unemployment I‘ve been commenting on others’ contributions to Rayne ‘s and Kriselda’ s Liberty 2004 Meme Project, and recommending that we use The Tipping Point as a process for getting traction for the memes we decide on. I thought it was time to offer up some ideas of my own. Let me start with my biases and blind spots. I don’t understand why so many Americans continue to support Bush. In any other developed country, someone with his approach, extremist policies and record of failures would be soundly trounced if he ran for re-election. I also don’t understand the lack of passion around electoral reform. After the debacle of 2000, when the Supreme Court ended up appointing a president because the electoral system was incapable of doing so, after seeing the abuses that partisan appointed electoral commissions can perpetrate, after seeing large corporations use huge campaign donations to buy both major parties, after seeing the abomination of ‘redistricting’ ridiculed as profoundly anti-democratic at home and around the world, why isn’t serious electoral reform a priority in every American’s mind? How can the country that prides itself as the epitome of democracy tolerate a thoroughly dysfunctional electoral system?

Having said what I don’t understand, what I do understand is that in every country in the world, what’s happening locally trumps what’s happening nationally and internationally. People care more about the domestic economy than the global one, more about domestic security than international security, more about local water quality than global warming.

So here are the five principles that I believe should govern the selection of the Liberty 2004 Memes, and the process by which the memes should be used:

  1. Triage: The  target audience should be undecided, independent, moderate, occasional and ‘swing’ voters. No point coming up with a campaign that appeals only to those that are going to vote for us, or against us, anyway.
  2. KISS: The memes should be simple, memorable and compelling, and address the issues most important to the target audience. Not cute, not too-clever-by-half, not strident, not abstract, not demanding. Remarkable would be nice, but is not absolutely necessary.
  3. Positive and Negative:  We probably need two memes, because some people vote for and other people vote against, and we need to appeal to both.
  4. No personal attacks: As vital as it is that the positive message resonate personally, it is equally important that the negative message not be personal. The negative message needs to be about the impact of the Bush policies and the Bush administration’s performance , not ad hominem criticisms of the administration. Even using barbed language like the Bush regime, as tempting and satisfying as it may be, will backfire with many moderates.
  5. Catchphrase + Stories: The memes must be a combination of a catchphrase and supporting stories . The stories reinforce the catchphrase and give it life, depth, power. The story of the rescue of the captured American woman soldier in Iraq is an example of the type of powerful story the Republicans have learned to use. We need stories that are even better, and ideally more truthful.

At this stage, and with the caveats above, here are my two recommended memes:

  1. Put America Back to Work. This is the positive message, that reflects the massive unemployment, threat of unemployment and under-employment that is the legacy of Bush’s economic mismanagement and collusion with multi-national corporations that have no allegience to the American people. The stories supporting it should be about real Americans, including small American businesspeople, who are struggling to make ends meet as a tiny number of individuals and corporations reap obscene profits and destroy and export jobs in the interest of increasing profits even further. It’s not a new or clever message, but it meets every one of the criteria above. Salon bloggers have already provided at least a half-dozen perfect stories.
  2. Government For the People: This is the negative message, that reflects the concerns of many Americans that the current administration is unduly interfering with the rights and day-to-day lives of Americans. The stories supporting it should be stories of government terrorizing ‘ordinary’ Americans just going about their business: The NY restaurant diners who were assaulted and had guns waved in their faces during the bungled FBI raid. American citizens who have ‘disappeared’. Personal stories of Homeland Security excesses. The implication is that the security forces that the current administration has established and inflicted on Americans are incompetent and out of control. Personal stories that show the damage of right-wing Republican social legislation are also fair game, provided the focus is on the personal impact of the legislation, not on the legislation itself.

I’ll post this to the Liberty 2004 Meme site, and I look forward to your reactions to my ‘outsider’s view’.

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1 Response to LIBERTY 2004 MEME PROJECT

  1. Pretty damn good for an outsider. Maybe those of us here in Baja Canada could benefit from a more objective point of view.

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