What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Frank Luntz Compares GOP's 2010 "Pledge" to 1994 "Contract"

September 26, 2010, 5:11 PM
Pledge

In 1994, as part of their successful gambit to gain control of the House, Newt Gingrich and other GOP leaders issued the "Contract with America," a promise to pass eight reform and transparency measures on the first day Republicans took control and then in the first 100 days introduce ten bills to cut government programs, decrease crime, and boost national security. Just 860 words in length, pollster Frank Luntz was the man responsible for the document's "messaging," figuring out the words and the frames that sold the promise to voters. In a pre-Web era, the document was introduced to targeted voters by way of a tear away insert at TV Guide.

In an op-ed at the Washington Post today, Luntz evaluates the GOP's 2010 Pledge to America against the 1994 Contract.  Among critiques, Luntz says that he would have called the 584 word document a "commitment" rather than a "pledge."

First, their names: "A Pledge to America" vs. the "Contract With America." I have to give the edge to the 1994 version, though I have an even better word. Nobody trusts political promises or politicians' pledges, but a "commitment" suggests seriousness and a willingness to put your reputation on the line. I conducted polls on this wording this year, and an overwhelming 81 percent of Americans preferred a "commitment," while just 10 percent chose a "promise" and only 9 percent a "pledge."

The American people in 2010, above all else, want politicians to demonstrate that Washington works for America, not the other way around. The full-page, double-sided, tear-out ad for the Contract With America that ran in TV Guide in October 1994 did just that, featuring two simple but powerful sentences: "A campaign promise is one thing. A signed contract is quite another." The authors of the 2010 document could have done better than "pledge."

Another critique by Luntz is that the pledge offers no specific course of action, something Luntz calls a "glaring omission."  He also thinks that the Pledge is more strongly partisan and anti-government than the Contract, though lauds the Pledge for capturing the feeling of independents when asserting that the country is currently controlled by "an arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites."

In his weekly address, titled "A Crossroads on the Economy," President Obama had a very different take on the Pledge: ""It is grounded in the same worn out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself. That is not a prescription for a better future. It is an echo of a disastrous decade we cannot afford to relive."

You can watch Obama and the White House's response below:

 

 

 

Frank Luntz Compares GOP's ...

Newsletter: Share: