people really want to cut Social Security?
Do Americans want to cut Medicare?
Do Americans really want to get rid of the Department of Education?
Or, was this election message just frustration about the lack of jobs and a lashing out at the people in power?
Will the People like Boehner who Say they are Problem Solvers, effectively Solve Problems?
John Boehner claims that Republicans are the “problem solvers”. This is interesting considering they were obstructionist for two years. He also paints himself as someone wanting to “reform” the way things are done in Washington. Mr. Boehner has been in Congress and Washington D.C. for nearly 20 years since getting elected in 1990. As one of the biggest Washington insiders with ties to big Tobacco and big Oil, Mr. Boehner at one time handed out checks from the Tobacco industry to colleagues on the floor of the House. He has had lots of time to “reform the way things are done in Washington.” Is Boehner trying to reinvent himself and the Republican party as not being Washington insiders?
Saying you want to be a problem solver does not automatically mean you effectively solve problems. Will Americans be able to see that fine point, especially in 2012?
What will Republicans and Democrats do in the next two years to show the American people that they understand what the big message is that they want?
First, what really is the message from the American people? What do Americans want from their political leaders? Who decided what that message is? There are many messages. Which ones should President Obama, the Democrats and Republicans listen to?
Frank Luntz Talking Points University
It is clear that Frank Luntz has schooled John Boehner in talking points that will make the American people think they are getting something new and something different in his “A New Way Forward Speech”. Is this so-called “new” approach repackaging an old fruit cake from two years ago that has fancy new outer wrappings?
It is up to the American people to hold John Boehner to his talking points. He said, “We have a responsibility to listen to the American people, and listen we will.”
Who are the people Boehner is listening to? The middle class or the top 1%?
Standing in front of a backdrop of a repeated phrase in white offset by blue of “A Pledge to America” Boehner created a photo-op to get his message to viewers, something right out of the Frank Luntz handbook on messaging. Luntz promotes visual cues as an important way to multiply the effect of your talking points. It looks good, but is that all it is — perception as the message? Make people feel like you’re listening, just do it your way anyway? Make people feel like there is change, but repackage old ideas into new wrapping paper? Who will notice? It feels like you’re doing something cause you’ve used words and images that “connect” with your viewers and make them feel good.
This cat must admit, Boehner and Army are good at keeping on message. Democrats could learn something from that. Luntz teaches that repetition is an important part of getting your message across. He urges the messenger to keep saying the same thing over and over again.
Listening Across Party Lines
The irony is that President Obama has always listened to the Republicans. He has opened his door to them much more than Republican presidents have opened their doors to Democrats. He has not just listened to their ideas, he has incorporated them into important legislation which then Republicans have not voted on.
Did Republican talking points and deceptive ads demoralize many Americans, especially young people and minorities and discourage them from coming to the polls on November 2nd? What about the American people’s voices who did not vote on November 2nd? What about their voices? Will they have a chance to be listened to? What prevented these Americans from casting a vote on Nov. 2nd?
Will Republicans truly be open to hear all voices when listening to Americans? Or, will they continue to blame President Obama and chastise him and Speaker Pelosi in their talking points in a finger-pointing strident manner?
How will Boehner propose to create jobs for Americans and cut spending at the same time? Would Boehner support a jobs bill to promote job growth? This might be a “government program” but it could be a positive program to get people back to work and put more money in the hands of Americans. How will Boehner concretely deal with proposals for putting people to work beyond a trickle-down theory of tax cuts?
Where do we go from here?
Please leave a comment about what you think will help bring together this country and also what you think Americans were trying to say last night in the election–even the people who did not come to the polls to vote.
If you voted on November 2nd, what message were you sending to your political representatives? If you did not vote on November 2nd, why not? What message would you like your senators and congressmen and President Obama to hear?