What is the Reconciliation bill, what’s in it, and can we afford it?
Once again, the Left and climate champions missed the messaging on the “$3.5T Reconciliation Bill,” and it may be DOA, primarily because of 3 mistakes.
The Right didn’t have to spend much effort to do this, just let the Left do all the torpedoing for them. This is a familiar pattern. The Left focuses on the issues and obscure details in reaction to a few questions, while the Right simply creates doubt and frames the bill as too expensive.
Here’s the lesson for every climate champion. Clear effective messaging must precede the details and the campaign. If we’re not spending as much time on the messaging as the issue details, then we are losing.
Let start with the name, the Budget Reconciliation bill. Let me hit my snooze alarm. Six syllables in the word Reconciliation. It sounds complicated and therefore boring. It’s other moniker, the Build Back Better bill is vague as well. Build what? Better sounds OK? But what is the value? Nothing close to The American Jobs Plan or the Freedom to Vote Act. Lesson; we need to make sure people can understand why our bills or campaigns are important by the names we give them.
Second, details are important, but they’re not. The Left believes in the myth that facts and reason will prevail. And before you comment that facts and reason are important, let me admit that they are. They are important. In science, in a court of law, and in finishing legislation.
But most cognitive scientists tell us that presenting facts in an argument doesn’t do much good. It’s simply not the way our brains work. Indeed, empirical proof says that our ability to reason evolved simply to justify the positions that we’ve already taken from an intuitive standpoint.
It is also clear that when someone has an entrenched position and we throw facts at them, their typical reaction is to disregard those facts and find ones that support their own position. This is called motivated reasoning, and with unlimited access to any fact on the Internet, we’re getting pretty damn good at this. Lesson: let’s stop using facts, reason and arguments to win our campaigns. Connect with others using our values as a base for stories to attract others.
Finally, we feed what we fight. We’ve been trying to prove climate change is real for forty years. It doesn’t work. All the opposition had to do was frame climate as something in doubt. They framed the discussion around it’s not real and we took the bait. Does that sound anything familiar to, “It’s too expensive.” The debate then circles around the cost and what can be cut. The more we protest, the more we underscore that it is too expensive. The media even reports the cost of the bill in every mention of it. The “$3.5T Reconciliation Bill.” No doubt this works because the opposition has established the narrative that government doesn’t work, taxes are too high, and therefore spending is bad, through repetition.
So let me be a little facetious. Why don’t we call this the “Keep Your Children Alive bill?” What would we spend for that? Would it be too expensive?
There are terrific things in this bill. We absolutely need to pass it. You can help by texting ‘BBB’ to the number 69866 or dial 888-445-5134 to be connected to your representative! Let them know where you stand. But take these lessons and make sure they know why. Tell your story.
Thanks for what you do.
‘We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
L. Hobart Stocking