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A Winning Slogan for a Winning Agenda

Repeal, and then real reform.

12:00 AM, Apr 14, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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“Repeal and replace”:  This slogan isn’t bad, but the reason that it's apparently causing confusion may well be that it’s redundant.  “Replace” implies “repeal.”  You can’t replace something while simultaneously leaving it there. (“Replace” by itself would be a clearer, but comically uninspiring, slogan.)  The slogan’s redundancy may in turn lead some, like CBS News and The Hill, to conclude that “replace” must refer not to replacing Obamacare as a whole, but rather to replacing various provisions — while much of Obamacare would remain intact.  It seems that reporters are hearing this slogan as implying an either-or message, and hence a lack of resolve, rather than a true commitment to repeal.

“Repeal”:  This slogan has the virtue of being clear, which is important enough to elevate it over the other two.  It doesn’t immediately suggest that Republicans have alternatives in mind to implement once Obamacare is scrapped, but it conveys the most crucial message and does so firmly and directly.  And Republican candidates can always talk about how they would reform the health care system once Obamacare is gone, complementing the slogan with their own further thoughts, expressed at greater length.  This slogan is a winner.

“Repeal, and then real reform”:  This slogan is the most effective of all.  It's clear.  It’s firm in its push for repeal.  The sequence is plain.  It immediately rebuts (however pithily) the initial criticism of “Repeal” alone — that the GOP has no intention of offering alternatives.  And, importantly, it reminds people that Obamacare isn’t health care reform in any genuine sense of that term, but rather it is a massive and ill conceived health care overhaul that would preclude real reform.  

True, this slogan is a bit wordier.  But it’s all of five words, and short ones at that.  Americans can handle it.  And Republicans don’t need to get too cute in trying to pair two words together in a parallel structure at the expense of clarity.  Furthermore, this slogan can be used interchangeably with the shorter “Repeal,” with each one being used as appropriate.

More than anything, the Republicans’ slogan for this epic fight needs to be clear and to convey resolve.  “Repeal, and then real reform” — paired with the shorthand "Repeal" — hits the mark.

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