Delaware National

From US and WE to I and YOU

Democrats do not need to change there values, ideals, or platform. They just need to change their message structure.

Now, across the country, Democratic law makers and supporters are trying to put together a plan to correct their course and retake control. In watching the morning and evening news programs, a theme has become apparent. The manner in which they role out ideas and theories are almost always presented in terms of the collective: “WE will provide insurance for all of US”; “WE all want”; “WE all need”; and “WE do this for all of US.” In contrast, in listening to the GOP put forth their strategy this week in Philadelphia, you hear a very different way of posing their plans. Republicans, generally, speak in terms of the individual. They make it more personal, instead of social: “YOU the American people want”; “YOU don’t need government telling YOU what to do”; “I understand what YOU are saying”; and “I am going to make sure to bring more jobs for YOU.”

Democrats, and rightly so, have always been concerned with the welfare of the many. Republicans have always concentrated on the needs of the few, the individual. This message resonates much clearer and more personally to voters, particularly  those who feel left out of the mainstream, or pushed aside by global and social policies. The direct message that says “I feel YOUR pain” and “I hear YOUR fears” I much more powerful than one the offers to help all. Deep down, people want to know that their needs will be met first, before the rest of the community/nation. It is this innate egocentric view that gives the Republican message such power. It is not that people are selfish and self-serving, but deep down, everyone wants to be heard and know that they are valued.

Democrats do not need to change there values, ideals, or platform. They just need to change their message structure. Talking in terms of the nation and Americans as a whole is the right thing to do. It is how things should be phrased. Unfortunately, it is not a message format that resonates with everyone. People do not want to be told what the need, they want to be acknowledged for what the want. Universal Healthcare explained in these terms would go much farther, like, “do YOU WANT be paying $30 out of YOUR paycheck in the form of a tax, instead of $200 in the form of a premium?” The standard Democratic message of, “if WE ALL contribute, WE ALL get the healthcare we need,” falls short of the intended goal.  The first phrase puts it in easy, understandable, and personal terms. The second leads to the all to common argument of “why should I pay for someone else’s healthcare?” The issue with this method is making the message personal, meaningful, and understandable. The GOP has all but cornered the market on this. The last part is where Democrats often fall short. Tapping into the emotion of the issue is most often more effective than explaining the details. If you need evidence of this theory, just look in the Oval Office.

10 comments on “From US and WE to I and YOU

  1. Perhaps, but the difference is so subtle I doubt the average American will pick up on it. To me the Republican message is always based on anger, and that was decades before Trump. Their message remains unchanged: “Mexicans are taking your jobs!”, “poor people are taking your money!” used as a diversion from their real goal of feeding the rich, screwing the poor and starting wars.

    • HyperbolicDem

      Yes, but putting it in terms of YOUR is much scarier than OUR. Making the message personal to the individual is much more powerful than the group. Even in like minded groups, individuals will always look after their own interests in the end, if they feel threatened enough.

  2. I agree with HyperbolicDem and wikwox. Personalizing the Dem message is a good idea, but don’t count on it working on Republicans – who have always loved their SS, their Medicare, their roads being fixed, their ACA, their libraries, their public schools,etc..

    This is one reason why so many Trump voters are shocked about getting rid of the ACA. They were supposed to keep theirs – because they are the working class and they deserve it, unlike those other people. They didn’t vote to lose their health insurance. They voted for those undeserving other people to lose theirs.

    So much of this comes back to individuals deciding who is worthy. It’s a classic example of punching down to lift yourself up.

    • HyperbolicDem

      That’s why the Dems made a mistake in giving in to the Obamacare phrase. The message should have always been “YOU will lose YOUR insurance if the ACA is repealed.” Saying that “millions of Americans will lose Healthcare if Obamacare is repealed” is still not personal enough. Pointing out that YOUR grandparents will suffer with cuts to medicare, or YOUR child with Autism will not be able to get the full ABA therapy treatments without the supplemental Medicaid plan hits much closer to home than the “many,” or “millions of people” phrasing.

  3. I have argued for years, actually decades, that Dem messaging has missed an essential element that all effective communications contains…….SELF INTEREST. Maybe, finally we are getting a clue.

  4. dthompon3662

    There are a couple things I would like to see changed in terms of values, but by and far you are pretty spot on. Messaging, particularly the sub conscious messaging found in subtle differences in wording, make a huge difference in terms of how what you say will make people feel when they hear it.

    • HyperbolicDem

      If this election taught us anything, it is that we do not all hold the same values and ideals when it comes to our personal beliefs. How many of us were stunned to find that a coworker, close friend, or family member voted for Trump? This comes down to what they felt was in their on self interests. That’s not to say they were selfish, but they had a fear that their lives would be personally affected positively by Trump.

  5. cassandram

    One of the things that the GOP does is always presume they are speaking for ALL AMERICANS. They don’t of course, but they seize the legitimacy and bluster their way through. In point of fact, it is typically Dems who are speaking for more Americans, they have to start thinking in terms of the stuff that Americans say they want — and less about wonky policy. Which would make me sad, because I LIKE wonky policy.

  6. cassandram

    TPM caught an interesting comment from one of the DNC Chair candidates:

    Look, we’ve got a fight. We’ve also got to be fighting for our values. For far too long, Democratic strategy and policy has been organized completely around Republican strategy and policy.

    And all we do is take the yardstick of what have they’re doing and then fight over how ferociously to oppose it or how many parts of it to take up. That is not a strategy that is derived from our own values and our own principles. And if we’re talking about our values before we even bother talking about the republicans, then we can do things like talk about what’s right for the country. And dare Donald Trump to either do it or fail to do it.

    This resonates with me too. Adding this here may change the subject, but the first thing is for Democrats is to speak from their values. Or at least the values Dems are supposed to have. Trying to triangulate to a GOP position doesn’t make much sense when it seems plain that speaking from a place that addresses most American’s concerns is paramount.

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