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Would you like relieving from that pleasure?Vincent 1:14 pm, Mar 22nd 2011
Throughout the noughties, the Republicans whipped the Democrats’ arses, despite having a candidate who would struggle to point at his own arse with a stick. Even if one end of that stick was already attached to his arse.
One of the areas where they failed abysmally was ‘Tax Relief’. And the reason they failed was that they got into the ring in the first place. The Republicans advocated Tax Relief – the Democrats opposed it. But implicit in the idea of ‘relief’ is the idea that the thing you need relief from is bad. We have relief from pain, relief from poverty or suffering. We don’t have relief from pleasure or comfort, except on very specialist websites. So as soon as you enter the Tax Relief debate, arguing we don’t need it, you’ve lost.
Get in the ring on building more hospitals, employing more teachers, taking more families out of poverty. All of the things that make taxes a good thing. Make Republicans get in the ring over losing jobs, closing schools, increasing the child mortality rate. In other words, move the frame. It’s what George Lakoff helped the Democrats to do. It’s something he writes and talks about in a really engaging way. And it’s one of the reasons we have a Democrat in the White House.
We have a similar challenge right now. The press is cranking up the coverage of ‘auto enrolment’. When 2012 isn’t about the Olympics or the excellent new sitcom on BBC4, it’s about ‘auto enrolment’. They’re setting the agenda and it’s not the right one. If we try and enter the debate, promoting the legislation, by discussing auto-enrolment, we’re lost. Who wants to be ‘enrolled’ into anything? It’s a word that’s right up there with ‘conscription’. And ‘auto’? Well it means ‘without humanity’ ‘controlled by the system’. It reminds us of East Berlin in the fifties and serious science fiction where technology takes over the world and enslaves the monkey’s children.
Let’s set the agenda that tells the story we want to tell. Let’s talk about ‘inclusion’, about ‘prosperity’, about ‘extra money from your employer and the tax man’. Let’s make people proud to have a pot of money that belongs to them, and which will be there when they need it. Let’s talk about taking control of your future rather than about losing control of the present.