Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Voting Behavior

How can language affect public perceptions of political rhetoric?

In Frank Luntz’s view, a single word can frame an issue, creating either a positive or negative association in a voter’s mind. In a 2005 memo to Republican party members that was widely disseminated in the media, Luntz listed 14 phrases that should never be said. Included below are seven examples from his list. In support of the power of language, Luntz stated that two-thirds of Americans wanted to “personalize” Social Security, while only one-third wanted to “privatize” it. Lutz’s 2005 memo on political rhetoric states:

Never Say Instead Say
Tax Reform Tax Simplification
Globalization Free Market Economy
Foreign Trade International Trade
Drilling for Oil Exploring for Energy
Never Say Instead Say
Government Washington
Undocumented Workers Illegal Aliens
Estate Tax Death Tax

To Promote a Negative Impression

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