Menus Subscribe Search
campaign-slogans

(ILLUSTRATION: LHF GRAPHICS/SHUTTERSTOCK)

I Am Luscious, and Other Campaign Slogans

• July 10, 2013 • 8:00 AM

(ILLUSTRATION: LHF GRAPHICS/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Politicians are all about self-promotion and self-awareness. With a little help from the naming conventions of a vegan menu, could these attributes be used to better inform voters?

I have a new idea to increase civic engagement, and it is all about vegan food.

Some background for the non-hipsters out there. So all three of you, listen up. There is a vegan restaurant with locations, unsurprisingly, in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley, the birthing centers of true hipster culture. The fun (or perhaps failure, depending on your perspective) of this chain is how they name their dishes: Each is a personal, positive, declarative statement. Instead of rice with lentils, you’ll order the “I Am Humble.” Feel like hummus and pesto? You’ll dine on the “I Am Abundant.”

If you’re a rain-on-your-parade curmudgeon like me, you’ll do your best to avoid ordering the dishes by their given names. Instead of confidently telling my server, “I Am Terrific,” I prefer to spend three minutes describing the dish, which is, as the name fails to indicate, made of kelp noodles. One of my very favorite dining companions suggested that I should “pick my battles,” but the opportunity to avoid announcing, “I Am Liberated” (another kelp noodle dish) is well worth the time I spend boorishly pointing at the menu.

Instead of politicians beating around the bush, maybe they should directly and confidently own their self-promotion and be specific.

As I glanced around the restaurant on one of my recent visits (and yes, despite my aversion to the names of the dishes, I frequent this establishment), I noticed that notwithstanding my Debbie Downer demeanor, the rest of the patrons really did look humble, filled with abundance, terrific, and liberated. This got me thinking: Could this naming technique be an effective tool on political campaigns?

As hipsters and non-hipsters alike know, civic engagement in the United States is low. Few of us—vegans, carnivores, or omnivores—feel particularly invested in our political candidates or elected officials. As a result, far too few of us show up to the polls or mail in ballots. Many of our elected officials, those charged with representing all of their constituents, are elected by a small percentage of those constituents. A representative democracy functions best when our elected officials actually represent us, not just a small portion of us.

So how can we get more people excited about political issues and campaigns? Many political campaigns feel like one long infomercial; politicians tell us why they are “open-hearted,” “gentle,” “warm,” or “fantastic,” just to pick a few dishes from the breakfast options.

Perhaps we should take a cue from the vegan establishment. Instead of politicians beating around the bush, maybe they should directly and confidently own their self-promotion and be specific.

In place of mind-numbing political theme periods (“This week is education week” or “July is jobs month”), we could insist candidates give us three reasons why they do, or do not, satisfy a set of dishes. Let’s make Mondays during a campaign cycle “Magical Mondays” (named after a veggie burger, of course) and require those seeking our votes to tell us, specifically, what is really magical about them. Expect “Transformed Tuesdays” (a taco dish). Politicians should give us three concrete ways in which they will transform the jurisdiction they seek to represent. Skipping to the end of the week, Fridays will be “Fantastic Fridays” (a cashew crepe). Candidates will give us three reasons why their administration will be fantastic.

If these candidates fail to conjure up any magic, explain a transformation, or convince us that at least some things can be fantastic, well, it is time for them to clear the table.

You get the idea. So until this proposal catches on nationwide, as it no doubt will, I wish you Peace (a sesame bagel).

Jessica A. Levinson
Jessica A. Levinson is an associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles, where she teaches the Campaign Finance Seminar and Money, Politics & the Supreme Court. She blogs at PoLawTics.lls.edu and tweets at @LevinsonJessica.

More From Jessica A. Levinson

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

August 29 • 4:00 PM

The Hidden Costs of Tobacco Debt

Even when taxpayers aren’t explicitly on the hook, tobacco bonds can cost states and local governments money. Here’s how.


August 29 • 2:00 PM

Why Don’t Men and Women Wear the Same Gender-Neutral Bathing Suits?

They used to in the 1920s.


August 29 • 11:48 AM

Your Brain Decides Whether to Trust Someone in Milliseconds

We can determine trustworthiness even when we’re only subliminally aware of the other person.


August 29 • 10:00 AM

True Darwinism Is All About Chance

Though the rich sometimes forget, Darwin knew that nature frequently rolls the dice.


August 29 • 8:00 AM

Why Our Molecular Make-Up Can’t Explain Who We Are

Our genes only tell a portion of the story.


August 29 • 6:00 AM

Strange Situations: Attachment Theory and Sexual Assault on College Campuses

When college women leave home, does attachment behavior make them more vulnerable to campus rape?


August 29 • 4:00 AM

Forgive Your Philandering Partner—and Pay the Price

New research finds people who forgive an unfaithful romantic partner are considered weaker and less competent than those who ended the relationship.


August 28 • 4:00 PM

Some Natural-Looking Zoo Exhibits May Be Even Worse Than the Old Concrete Ones

They’re often designed for you, the paying visitor, and not the animals who have to inhabit them.


August 28 • 2:00 PM

What I Learned From Debating Science With Trolls

“Don’t feed the trolls” is sound advice, but occasionally ignoring it can lead to rewards.


August 28 • 12:00 PM

The Ice Bucket Challenge’s Meme Money

The ALS Association has raised nearly $100 million over the past month, 50 times what it raised in the same period last year. How will that money be spent, and how can non-profit executives make a windfall last?


August 28 • 11:56 AM

Outlawing Water Conflict: California Legislators Confront Risky Groundwater Loophole

California, where ambitious agriculture sucks up 80 percent of the state’s developed water, is no stranger to water wrangles. Now one of the worst droughts in state history is pushing legislators to reckon with its unwieldy water laws, especially one major oversight: California has been the only Western state without groundwater regulation—but now that looks set to change.


August 28 • 11:38 AM

Young, Undocumented, and Invisible

While young migrant workers struggle under poor working conditions, U.S. policy has done little to help.


August 28 • 10:00 AM

The Five Words You Never Want to Hear From Your Doctor

“Sometimes people just get pains.”


August 28 • 8:00 AM

Why I’m Not Sharing My Coke

Andy Warhol, algorithms, and a bunch of popular names printed on soda cans.


August 28 • 6:00 AM

Can Outdoor Art Revitalize Outdoor Advertising?

That art you’ve been seeing at bus stations and billboards—it’s serving a purpose beyond just promoting local museums.


August 28 • 4:00 AM

Linguistic Analysis Reveals Research Fraud

An examination of papers by the discredited Diederik Stapel finds linguistic differences between his legitimate and fraudulent studies.


August 28 • 2:00 AM

Poverty and Geography: The Myth of Racial Segregation

Migration, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality (not to mention class), can be a poverty-buster.


August 27 • 4:00 PM

The ‘Non-Lethal’ Flash-Bang Grenades Used in Ferguson Can Actually Be Quite Lethal

A journalist says he was singed by a flash-bang fired by St. Louis County police trying to disperse a crowd, raising questions about how to use these military-style devices safely and appropriately.


August 27 • 2:00 PM

Do Better Looking People Have Better Personalities Too?

An experiment on users of the dating site OKCupid found that members judge both looks and personality by looks alone.


August 27 • 12:00 PM

Love Can Make You Stronger

A new study links oxytocin, the hormone most commonly associated with social bonding, and the one that your body produces during an orgasm, with muscle regeneration.


August 27 • 11:05 AM

Education, Interrupted

When it comes to educational access, young Syrian refugees are becoming a “lost generation.”


August 27 • 9:47 AM

No, Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder Isn’t Real

But people are anxious about losing their phones, even if they don’t do much to protect them.


August 27 • 8:00 AM

A Skeptic Meets a Psychic: When You Can See Into the Future, How Do You Handle Uncertainty?

For all the crystal balls and beaded doorways, some psychics provide a useful, non-paranormal service. The best ones—they give good advice.


August 27 • 6:00 AM

Speaking Eyebrow: Your Face Is Saying More Than You Think

Our involuntary gestures take on different “accents” depending on our cultural background.


August 27 • 4:00 AM

The Politics of Anti-NIMBYism and Addressing Housing Affordability

Respected expert economists like Paul Krugman and Edward Glaeser are confusing readers with their poor grasp of demography.


Follow us


Subscribe Now

Your Brain Decides Whether to Trust Someone in Milliseconds

We can determine trustworthiness even when we’re only subliminally aware of the other person.

Young, Undocumented, and Invisible

While young migrant workers struggle under poor working conditions, U.S. policy has done little to help.

Education, Interrupted

When it comes to educational access, young Syrian refugees are becoming a “lost generation.”

No, Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder Isn’t Real

But people are anxious about losing their phones, even if they don’t do much to protect them.

Being a Couch Potato: Not So Bad After All?

For those who feel guilty about watching TV, a new study provides redemption.

The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014 fast-food-big-one

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.