Don't Think of a Capitalist!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 1 2011 12:02 PM

Don't Think of a Capitalist!

Chris Moody, on the ground in Florida, writes up some of the advice that uber-pollster Frank Luntz gave to Republican governors. The challenge, surprisingly: Talking about the Occupy movement and its various angsts. Surprising, because snap polls on the protesters themselves have shown the public backing away from them, losing interest and sympathy for the camps-for-change strategy. And the protesters haven't exactly strategized a fightback; I'm noticing that most "mic checks" are targeting political figures, not because they enforce inequality, but because they break up camps. See: Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Back to Luntz, who acknowledges that the Occupiers -- really, the "we are the 99%" message -- is a political problem. You can't just dive-bomb it with Ayn Rand quotes. Don't talk about "capitalism," says Luntz.

"I'm trying to get that word removed and we're replacing it with either 'economic freedom' or 'free market,' " Luntz said. "The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we're seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we've got a problem."

Don't talk about the left "taxing the rich," even though every atom tells you to fight back on "class warfare."

"If you talk about raising taxes on the rich," the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But "if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes."

It's fun and rewarding to take Luntz advice -- which he shares very publically -- and screen it against what Republicans actually say. Currently, it's actually Democrats who talk a lot about "hard-working Americans." But Republicans do some of that, too. They're already all-in on "job creators," using that appelation to describe/condemn all possible tax increases on people who make good money.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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