Slogans for the Next Four Years

It’s too late for the election campaign, but here are some campaign themes Team Obama should have been using. And now they might serve as rallying cries for the President’s second-term programs.

The source of these insights is Drew Westen, a psychology professor at Emory University and author of the book, The Political Brain.

As part of his research in the deep south, he tested several slogans calling for austerity — like Paul Ryan’s push to slash education, health, and social programs. Those were well received. Then he tried this one:

“The only way to cut the deficit is to put Americans back to work.”

That message beat even the toughest austerity message by a whopping 30 percent – right in the middle of right wing, fundamentalist, Tea Party country. The second Obama administration could use something like this theme to push Congress into job-creation legislation such as infrastructure projects, retraining programs, and tax incentives for companies who create jobs in the U.S. rather than exporting them.

The second message has to do with tax policy, and it won by big margins in every region and with every demographic, including Tea Partyers:

“In tough times like these, millionaires ought to be giving to charity, not getting it.”

Obama’s accomplishments have been impressive. But efforts to educate the American public and build public support for these programs have been feeble, as even the President admits.

Team Obama should take a cue from Prof. Westen.

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Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.