Declaration in Dependence

Jon Sanders
|
Posted: Feb 15, 2008 12:01 AM
Declaration in Dependence

The rumor is, an overworked Democrat consultant was e-mailed the Declaration of Independence under the subject line "Don't forget this was written by a top Democrat!" Too tired to recognize it, too recent a graduate of public education, and too busy going through the motions in the primary that wouldn't end, the consultant diligently set to work.

Granted, this is a mighty strange occurrence, but it has been a weird winter. It's no stranger that the Republicans and the Fed suddenly returning to old Keynesian notions of economic stimulus.

Whatever the case may be, apparently our consultant produced the following revisions:

Hey. I received your speech draft. What is your target audience, a church? At this stage, you need to aim your language to regular voters. This flowery rhetorical stuff is too overblown. It'll be over everyone's heads.

I'm going to go over this with you, adding my comments and suggestions. Let's get started:

1. When in the Course of human events

Comment: See what I mean about overblown?

Suggestion: Look, sometimes

2. it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another

Comment: Snore. Needs to be fresher. Work in the focus-group buzzwords.

Suggestion: people gotta have change, be the agents of change, and vote for someone who is gonna bring change and hope

3. and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them,

Comment: Is this for the Christian Right? Way too theocratic. But I like that stuff about the earth and nature.

Suggestion: not just to us, but also to our planet, because we can't think we are above Nature.

4. a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Comment: Wordy, wordy, wordy.

Suggestion: Now is the time for us to work together for hope, for change, and for the future.

5. We hold these truths to be self-evident,

Comment: "Truths" is too strident. Soften this whole passage. You might want to start working in some talking points.

Suggestion: We feel that these things are important values that educated people all agree on, which is why we think college should be for everybody.

6. that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

Comment: Created by a Creator? Did Pat Robertson write this? And surely you don't mean that the Creator is what gives rights. Also, you shouldn't say "unalienable"; it sounds too close to "illegal aliens."

Suggestion: We feel that everyone, after being born, is entitled to some basic human rights

7. that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,

Comment: Too esoteric. Blah, blah, blah. You need to get real. This is the time to be specific.

Suggestion: such as healthcare, a living wage, honest pro sports, and a healthy planet.

8. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Comment: This isn't political science, this is politics. 

Suggestion: And we know we cannot provide these things on our own. It takes a village. It takes each of us contributing together to build our national village.

9. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Comment: Wow. Just ... wow.

Suggestion: But to do that, we need to look forward with hope and bring about change.

10. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;

Comment: Delete.

11. and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Comment: That made my head hurt. Why not just talk about boiling the frog again? That's the basic idea, right?

Suggestion: Because we know that if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will jump out. But if you put him in cool water, and slowly heat it, you can boil him.

12. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Comment: Huh?

Suggestion: And right now, we are all frogs sitting in boiling water. And we need to jump out with hope and dreams and reach for the change we need. This is for the future. This is for the children. This is for the planet itself.

I'm not reading any further. What you have written is way too long, too speechy, and too fundy-christiany.

In glancing over the rest, it seems you've listed several dozen policy disputes. That's the wrong approach. Don't forget all the single-issue voters out there. You don't want to scare off a possible supporter based on one political difference. The more policy positions you take, the greater this risk.

Remember the KISS principle: Keep it simple, stupid. Don't do anything to stop the voter from feeling that your candidate agrees with him. Elections aren't about policies, they're about feeling safe and happy.

Oh, and don't forget to end with "Sí, se puede! Yes, we can!" The focus groups are eating that up right now.