To win, Democrats must tell a good, simple story for each candidate and campaign. Every website page, every campaign handout, every press release must tell our story simply and clearly. We do not excel at this (yet)
. The Dark Side does (bastards)
Kevin Nealon's Mr. Subliminal from Saturday Night Live shows us how. Kevin (balding) appeared on the SNL Weekend Update and dropped in low-voiced frames (funny) after each news item. Like this (made-up quote):
"President Reagan (old guy) visited with Prime Minister Thatcher (scary) for nearly three hours, leading some observers (tabloids) to comment on their enduring friendship (hot affair.)"
Um (grossed myself out), anyway (ewww), Subliminal Man was funny! Read a real subliminal transcript.
And Democrats should be more like him.
More after the jump
We don't have to audition for SNL; we DO have to use subliminal frames correctly.
Three reasons to write a political page:
- Advertising to the general public
- Teaching curious undecideds about issues
- Recruiting smart volunteers
political communication means the audience gets our real story
--the frames we're communicating subliminally--as well as basic facts. When trying to woo an audience, we must nail down our real story first (advertising)
work on teaching (issues)
and recruiting others(smart guys.)
Democratic political pages want to tell a simple story:
"Our candidate is nice, mainstream, and works hard. She knows about politics, policy, and the real world. You should support our candidate. Democrats will fix the radical right's mess."
But that real story is told subliminally. Just like Subliminal Man on SNL. Each sentence, each paragraph contains an image (frame) that can be summed up in a single word. For example, a good candidate biography page answers the reader's question: "Who is this person? Would I like her?" Good beginning of a bio:
"Molly Brown is an Idaho native, raised in Post Falls on a small family farm. She is the long-time nursing director at Lake Valley Hospital. Molly, husband Jeff, and their three children live in Coeur d'Alene. Susan, Joey, and Nicole love school and playing with their dog, Tucker."
Good subliminal real story: reliable, hardworker, mainstream, with a dog
- Molly Brown is an Idaho native, raised in Post Falls on a small family farm. (reliable)
- She is the long-time nursing director at Lake Valley Hospital. (hard worker)
- Molly, husband Jeff, and their three children live in Coeur d'Alene. (mainstream)
- Susan, Joey, and Nicole love school and playing with their dog, Tucker. (awww, a dog!)
can subliminal frames help us win? We win by:
A) recognizing subliminals
B) choosing the right ones to answer a voter's question
C) putting them in the right order
Democrats are rapidly gaining ground on A) and B). George Lakoff's work on promoting progressive frames and Jeffrey Feldman's Frameshop are good examples. We need to work on C) putting them in the right order. Educational and psychological research shows us that the best way to convince someone to do something is to present positive images first, then negative if needed, then finish positively.
Political pages must be written with the right subliminal frames, AND the frames must occur in the right order. We muck up our simple stories by providing accurate information (smart) in the wrong subliminal order (dumb). Poor order of frames in a candidate bio:
"Democrats have an uphill battle in red-state Idaho and need Molly Brown to help them fight! We haven't won this district since WWII, but Molly will win in 2006. The Republicans are making a giant mess in health care. Molly Brown has a doctorate in nursing science. She will fight for health care in Washington. Let's vote the incumbent Republican OUT!"
Poor subliminal real story: losers, desperate, deluded, angry, smart, competent, angry.
- Democrats have an uphill battle in red-state Idaho (losers)
- and need Molly Brown to help them fight! (desperate)
- We haven't won this district since WWII, but Molly will win in 2006. (deluded)
- The Republicans are making a giant mess in health care. (angry)
- Molly Brown has a doctorate in nursing science. (smart)
- She will fight for health care in Washington. (competent)
- Let's vote the incumbent Republican OUT! (angry)
Confusing story, TMI, and in the wrong order. Right order
: positive, then negative, end positive! So, what are a Democratic candidate's winning subliminal messages for 2006? What order should they go in?
: Try the Subliminal Man method yourself! Get a piece of campaign information or visit a webpage. As you finish each sentence or paragraph, state the subliminal message in one or two words. Then up the ante and sum up whole campaigns in a single word and/or phrase:
- Bush04: "GAY Democrats are gonna Marry Your Kids and make them Terrorists."
- Kerry mailer, July 04: "Bush is Scary; I'm Smart. Give MONEY."
- Clinton: "The Comeback Kid from a Place called HOPE will Fix this Economy."
- Reagan: "Funny Grandpa says It's MORNING in America."