Words have power, which is why so many arguments eventually come down to epistemology. Words are the terrain of the intellectual battlefield, and in order to win you have to control the connotations that underlie your verbal weaponry. A perfect example is the purposeful propaganda (see?) behind the recent set of MOVEON.ORG Supreme Court parties.
In a desperate bid to sanitize his house party and control how its attendees would be perceived by the POST, the MOVEON host emailed talking points to his guests. A copy of those talking points was obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.
Fazio warned his guests: “Its very important that if you talk to the reporter, you stay on message. Remember, it is quite possible that our event will be the one the POST uses to represent the entire MoveOnPac effort this weekend.”
The key message for the event: “The momentum is finally shifting away from extremism. We will not accept a extremist nominee. This is not about conservatism vs liberalism or Republicans vs Democrats, this is all about extremism vs moderation and we're on the side of moderation.”
The MOVEON host reminded his guests: “We don't want to come across as leftist, liberal activists. We want to come across as we are- regular folks who are finally saying enough is enough to the extremists; that we're not falling for their extremist rhetoric anymore and we're finally going to expend the effort necessary to get our country back.”
By accusing your opponents of being what you actually are you can mitigate the effectiveness of their attacks. You think I'm extreme? But I already called you extreme! Of course there's nothing objectively wrong with being "extreme" -- the mainstream could be wrong! -- but the word carries negative connotations so it's clearly best to avoid the label. Everyone wants to believe that they're in the majority, that everyone agrees with them; the number of people who agree with you often has nothing to do with the correctness of your position, but it's sure a strong and primitive psychological motivator.
One of the biggest difficulties the left in America is facing is that they aren't in the mainstream, no matter how often and loudly they claim to be. Rather than change their positions to suit voters, they blow smoke and mangle words to redefine themselves, hoping to trick everyone. I think they'd do better if they simply articulated their non-mainstream positions and explained why people should change their minds.