Rubio's Use of Language

In my ongoing commentary about language -- how Republicans should use it, how they neglect to use it, and how they use it successfully -- the next spotlight is on Marco Rubio.  I am no more endorsing him for president than I did Romney or Kasich in my previous articles on the topic. 

Although Rubio lost support among the grassroots for his immigration proposal -- a neophyte mistake he acknowledges -- he is likely our most promising and talented communicator.  He has a way of extemporaneously discussing a range of issues in a Reaganesque manner -- minus the humor and twinkle in the eye. He does not talk at voters or down to them, but identifies with them and their circumstances, and attributes to them an understanding of how our economy works and our place in the world.  

In anticipation of the State of the Union address, ABC’s Bob Schieffer asked  for his thoughts on the President’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy by $320 billion and increase government spending by $235 million, some of which would fund two free years of community college. His response to Schieffer brought a smile to my face, leading off with the following three sound bites that Republicans should repeat, mantra-like, in every media appearance until November 8, 2016:   

This is a 20th century outdated model the president is following.  The notion, first of all, that in order for some people to do better, someone has to do worst is just not true. 

Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful.

The good news about free enterprise is that everyone can succeed without punishing anyone.

Highlighting the need for higher education reform, he continues:

In the 21st century, to have the skills you need for a middle class job, you need higher education of some form…. The problem is [Obama] just wants to pour that additional money into the broken existing [educational] system…  a lot of people will graduate with AA degrees that don’t lead to anything but another 4 year degree that may not lead to a job. What we need to do is create competition with alternative methods where people can acquire certification programs that take less than 2 years and get you to work right away as a welder, an electrician, an airplane mechanic.

I wish he would spend more time on that and less time trying to raise taxes and pour money into an outdated model that no longer works in the 21st  century.

His first three points speak directly to the listener and prompt him to question the underlying reasons for the tax hikes -- will higher taxes help me get a job, increase my income, take care of my family?  Not only is a Republican addressing his kitchen table concerns, but suddenly the listener realizes there is another way -- he can get a job, increase his income, and take care of his family without increasing the tax burden on others. Now that he is actually paying attention to the Republican, he will be more open to the solutions.

Before policies can be explained, the voter has to identify with the speaker. This is something Republicans either overlook completely or continue to get backwards:  Let me tell you about my ideas and then you’ll see I’m looking out for you, as opposed to I’m listening intently to your concerns, they have registered with me, and, now that I have your attention, here is what I propose.      

Another tactic where Republicans fail and Democrats excel, is speaking with one voice -- that is why I suggest Rubio’s sound bites be repeated as often as possible. From pundit, to politician, to the emails from MoveOn and Organizing for Action, to the media hounds repeating their quips -- Democrats mimic one another with the same buzz words and memes in easy-to-remember language: The wealthiest Americans must pay their fair share; We have to raise the minimum wage in order to raise middle class income; Everyone deserves a college education; White America is still racist; Republicans have waged a war on women.    

We don’t have to re-create the wheel every time one of our own hits the media parade.  We just need to parrot one another with memorable, meaningful sound bites like the ones Rubio gave us.     

This is not easy for conservatives; it’s not part of our DNA. We each try to stand out using original content in our media appearances. We don’t speak as a party united, but independently of one another. So committed are we to our individual expression and, so repulsed are we by any notion of groupthink, that we often lose in the PR war, especially in national elections.

As a result, our messaging is often verbose and muddled. The content is often difficult for distracted audiences to grasp. We throw around buzz words like fiscal responsibility, limited government, and socialism as if everyone in the listening audience knows exactly what they mean -- even some of the most educated among us don’t understand these concepts. We talk about continuing resolutions and filibusters while the Democrats talk about government shutdowns and obstruction. We talk about lowering the tax and regulation burden on business while the Democrats talk about lowering the burden on single mothers, the poor, students, and minorities. You and I know this is not the case, but to average Americans listening to the language we use, it often seems like we have forgotten to make a human connection with the target audience, the beneficiaries of all of our wonderful conservative policies.    

Rubio is an outlier whose ability to speak to the masses flies in the face of what the media, Democrats, and the people have come to expect. I’d give him an A for his response to Schieffer but to get an A+, I’d like to see him paint a picture in the mind’s eye of every ABC listener -- a picture of raucous government functionaries squandering their hard-earned money. The underlying question would be where will this money go and do I trust the government to spend it wisely?

So, I would suggest he start his response as follows:

Bob, what you are really asking is what do your listeners think of the President’s proposal to siphon $320 BILLION out of the economy -- away from their businesses, jobs and salaries -- and redirect that money to agencies like the GSA to spend on senseless parties in Vegas; or the VA to waste on conferences in the Caribbean instead of on our Vets; or the IRS to spend on agents who hunt down individuals based on their political affiliations but aren’t available to answer simple tax questions on the tax hotline.      

Your listeners understand the need for some taxes, but know that, under the President’s proposal, an electrician will lose a contract for a new housing development if the developer has to turn his money over to the government instead.       

Ah, the power of suggestion: tell the viewer what he doesn’t know or might know on a subliminal level; or repeatedly suggest to him that he is missing something other ABC listeners understand.

This is all about using language to communicate to a group of people and persuade them to believe in you -- your ideas, your services, or your products. As long as you are honest, it’s what you do to negotiate a contract, close a deal, get a date, advertise your product, persuade a jury, present your client to the media, or garner votes. Language is malleable and can be arranged in infinite combinations to generate almost any response, emotion, or action. Take advantage of that magic. Don’t keep trying to pull the same rabbit out of the same hat.    

As conservatives, our main objective is to provide the largest number of people with the best opportunities and the most prosperity by advancing the greatest amount of freedom with the least amount of government interference. We shouldn’t be afraid to play with words and perfect the language we employ to achieve that goal.   

While Republicans were hugely successful in this latest election, victory isn’t guaranteed in the 2016 presidential election especially running against the first potential female President and the Clinton machine. We continue to lose among single women, the youth, new Americans, and minorities. Voters living in poverty identify with Democrats. Voters who have traditionally voted R are voting D in increasing numbers -- for example, Asian-Americans. These are the demographics to whom we have to sell our policies, principles and solutions. And we have to speak to them in a familiar language while advancing our policies.  Rubio did just that in his response to the president’s tax plan and others would be wise to emulate him.     

In my ongoing commentary about language -- how Republicans should use it, how they neglect to use it, and how they use it successfully -- the next spotlight is on Marco Rubio.  I am no more endorsing him for president than I did Romney or Kasich in my previous articles on the topic. 

Although Rubio lost support among the grassroots for his immigration proposal -- a neophyte mistake he acknowledges -- he is likely our most promising and talented communicator.  He has a way of extemporaneously discussing a range of issues in a Reaganesque manner -- minus the humor and twinkle in the eye. He does not talk at voters or down to them, but identifies with them and their circumstances, and attributes to them an understanding of how our economy works and our place in the world.  

In anticipation of the State of the Union address, ABC’s Bob Schieffer asked  for his thoughts on the President’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy by $320 billion and increase government spending by $235 million, some of which would fund two free years of community college. His response to Schieffer brought a smile to my face, leading off with the following three sound bites that Republicans should repeat, mantra-like, in every media appearance until November 8, 2016:   

This is a 20th century outdated model the president is following.  The notion, first of all, that in order for some people to do better, someone has to do worst is just not true. 

Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful.

The good news about free enterprise is that everyone can succeed without punishing anyone.

Highlighting the need for higher education reform, he continues:

In the 21st century, to have the skills you need for a middle class job, you need higher education of some form…. The problem is [Obama] just wants to pour that additional money into the broken existing [educational] system…  a lot of people will graduate with AA degrees that don’t lead to anything but another 4 year degree that may not lead to a job. What we need to do is create competition with alternative methods where people can acquire certification programs that take less than 2 years and get you to work right away as a welder, an electrician, an airplane mechanic.

I wish he would spend more time on that and less time trying to raise taxes and pour money into an outdated model that no longer works in the 21st  century.

His first three points speak directly to the listener and prompt him to question the underlying reasons for the tax hikes -- will higher taxes help me get a job, increase my income, take care of my family?  Not only is a Republican addressing his kitchen table concerns, but suddenly the listener realizes there is another way -- he can get a job, increase his income, and take care of his family without increasing the tax burden on others. Now that he is actually paying attention to the Republican, he will be more open to the solutions.

Before policies can be explained, the voter has to identify with the speaker. This is something Republicans either overlook completely or continue to get backwards:  Let me tell you about my ideas and then you’ll see I’m looking out for you, as opposed to I’m listening intently to your concerns, they have registered with me, and, now that I have your attention, here is what I propose.      

Another tactic where Republicans fail and Democrats excel, is speaking with one voice -- that is why I suggest Rubio’s sound bites be repeated as often as possible. From pundit, to politician, to the emails from MoveOn and Organizing for Action, to the media hounds repeating their quips -- Democrats mimic one another with the same buzz words and memes in easy-to-remember language: The wealthiest Americans must pay their fair share; We have to raise the minimum wage in order to raise middle class income; Everyone deserves a college education; White America is still racist; Republicans have waged a war on women.    

We don’t have to re-create the wheel every time one of our own hits the media parade.  We just need to parrot one another with memorable, meaningful sound bites like the ones Rubio gave us.     

This is not easy for conservatives; it’s not part of our DNA. We each try to stand out using original content in our media appearances. We don’t speak as a party united, but independently of one another. So committed are we to our individual expression and, so repulsed are we by any notion of groupthink, that we often lose in the PR war, especially in national elections.

As a result, our messaging is often verbose and muddled. The content is often difficult for distracted audiences to grasp. We throw around buzz words like fiscal responsibility, limited government, and socialism as if everyone in the listening audience knows exactly what they mean -- even some of the most educated among us don’t understand these concepts. We talk about continuing resolutions and filibusters while the Democrats talk about government shutdowns and obstruction. We talk about lowering the tax and regulation burden on business while the Democrats talk about lowering the burden on single mothers, the poor, students, and minorities. You and I know this is not the case, but to average Americans listening to the language we use, it often seems like we have forgotten to make a human connection with the target audience, the beneficiaries of all of our wonderful conservative policies.    

Rubio is an outlier whose ability to speak to the masses flies in the face of what the media, Democrats, and the people have come to expect. I’d give him an A for his response to Schieffer but to get an A+, I’d like to see him paint a picture in the mind’s eye of every ABC listener -- a picture of raucous government functionaries squandering their hard-earned money. The underlying question would be where will this money go and do I trust the government to spend it wisely?

So, I would suggest he start his response as follows:

Bob, what you are really asking is what do your listeners think of the President’s proposal to siphon $320 BILLION out of the economy -- away from their businesses, jobs and salaries -- and redirect that money to agencies like the GSA to spend on senseless parties in Vegas; or the VA to waste on conferences in the Caribbean instead of on our Vets; or the IRS to spend on agents who hunt down individuals based on their political affiliations but aren’t available to answer simple tax questions on the tax hotline.      

Your listeners understand the need for some taxes, but know that, under the President’s proposal, an electrician will lose a contract for a new housing development if the developer has to turn his money over to the government instead.       

Ah, the power of suggestion: tell the viewer what he doesn’t know or might know on a subliminal level; or repeatedly suggest to him that he is missing something other ABC listeners understand.

This is all about using language to communicate to a group of people and persuade them to believe in you -- your ideas, your services, or your products. As long as you are honest, it’s what you do to negotiate a contract, close a deal, get a date, advertise your product, persuade a jury, present your client to the media, or garner votes. Language is malleable and can be arranged in infinite combinations to generate almost any response, emotion, or action. Take advantage of that magic. Don’t keep trying to pull the same rabbit out of the same hat.    

As conservatives, our main objective is to provide the largest number of people with the best opportunities and the most prosperity by advancing the greatest amount of freedom with the least amount of government interference. We shouldn’t be afraid to play with words and perfect the language we employ to achieve that goal.   

While Republicans were hugely successful in this latest election, victory isn’t guaranteed in the 2016 presidential election especially running against the first potential female President and the Clinton machine. We continue to lose among single women, the youth, new Americans, and minorities. Voters living in poverty identify with Democrats. Voters who have traditionally voted R are voting D in increasing numbers -- for example, Asian-Americans. These are the demographics to whom we have to sell our policies, principles and solutions. And we have to speak to them in a familiar language while advancing our policies.  Rubio did just that in his response to the president’s tax plan and others would be wise to emulate him.