It’s important for every Civil Citizen to know about talking points. Talking points are specific points that a politician, political party or special interest group wants you to know. Like an advertisement there are varying levels of truth to these statements. We have seen some masters of the talking point, I must say many from the Republican Party.
Names like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich to name a few. Eric Cantor and John Boehner as well are pretty good at it but not quite the top tier level. They live and die by the talking point so much that some people find themselves shaking their heads when listening to them do verbal acrobatics trying to incorporate talking points in their answer to any question.
Here’s an example.
Q: What is your favorite flavor of pie?
A: When I think of pie I think of bakers. Bakers have jobs. My favorite flavor is good old American apple pie and just about any flavor of pie that puts Americans back to work. One pie I don’t like is the pie chart that says the unemployment rate is at 9.4% I think the President is eating humble pie with an employment figure like that.
This one is actually on point somewhat. Sometimes the talking points are so bizarre I find myself with my head cocked to the side in that “Huh?” look. But that is what the mouthpieces do, they are pitch men, they live and die by the talking point.
The talking point can be more spin that fact. It is more about what the person talking wants you to believe than it is about the facts of the situation. This point has become increasingly relevant in the past five years. Politicians have taken this technique to the next level by claiming outlandish allegations repeatedly, hoping they will stick in the minds of the public. I call this technique the cooked spaghetti technique. The campaign public relations machine throws many outlandish claims into the media mainstream to see what sticks to the proverbial wall.
Talking points are effective tools. It is important for a consumer of information to identify talking points and to challenge them. It’s important for a Civil Citizen to look to several different information sources to be sure information is fact based before analyzing it. There are certain sources that require more discernment off the bat. Some of them were mentioned earlier, others like Anderson Cooper 360 comes to mind,is consistently considered to be an accurate source of information.
If you have been asked to speak to the media or someone of influence, make sure your talking points are prepared ahead of time. Offer a written copy of them on a sheet of paper with your contact information included to the person to whom you are speaking. Prepare no more than 5 bullet points at one time (think about making them Tweet length, about 140 characters each)about your topic. Statistics and persuasive comments that capture the listener’s attention. Describe potential impacts to the listener’s wallet, family, or Freedom has the best success because it has the greatest impact.
When talking points attack is when blatant falsehoods are used as talking points. They are divisive and toxic. Ethically this technique should come to an end though there is no end in sight because the explosive talking point is such an effective tool in the political arsenal. Consider yourself warned.