Republicans are generally much better than Democrats at re-branding things ways that evoke a strong emotional reaction. Here are three of my favorites:

Rich people, instead of conspicuous consumers, become “job creators.” The history of trickle-down economics is clear: the gap between rich and poor has grown, not declined, over the last many decades. Trickle-down doesn’t trickle down very far or to very many.

“Estate tax” becomes the “death tax”. We used to hold as an American value that we wanted each new generation to advance based on merit and hard work, without too much of an inherited financial cushion. We’d not have aristocracies that endured for generations like the Europeans. That belief, at least on the Republican side, has gone by the boards. The elimination of the estate tax wouldn’t mean much for the average person, but it would be a windfall for the already wealthy.

“Talking about end of life issues” becomes “death panels.” A huge proportion of health care spending happens at or near the end of life, when the risk/potential gain/cost ratio gets completely out of whack. Talking about these things is hard for all of us. My late mother lived in fear that if she ever got put in a nursing home someone would pull the plug on her before she was ready. That never happened. Nor did any sensible conversation about her being a “frequent flyer” at the local hospital, and a huge consumer of procedures and medications that may or may not have done her any good but must have cost a fortune. Multiply that by an aging population, and you have health care costs that – if they continue unabated – will break the bank. And we’re not talking about that, because we don’t want death panels to have the supposed power to push anyone over the edge.


In theory, we get the candidates and the elected officials that we deserve.

Come November, we’ll see.

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