One of the biggest problems Democrats face in the messaging wars that Republicans have been waging for more than 30 years, is the fact that we are always playing defense. Republicans ascribe a label to us and we quickly scramble to explain how that label isn't true and why. But as we all know, our message gets lost in the middle of the rebuttal.
The best way to combat this is to start taking control of the dialog ourselves and put Republicans on the defense for a change. Democrats need to start calling Republicans out for who they are and what they stand for politically. To do that, we'll need both new terminology and the ability to turn their own memes back on them.
Here are three things we can begin going on the offense about immediately:
1. Republicans are legislating a Daddy State.
Republicans across the country are using their state legislatures to reach into every aspect of our lives; from restricting our access to basic health care, giving our employers the right to pry into our personal medical needs and refuse us insurance coverage they "morally" object to, and forcing women to endure invasive and unnecessary medical procedures against their wills. Republicans are legislating government control of women's health care all across this nation. And Democrats see this as a gross violation of the freedoms and liberties that we love about living in America. (Adapted from words used by Rep Steve King re the Patient Protection Act.)
The Republican Party would love nothing more than to turn this great country into a Daddy State, where "the man of the family" not only gets to set the rules, but they get to punish us when we're "bad" in their eyes.
It's that "Strict Father" mindset that radical conservative regressives use to shape their own families. And they want to bring that structure to America as a whole, by implementing what George Lakoff calls The Santorum Strategy.
Well we've got news for them, right, Dems? They aren't our Daddies and we aren't going to let them act like it, either!
2. Republicans are the Party of Gut and Spend.
Republicans continually gut services to the poor and needy to spend on the wealthy elite with tax breaks for their gambling losses; unemployment benefits going to millionaires; and reimbursements for property damage on estates that should have been covered by insurance, that the wealthy could afford but chose not to carry. (Source for millionaire handouts: Subsidies for the Rich & Famous by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) pdf.)
Gut and Spend takes money out of the pockets of hard-working families in America and gives it away to the rich and powerful. Gut and Spend policies have decimated the middle class, leaving a bigger and bigger gap between the used-to-haves and the have-more-than-the-99-percent-put-togethers.
House Republicans passed a Gut and Spend budget that made deep cuts predominantly on low-income families at a time when millions are still out of work and have to rely on their earned benefits to survive, while not eliminating a dime of entitlements that are handed out to the wealthiest among us, and at the same time lowering their burden of taxes to its lowest level since Herbert Hoover.
The Republicans' Gut and Spend policy is a Path to Poverty and bad for America.
3. Republicans are the Party of Large Corporate Government. Republicans don't want smaller government, they want an Unelected Corporate Government that they can collude with outside the system of fair elections. The more successful they are at continuing to build this Large Corporate Government, the less voters will have a say in how schools are run, how prisons are run, or even how our most precious asset — our military — is run. Now Paul Ryan is conditioning America to believe that our Generals are lying to us! What better reason to replace them with the contractors of the Republican Party's choosing once they're in a position of power to hire them? We must prevent this from happening at all costs. Turning our government over to Unelected Corporations is anti-Democratic and un-American.
I urge you to contact your representatives in the House and Senate and ask them to start talking about the Republican Party in these terms. How we frame their positions will be critical in preventing their efforts to create a radical conservative future for America.