Choosing sound bites: hate vs. hope

More politicians are mobilizing supporters and raising buckets of dollars through “money blurts” – intentionally-timed, incendiary comments about opponents that stoke social media and rake in cash. But we live at a time when we need to mobilize people to address our growing concerns, not divide them. Below are two sets of sound bites, one rooted in hate, the other in hope. The hopeful ones you can bank on as antidotes to growing negativity in public life. The article in yesterday’s Washington Post, "Michele Bachmann, others raise millions for political campaigns with ‘money blurts’," by Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam, showed how politicians are doing the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, knowing full well what they’re saying is wrong and will have negative repercussions, but they do it anyway. In public life, such comments undermine trust, make the public square toxic, and push people further away from one another.

The Post offered examples of “money blurts” used by Democrats and Republicans alike. You may remember the one in which Representative Joe Wilson blurted out in the middle of President Obama’s State of the Union message, “You lie!”

Below you’ll find two columns: on the left are negative (even hate-filled) blurts noted in the Post article; on the right, alternate ones I have found engender authentic hope in people. These latter ones are time-tested, positive “blurts” you can start using today. Notice how the hateful ones work to divide people, while the hopeful ones actively engage people.


 Hate  Hope
  •  “You lie!”
  • How can we get things moving in the right direction?
  • You have “anti-American views”
  • Why do you say that?
  • You are “turning our country into a nation of slaves”
  • What will it take for me to earn your trust?
  • About health care reform: “Don’t get sick, and if you get sick, die soon”
  • What in your daily life gives you hope?

If you agree, then use those blurts that engender authentic hope. What’s more, offer here your own examples of when you’ve heard sound bites rooted in hope or hate. And let me know how things go.

Let’s get things moving in a better direction.