A good tagline is simple, effective and hypnotic if done properly, and it conveys a message that’s easy to remember with a minimal amount of words. How come the Republican Party is so good at the tagline? I’ve always thought the Republican Party had a better promotional machine – at least it’s easier to sell Republican ideals. But basically Republicans have a self centered pitch. When Progressives try to express a concern, it’s just that, another concern, probably worthwhile and essential for the community at large, but just another concern.
Republicans and Neo-Liberals talk about ways to save you money. You may save a dollar, the Oligarchs will save a few more than you and the politicians will take their cut, but at least everybody’s getting something. Notice that it doesn’t matter if we are all losing in the big picture. The short term gains look so much better than the effort it takes to run a democracy that’s fair for all.
That’s where the tagline comes in: it not only unites a group of people, but gives their lives meaning. Usually it’s a self righteous spin or a us against them scenario – whatever the issue, it’s a well crafted tagline that’s employed. Trump has used “The Wall” even before he became president – he would protect us against the “bad hombre”, “the caravan”, “border children” or “radical Islamic terrorists”.
In the 60’s they would use the phrase “forced bussing” and in the 80’s they would use the phrase “war on drugs” to achieve their goals, because the listeners would know that they would be taking money away from minorities even though they were shooting themselves in the foot.
Ronald Reagan used the same approach when he ran for president but he used the abhorrent tagline of the “Welfare Queen” to help him gain the presidency. “Family Values” has been a line used since Reagan. Newt Gingrich used “contract with America” in the 90’s to great effect while destroying bipartisan cooperation in Washington – that continues till this day.
We can’t forget of course the “axis of evil”, “mushroom cloud” or “weapons of mass destruction” taglines that made our invasion of Iraq possible. How about the “moral majority” or “compassionate conservatism”? Those sound very religious yet fuddy duddy at the same pathetic time. Another line the Republicans like to use on us is the “law and order candidate”. Trump used it in 2016. What he was saying is: I alone can keep you safe.
The controlled use of words has combined with the consolidation of news outlets and left our country in a very precarious situation. Propoganists can choose words that stir emotion, provoke a response and accelerate an agenda. Whether it be an election, a war, or a movement. They try to exercise their will through us by penetrating our beings with ideas that have a impact, motivate or even cause alarm. It’s what Noam Chomsky calls “Manufacturing Consent”.
The bottom line is, again, these are control tactics that will whip up followers into a frenzy, sometimes into a mad rage of hate that can propel manufactured movements into power. This momentum is what they desire because it can easily “take on a life of its own”. At the same time their believers feel alive with a sense of purpose and government power can be used without limits.
Sorry for picking on the Republicans so much – I know the Democrats use them as well but it’s typically words like “Change” or “Hope” that President Obama used to persuade his constituents to rally around him. The important thing is the need to understand the power of words so we as a people don’t continually fall victim to the powerful and unwillingly submit to sweet tunes of the Pied Piper.