George Lakoff has a good piece out on how to talk about health care reform. In The PolicySpeak Disaster for Health Care, Lakoff writes,
How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so badly on health care?
The problem, according to Lakoff, is that they are discussing policy, with lists, instead of telling the bigger story,
PolicySpeak is the principle that: If you just tell people the policy facts, they will reason to the right conclusion and support the policy wholeheartedly.
. . . To many liberals, PolicySpeak sounds like the high road: a rational, public discussion in the best tradition of liberal democracy. Convince the populace rationally on the objective policy merits. Give the facts and figures. Assume self-interest as the motivator of rational choice. Convince people by the logic of the policymakers that the policy is in their interest.
He says tell the story:
Insurance companies are inefficient and wasteful. A large chunk of your health care dollar is not going for health care when you buy from insurance companies.
Insurance companies govern your lives. They have more power over you than even governments have. They make life and death decisions. And they are accountable only to profit, not to citizens.
The health care failure is an insurance company failure. Why keep a failing system? Augment it. Give an alternative.
So go out and tell the story. In marketing we say not to just list the features, instead talk about the benefits that those features bring to the customer.
Anyone with eyes can see that what we are witnessing is anything but a rational argument. The lies are obvious, illogical, and even silly but they still manage to stir up fear and anger in what amounts to being a relatively small number of our fellow citizens. That’s because they have been propagandized and we’ve stood by, taking little notice while it went on. What we’re seeing is, in part at least, the fruit of our not paying attention to what was happening on the other side. We’ve allowed the propagandists to leave the impression that our government is being imposed on us from outer space rather than being our of own creation! The people who listened to that are suspicious of government. Go figure! The notion that our government is inefficient, ineffective, and downright dangerous deserved a counter argument but there was none!
I’ve always thought that if you preach to the choir then someone would overhear you and learn from that. But perhaps not. It may not be possible to have a rational argument with these citizens now, but does that mean we should engage them in an irrational manner? However we do it, we have to find a way to engage them. No American citizen should be allowed to live in fear!