The Catchphrases of the West: Are They Still Effective?
For decades, American, EU, and NATO political leaders and diplomats have relied on certain words and catchphrases in our speeches and public messages to describe what we stand for. For example:
- democracy, democratic values, shared values
- human rights
- the rule of law
- the Transatlantic relationship
At one time, there was a general consensus on the meaning of these phrases. They represented specific, positive ideas with wide appeal, in part because the concepts stood in contrast to their geopolitical opposite: the restrictive, repressive, and corrupt communist systems of the Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe. Thirty years later, we still use the same language to describe what we support and what we are trying to protect. The concepts behind these words are more important than ever. But do these words still hold power to motivate audiences after 30+ years of real life experience? And in a polarized information environment? Do they have the same meaning for a new generation that has always enjoyed these things? Does Russia’s war against Ukraine bring new life to this language? If these words have lost their meaning or power—how can we talk about the concepts they represent in a way that resonates with the public?