On November 19, 2011, Republican candidates Santorum, Bachmann, Paul, Gingrich, Cain and Perry appeared at a forum on moral values in Des Moines, Iowa. Among other statements made that day was one from Newt Gingrich to the Occupy movement: "Go get a job right after you take a bath."
What were the actual, but implicit messages Gingrich was conveying with those few words?
- The protestors are physically dirty. Because they have the option to take a bath, they are dirty by choice, and their plight is their own fault;
- Jobs are readily available. All the protestors need to do is "go get one"
- Unemployment is not an economic issue. The problem is a lack of personal motivation, and unemployed people are just lazy;
- Since the protestors are unclean and lazy, their ideas are pathetic. Therefore we don’t have to face even the most basic Occupy message that gross social inequities exist;
- If you regard the protestors as pathetic, that means you are not affected by the conditions they complain of;
- All Occupy protestors should be viewed in the same way;
- The Occupy protestors have no legitimate complaint;
- Contempt for anyone who questions the status quo is appropriate.
Carefully crafted phrases can be used not to encourage thinking, but to discourage it. With just a short phrase, Gingrich provided numerous reasons for people to tune out the protestors and any consideration that social and economic reforms deserve consideration.