Frank Luntz: Why One of the Most Unlikely People Has the Best Advice About Fighting Climate Change
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In January of this year, American political consultant Dr. Frank Luntz released a 17-page talking points memo titled “The Language of Financial Reform,” in which he urges opponents of bank reform to reframe the effort as a mishmash of bailouts, loopholes and bureaucracy. In short order, Luntz-listening legislators lined up to shout “BLACK” at the kettle, before returning to their work crafting endless loopholes to bail out campaign contributors in their home states. I read the memo upon its release and promptly tossed it in my compost bin (I’m always short on browns).
Flash forward to last Tuesday evening. After viewing “Alice in Wonderland,” I stopped at a pub to wash from my mouth the saccharine taste of Disney. After a fewmany cans of Olympia, I walked home.
And here’s where my tale gets strange, almost unbelievable ...
Crossing my yard, I stepped squarely on … my copy of Luntz’ memo. You can imagine my confusion. A weeks old copy of Luntz’ memo had somehow returned to me from the depths of my compost bin. Had a raccoon, desperate for light reading, fished it out and only now returned it?
I took it as a sign, or perhaps the manipulations of the ghost of Grover Cleveland. I set about re-reading the material. This time, aided by my 3D beer goggles, I was able to read the true meaning of Luntz’ words. Like Roddy Piper in “They Live” or Nicolas Cage in “National Treasure” I had stumbled upon not so much a conspiracy but a secret hidden in plain sight. “The Language of Financial Reform” has nothing to do with finances, which is why, in that context, it sounds like so much gibberish. But, with a little reframing of the reframing framework, the message becomes all too clear:
Frank Luntz wants Americans to fight for aggressive climate change legislation.
What follows is my point-by-point (18 in all) translation of Luntz’ primary talking points. Words in bold are direct from Luntz and are followed by my explanatory text. In case you’ve a case of Oly stashed and want to skip my translation and see for yourself, Luntz’ original memo can be downloaded here.
To kick things off, Luntz launches into his pro-environment manifesto with these powerful, powerful words ...
When addressing the crisis, never forget its impact on your audience. Above all else, never EVER minimize the pain.
The converging economic, environmental and energy crises are going to bring real and measurable pain to everyone. This pain will affect young, old, rich and poor alike. We mustn’t pretend that there will be no pain or sacrifices as we transition to a world unlike the one we’ve left behind. To promote the idea of an impending ‘return to normal’ is irresponsible on the individual level, reprehensible at the government level.
Point 1: Americans are divided on the cause of the crisis. The consequence of the crisis may be undeniable, but its cause is debatable.
Whether the cause of the climate change that is being felt right now in every nation, body of water and mountain peak is anthropogenic, anthroposophic or the result of too many lighting bolts being cast down by an increasingly disenchanted Zeus, now is not the time to get mired in the blame game. Rather, as the consequences are undeniable (starvation, warfare, disease – pick a level of hell and insert it here), Americans need to unite around the unassailable facts and work to immediately build resilience at the local and national levels.
Point 2: You must acknowledge the need for reform that ensures this NEVER happens again. The status quo is not an option.