Why The Winning Words Project?

swimmervictory.JPGThere is a compelling need to respond with moral strength in support of progressive policies that have been falsely defined by the GOP for decades. The Left, and Progressives in particular, have allowed ourselves to become defined by the Right. It is therefore imperative that we define ourselves and our policies, and that we do so the right way.

We have allowed our American political discourse to become corrupted with falsehoods and deceptions.

For decades the agenda of the political dialog has been set by the Right Wing messaging machine:

  • The GOP Minister of Propaganda, Frank Luntz and his "handbooks."
  • The GOP Propaganda Media Outlet, Fox.
  • Compliant Republican party members who regurgitate their memes at every opportunity.
  • "Think Tanks" like The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.
  • Lee Atwater’s protégé and Smear-Master extraordinaire, Karl Rove.

This has been literally a war of words, with the Right Wing not just presenting positions for our rational consideration, but using carefully crafted word choice to mold our very assumptions about government.

For example, taxes are nothing more than the nation's income—and ultimately, an investment in America itself—paid for by those who benefit from that investment, based on an individual's, family's, or corporation's income.

But the Right Wing has convinced everyone—unfortunately including our Democratic leaders and our lazy media—that simply talking about the need to increase our nation's income, aka raising taxes, will cause lost jobs and economic calamity.

And the left wing’s own “messaging machine” has been missing in battle during this process. Democrats, liberals, progressives, and even moderates are left struggling to articulate how the right wing policies destroy our communities, our economy, and our country’s moral leadership.

The fundamental problem has been one of how we on the left understand and approach communication. We have a great advantage over the right wing, which is that the factual truth is on our side—“the truth has a liberal bias.” But we’ve also learned, both through the example of what’s happened in politics in the last 40 years, and in numerous social science experiments, that simply telling the truth is not effective for changing political opinions.

Our Mission

Our goals are:

  • To develop effective moral language and framing around the progressive solutions for the issues facing America—to create the “winning words.”
  • To provide resources enabling Democratic, liberal, progressive, and moderate campaigners to successfully communicate about progressive policies, and to effectively fight against right wing language and lies.
  • To especially focus on language and tactics to communicate effectively with so-called “swing voters,” who aren’t true believers of either the left or right.


Do we want to be "The Frank Luntz of the Left"?

Luntz facilitates conservative agendas by a market-driven approach, driven by polling and focus groups, intending to influence people to vote in ways that benefit a select few at the expense of the rest of the nation, and often at the expense of even themselves.

To accomplish this, Luntz formulates what are basically ad slogans designed to sell a vision of America that demonizes the liberal and progressive world view; a view that respects American traditions of social justice, equality for all, preserving a social network for those less fortunate, and conserving our planet for future generations.

So how does one go about getting people to oppose those moral positions?  It’s easy; create lies and distortions of the truth using deceptive language and misleading frames.

And this dishonesty is the biggest reason that progressives have been suspicious of using moral frames for messaging: We prefer honesty! So, no, The Winning Words Project does not want to be seen as "The Luntz of the Left." However ...

What Frank Luntz has known for decades, and what progressives now know, is that framing works.

For example: Framing is why you now drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water, when the original instructions for use called for taking one or two as needed. But since the market had been fully penetrated and the makers of Alka Seltzer wanted to find a way to sell more product, they confirmed with doctors that two tablets would be both effective and harmless, and a new campaign slogan arose: "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh what a relief it is." 

Does anyone take only one Alka Seltzer anymore?

Advertising, marketing, and framing do not have to be lies. They can be 100 percent truthful and pack the same punch. Witness "The War on Women."

That is how The Winning Words Project envisions our mission; not to become "The Luntz of the Left," but to be a counter to Luntz and cohorts, framed by moral values. To recognize that words matter! To promote Winning Words!

So how will we do that?

First and foremost by engaging you. We, the people, have finally recognized the power of our collective voices. The Occupy movement (OWS) didn't just raise awareness of the existence of income disparity in this country—that had been in the news for months before the first sleeping bag was rolled out at Zuccotti Park.

No, what OWS did was to speak in unison on the damage this disparity has done to our economy, and to create a frame that perfectly illustrates the problem with simple imagery—an umbrella under which we can talk about a host of issues related to the welfare of this country, from student loan debt to the housing crisis: The 99 Percent vs. The 1 Percent.

And when that frame took hold, our elected representatives had no choice but to listen and to start working on what needs to be done to fix this very real problem.

To that end, The Winning Words Project will be both a learning tool and a megaphone. We will help formulate the best way to frame messages on a variety of political topics and give you the tools to spread those messages far and wide; in your communities, to the media, and to your elected representatives and those hoping to attain office.

The Winning Words Project will also help those unfamiliar with the concept of framing and its importance. We will help you learn how to come up with frames of your own, and how to (and how not to) debunk right wing frames. The Winning Words Project website will provide a place for you to hone your framing and messaging skills and discuss your ideas with others.

What you can look forward to at The Winning Words Project:

We will have a diverse group of guest contributors who will share their work with us on this site. Among those already on board are:

We and our contributing writers will expose the history of message framing, how and why the right wing have been able to embed their world view into our political consciousness, discuss how distorted language has facilitated dangerous and un-American legislation all across this nation, outline today's issues that need progressive framing in order to be implemented as policy, and cover the election and the issues that are—and that should be—front and center in the debate that will prevail upon the American public to choose our next president.

There will also be:

  • Primers and "How To" posts on framing the progressive moral message that will help you tell our story among your friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
  • Full integration with Twitter and Facebook to help you spread the message farther and wider. (Note: When you register via Twitter and are asked to authorize this site to "post tweets for you," that does not mean that we or the site will ever post tweets as you. It means that you will be able to tweet directly from this site, which will transmit those tweets "for you" without you having to open Twitter in a new tab or window to do so.)
  • And much more as we continue to grow our community.

Please take a moment to register and become a member of The Winning Words community. We look forward to working together to make our vision of the country we believe in a reality.

Let us know what you think so far in the comments below ...

And now read the five things democrats should never say again, and what to replace them with. »

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Showing 21 reactions

commented 2013-12-21 13:38:29 -0800 · Flag
Thank you
@TNProgressive tweeted link to this page. 2012-07-11 15:38:31 -0700
If you want to learn how to #OccupyTheNarrative for liberals, you need to learn about @winningwordspro http://t.co/LLb5iJJd #p2 #Obama2012
commented 2012-07-11 15:36:14 -0700 · Flag
I have a problem with a statement you make, in re Frank Luntz and his merry band of liars. If our entire “messaging” is founded in “responding to” he and his ilk, we lose no matter how effectively framed our response may be. This has, for many years, been the largest failing of the Progressives and Democrat media. In my view, framing has virtually NO place in “responding” to anything—at first. Our most imperative mission should be to create the frame. Let them respond. THEN, framing responses makes sense.

Unless, and until we choose to proactively frame the message, being first on the block to get that message out, and let THEM respond, we will continue to be behind the curve, and our message, no matter how well framed, will be nullified. That is, after all, the value of framing, itself. We can anticipate our message based upon the expected framing of their response. So be it. But, we must anticipate their response in the framing of our message, not respond to theirs. We have, somehow, just got to “get” this, or framing becomes nothing more than an academic exercise.

I look forward to doing so, here. :)
commented 2012-06-26 19:13:11 -0700 · Flag
Hi Peggy, thanks for your question. We could target Target, McDonald’s, Starbucks, a whole host of huge corporations, for not paying their employees in 2012 wages. In fact, your employer likely doesn’t pay 2012 wages. And that’s because the entire nation is still averaging wages at the 1965 level. While you may be comfortable, you aren’t nearly as well-off as you should be if your wages had increased at even half the rate that the income of the top 1/10th of 1 percent has increased — 385 percent! In fact, your wages in “equivalent” dollars across the decades has gone up ZERO percent.

So yes, we could target every major corporation in this country. But two things set Walmart apart here:

1. The Walton Family who owns Walmart are one of the wealthiest families in the world. Not just the U.S., the world.

2. A significant percentage of Walmart’s employees are on some form of taxpayer assistance to supplement their lack of income.

It’s shameful that any of them do it, including McDonald’s, etc. and we all ought to be furious that we’re being taken advantage of to this egregious extent.

Thanks again, and I hope you’ll keep coming back!

commented 2012-06-26 18:24:52 -0700 · Flag
Have you compared Walmart with Target? The salaries at the hourly level seem pretty even. Why is Target not (I’m sorry about this pun) targeted? Are they any better?
@Liberalibrarian tweeted link to this page. 2012-06-11 12:56:01 -0700
If you want to learn how to #OccupyTheNarrative for liberals, you need to learn about @winningwordspro http://t.co/LLb5iJJd #p2 #Obama2012
@LiberallyJan tweeted link to this page. 2012-06-11 12:02:09 -0700
If you want to learn how to #OccupyTheNarrative for liberals, you need to learn about @winningwordspro http://t.co/LLb5iJJd #p2 #Obama2012
@ThePatrioticLib mentioned @WinningWordsPro link to this page. 2012-06-11 12:00:15 -0700
If you want to learn how to #OccupyTheNarrative for liberals, you need to learn about @winningwordspro http://t.co/LLb5iJJd #p2 #Obama2012
@ThePatrioticLib tweeted link to this page. 2012-06-11 11:58:26 -0700
If you want to learn how to #OccupyTheNarrative for liberals, you need to learn about @winningwordspro http://t.co/LLb5iJJd #p2 #Obma2012
@WakeNyouUp retweeted @jillwklausen 2012-05-08 13:25:23 -0700
What Is The Winning Words Project And How Will It Help Us Win This Election & The Future Of Our Country? http://t.co/pP0Tucaj
@boogiefinger tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-07 02:18:39 -0700
About The Project - The Winning Words Project http://t.co/qNDpYdHx Leftists new propaganda group @breitbarttv @rushlimbaugh @gbtv #tcot #gop
@professorkck tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-06 22:05:49 -0700
Heard about @jillwklausen's fantastic @winningwordspro-ject? If not, you have now :) Read all of this: http://t.co/I17nUX3C #p2
@dvnix tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-06 22:04:20 -0700
Heard about @jillwklausen's fantastic @winningwordspro-ject? If not, you have now :) Read all of this: http://t.co/I17nUX3C #p2
@ShyBuddha tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-06 20:24:28 -0700
Heard about @jillwklausen's fantastic @winningwordspro-ject? If not, you have now :) Read all of this: http://t.co/I17nUX3C #p2
followed this page 2012-05-06 16:44:21 -0700
@Shoq mentioned @jillwklausen link to this page. 2012-05-06 16:30:47 -0700
Heard about @jillwklausen's fantastic @winningwordspro-ject? If not, you have now :) Read all of this: http://t.co/I17nUX3C #p2
commented 2012-05-05 13:28:02 -0700 · Flag
Thank you, Paul and Lorraine!
commented 2012-05-05 09:36:37 -0700 · Flag
The great work of Joe L at stopframingus.com is getting the attention it truly deserves. Without a doubt he has joined a great site and I look forward to reading all the posts!
@LeahAnakin mentioned @WinningWordsPro link to this page. 2012-05-05 07:14:15 -0700
commented 2012-05-02 06:00:18 -0700 · Flag
I applaud the mission as spelled out and will look forward to seeing how your efforts evolve. The Democrats and liberals seem to have been left tongue tied many years ago by the emotion provoking rhetoric on the right. I like the approach of applying the available information and principles to blogging. It encourages practice, practice, an essential. I do think we must be careful to not just develop effective rhetoric in defense of right wing attacks but also frame the liberal messages of joy in the fruits of civil life that elevates all of life and the many endeavors of man that are more than or instead of the accumulation of wealth.
published this page in About 2012-05-01 19:37:00 -0700