When Words Matter, Republicans Call in their Guru

You might think that if every adult has one vote and the opportunity to exercise it, you are living in a democracy, that it results in “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Not if Frank Luntz can help it.

Words are the most effective ammunition in the war of ideas, and in American politics, Luntz (photo above) is emerging as the most effective manipulator of words.

Luntz is the Republican Party’s language guru.

Author of a book called Words that Work: It’s not what you say, it’s what you hear, Luntz tells the members of the Republican Party how to frame their words so that they have the greatest impact. It’s the way companies sell toothpaste, cars, Viagra, beauty products and so on.

He uses focus groups and interviews to test the impact of words and phrases. His goal: to study the emotional reaction of his audiences. “Eighty percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect,” he explains. “I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think.”

In the wake of the Tucson tragedy, Luntz is preparing a new lexicon for Republicans. He did it for the global warming debate. He did it for the health care reform debate. He did it for the Wall Street regulation debate. And it worked.

It will probably work again.

Meanwhile, the think tanks and academics funded by massive right-wing contributions (part of a crusade originally launched to counteract Vietnam-era protests) are cranking out a barrage of “facts” and “ideas” to defend America’s elite and promote their interests.

With resources such as these, Republicans are set to take over the government without having to win the war of ideas. All they have to do is win the war of words.

And that means America’s government would not act “for the people” but for those who are  able to buy the words that manipulate voters’ emotions.