Language is Power in Politics  

“As [Dr. Frank] Luntz himself argues in his 2007 book, Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear — ‘You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and pre-existing beliefs. It’s not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes.'”

Below is a voiceover of an earlier version of the science-based stump speech template

Play Video

According to linguistic scientist George Lakoff: 

“Traditional liberal discourse strategies are not consistent with the science of how reason really works. . . . Some commentators point out that conservatives vote against their economic interests. What they miss is that those conservatives are voting their moral interests, and they will continue to do so. Therefore liberals need to understand the difference between policy and morality and that morality beats policy. Moral discourse is thus absolutely necessary. Failing to understand this is a major reason why the Democrats lost the House in 2010.“ 

The Little Blue Book, the Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, by Lakoff and Wehling (2012)  

Template for a Science-based Stump Speech on Money in Politics (ver. 1-18-19)

(This template for a stump speech is based on the behavioral science of “framing”)

Every election is a choice.  Sometimes the choice involves a policy issue. Sometimes it’s a choice between personalities. But in this election, the stakes are much, much higher.

Because in this election the choice is about what kind of Government we will have:

  • Will we have Government “of the People, by the People, for the People” committed to those things that you care about, such as a good education for your children and reducing the cost of health care you and your family?;
  • Or, will we have a government where the system is rigged, and powerful special interests call the shots?

The Founding Fathers of this nation fought a war so that “We, The People” would have the freedom to govern this great nation. And, during our nation’s wars, brave and loyal Americans have honored their sacred duty to serve and protect our democracy — and our right to vote.

These courageous and patriotic Americans did not sacrifice their lives so that politicians who lack backbone and who lack moral courage could sell us out.  Such politicians stain our democracy and betray us by taking campaign contributions from power-hungry special interests and their influence peddling lobbyists.

Think about the history of this great nation — and ask yourself these questions:

  • If a politician has sold out to the health insurance industry by taking large campaign contributions from them, how hard are they going to work for you … to reduce your health care costs?
  • Isn’t our freedom — the American way of life — based on Government “of the People, by the People, for the People — not Government of the corporation, by the corporation for the corporation?
  • Isn’t it time for us to unite and stand together and say we’ve had enough of politicians who are in the pockets of power-hungry special interests?

What have the great leaders of this country said about this subject?

Thomas Jefferson — a son of Virginia, one of the Founding Fathers of our great nation, author of the Declaration of Independence, and our 3rd President — believed that power-hungry “corporations” posed a threat to our democracy.*

And, Teddy Roosevelt — an American war hero, our 26th President, and a Republican — knew corporate campaign contributions corrupted our democracy and so he urged that corporations be completely banned from making campaign contributions.  Republican President Teddy Roosevelt had this to say … and I quote: “I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party. …  let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.“**

Roosevelt studied the bible and the bible supported Roosevelt’s view that corporate campaign contributions corrupt. Exodus: 23:8 is quite clear.  It says:  “And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” (King James version).

Imagine … just imagine … how much better off we would be if we had leaders who renewed, restored, and honored the values and traditions of this great nation by standing with and for “the People” — and by standing up to power-hungry special interests by refusing their campaign cash.

And John McCain — an American war hero, a U.S. Senator, and a Republican — explained why we Americans must be united in our commitment to fix the broken campaign finance system.  McCain stated that every generation must commit itself to safeguard the republic that previous generations had built, and that the nature of reform demands constant vigilance and periodic overhaul — and that is how this nation endures.***

Let me tell you about the action I have taken.

I have instructed my team that we will reject all campaign contributions from corporations, from corporate PACs, and from corporate lobbyists. Not one dime!

Why am I rejecting these campaign contributions?

Because our nation is founded on the principle of Government “of the People, by the People, for the People,” so that you, the hardworking taxpayers of our community, would have elected officials who are beholden solely to you — and who will fight for those things that you care about, such as a good education for your children and reducing the cost of health care for you and your family.

You have a right to elected officials who are independent and loyal to you, “the People” — not to power-hungry corporate special interests.

And by rejecting corporate campaign contributions, I canand will — do the job you elect me to do: Put the interests of you, “The People” of this community, first.

And so, if you remember only one thing, remember this (pause):   We can have the kind of Government our Founding Fathers put their lives on the line for.  This is within our power.

But for us to make this happen, we need to unite — and we to do something.

We need to honor the memory of the men and women who sacrificed their lives in war to protect our right to vote — we need to do that by voting. And we need to work together to get our friends — and our neighbors — to vote.

I ask you to stand with me. (pause)  Join me. (pause) And together, we will have a Government that serves you, your families, and all the People of this great community.


* 1816, Thomas Jefferson:  “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

* *Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 State of the Union message — excerpt:  “I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party. Such a bill has already past one House of Congress. Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.”

*** Why I’m Getting Back into the Fight for Reform, by Matt Keller