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Dr. Genevieve Guenther @DoctorVive
, 29 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
About the messaging on I-1631: it was, indeed, a shit show.

And it needs to be addressed all the more because oil and gas does have so much money (*so* much money!) to pour into ads.

So here's my reading...

Oil and gas messaging centered on the word "cost," which was repeated multiple times across their advertising and public communication.

Here it is in the text of a Facebook ad.

Note that they represent the "cost" as being borne by "consumers" and "small businesses." They hide the idea that a carbon fee might take a bite out of the fossil-fuel industry itself.

Their campaign was so tight, they repeated their messaging even as they declared victory.

Note that their spokeswoman adds the super-powerful word "families" not once but twice to the basic content.

Now look what happens when @NadineKXLY does an explainer of the Initiative in a @kxly4news "60 Second Breakdown" (a segment that seems to be a regular feature on this channel).

Keep in mind that KYLY is an @ABC, not Fox News affiliate.

Woodward opens the segment by saying:

"We all want clean air and water, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?"

(I bet you can already tell where this is going.)

After describing 1631, Woodward spends merely 9 seconds conveying the 1631 campaign message: "Supporters say that fees will pay for projects that promote clean air, clean water, and could lead to 40K clean-energy jobs."

She then asks: "But what will it cost YOU"?

And then she replies: "MORE at the pump. We're talking an extra 14 cents per gallon of gas taxes every time you fill up. And that's why opponents don't like it. They say our gas tax...would quadruple within 15 years, and that's unfair to families and small businesses."

Note her repetition of the word "unfair," that painful, anger-producing word embedded in all the Oil and Gas messaging.

As a voiceover in front of this graphic highlighting "cost," Woodward goes on to say, reinforcing unfairness: "It would also increase the cost to heat your home, and there are no exemptions for low-income residents who would be hit the hardest."

She concludes, helpfully: "You get to decide what price you're willing to pay, November 6th."

OK, so that's pretty terrible, right?

It seems like Woodward is shilling for the oil and gas industry, devoting 30 seconds to their messaging and only 9 to the supporters' campaign.

And it seems like she must have distorted the 1631 campaign's message by talking about paying for "clean air and clean water," right? Because what we're doing here is attempting to address an existential threat, not just keeping nature pristine, right?


It turns out that, shill as she may be, she reiterated *precisely* the message circulated by proponents of 1631: that the initiative was meant to buy clean air and water and promote children's health. That's it.

So, for example, here is @JayInslee making a speech about 1631, in which he says "the health of our children is at risk" and that the State of Washington should "give them what they deserve, which is clean air."

(Note that all the children in this photo look perfectly healthy, which actually contradicts the message that they're at risk and creates cognitive dissonance and ambivalence rather than agreement.

The eyes and ears have to work together -- that's just basic poetics.)

@JayInslee goes on to talk about climate change only euphemistically, invoking it only in the "smoke from hundreds of forest fires."

And he warns that "unless we act, [the children] will continue to be covered by this pall of smoke on their futures."

But this message ("the children will continue to be covered") implicitly describes unmitigated climate change as continuing the smoky present, leading listeners to assess the fee's merits on the basis of how well they have tolerated the climate they already know.

Pretty well, I guess, considering the outcome of the vote.

Anyhow, back to Inslee, who then complains that kids "can't go outside to go swimming ... pools are closed."

He says 1631 will lead to "less forest fires."

He talks about asthma.

Ok, computer.

I think I know why he gave this kind of speech: he's been told that messages about climate change should focus on children and on local concerns. (Hell, I've given that advice.)

He's probably also been told not to bring up climate change explicitly, since it's "divisive."

And I'm *sure* he's been told not to bring up 💰, which is why he never counters the opposition's messaging about unfair "costs."

But forensic rhetoric since Cicero teaches us that you *must* raise & disarm your opponent's objections or else you'll never win your case.

(I've made a similar point before.)

So perhaps we could all wonder, just for one moment, whether the failure of 1631 might indicate that the era of focus-grouped, downplaying, fundamentally insincere messaging about climate change should end.

Perhaps we, even as we lament the structural inequities produced the vast wealth of the fossil fuel industry, should also think about *telling the truth about climate change and why we need to address it NOW*.

Perhaps climate-hawk politicians should admit that some of the policies that need to be enacted might cost some money, while *contextualizing* those costs and explaining why they're worth it.

Or, better, perhaps @TheDemocrats could come up with a plan to ease those costs for families. *cough* Green New Deal *cough*

At any rate, no matter what we may feel about carbon fees, we must admit that climate messaging MUST now transcend the fear/hope dichotomy (it's both/and) as well as the mealymouthed bipartisanship that really needs to go the way of hoop skirts & the phrase "golly gee."

This is life or death, people. Let's start saying it.

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