NARRATIVES

How to use these narratives

The narratives on OurStoryHub.org are written as easy to use communications guides.

You can use the guides in writing any kind of communications, from long items like blog posts and speeches to short forms like an action alert or tweet.

The narratives are much more flexible than typical messages, which are often difficult to apply to actual communications. Instead, each sentence or paragraph is designed to stand on its own and be inserted in your communications.

When you are writing, the narrative can serve as an outline, with key sentences. You can plug them into the specific issue or situation you are writing about. Or if you have an outline in mind, you can look for key sentences from the narrative that will help shape your story.

Each of the narratives on OurStoryHub.org is presented in two forms:

Form 1: An Epic Story Outline

  • Quest
  • Problem – with villains and their threats
  • Solution – with heroes and their tools
  • How we get there – the tools the heroes you
  • Call to action – how the heroes vanquish the villains to achieve their quest

An America that Works for All of US – Multi-Issue- Narrative

Overall Quest
An America that works for all of us
An America that works for all of us is a narrative that unites a wide variety of issues, as presented in long narrative form and in a slide show with script. Below we list the banners that shape the narrative and examples of issues that can be described under each banner. These are just examples; every issue can be placed under at least one banner and some fit under multiple banners.

Banners:

An economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

  • Good jobs – minimum wage; pay equity; earned sick; etc.
  • Job creation; infrastructure; climate/green jobs
  • Freedom to organize a union

A government that works for all of us, not just corporate lobbyists.

  • Education: K-12 and higher ed
  • Health care
  • Retirement and social security
  • Taxes and budget issues

A democracy that works for all of us, not just CEO campaign contributors.

  • Voting rights
  • Campaign finance
  • Union organizing

A nation that works for all of us.

  • Criminal justice
  • Immigration
The full version of this narrative is a powerful telling of how we create a progressive America, guaranteed to get a great audience response. It is designed to tell a powerful, understandable story as a whole AND to be a guide to communications separately about any of the issues addressed. You can apply this narrative frame to anything from a short sound bite on one issue, to organizing materials, email blasts, blogs and opeds, testimony to a whole speech.

Download An America that Works for ALL of US

To access the Speaker notes: on the Google Slides control panel 
select the options button (gear icon), then open speaker notes.

Racial Justice – Narrative Guidance

opportunity-agenda_logo

Experience from around the country shows that discussing racial inequity and promoting racial justice are particularly challenging today. Some Americans have long been skeptical about the continued existence of racial discrimination and unequal opportunity. But with the historic election of an African American president, that skepticism is more widespread and more vocal than ever. President Obama’s important political victory, in other words, threatens to eclipse the large body of evidence documenting the continuing influence of racial bias and other barriers to equal opportunity. The current economic crisis, moreover, has fostered a welcome discussion of socioeconomic inequality, but often to the exclusion of racial injustice.

This memo sets out 10 principles that can help facilitate productive communications on racial justice problems and solutions. It is intended for communications with “persuadables”—that is, audiences who are neither solidly favorable nor unfavorable on these issues, but are capable of persuasion through the right approaches. This includes large segments of the U.S. public, as well as many journalists, policymakers, and opinion leaders who influence the public debate. The recommendations are derived from public opinion and media research as well as practical experience over the last year.

Download the PDF at the Opportunity Agenda

An Economy

That Works for All of Us

Progressive Economic Narrative

Quest
An Economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy

Americans understand that the economy now works for just the wealthy – and they want that to change. But they also want to be sure that we can grow the economy and increase prosperity. Our economic story shows that the policies that work for everyone are the same ones that boost economic growth.

The problem – Today, Americans struggle to earn enough to sustain a family, yet corporations use donations and lobbyists to manipulate the rules in their favor.

  • It’s time to rewrite the rules to people and families first, instead of the interests of just the wealthy and corporate CEOs.

Solution – We should make improving the incomes of working families and the middle-class our first priority—a strong middle class is the way to build a strong economy and thriving communities.

  • Prosperity comes from the middle-out, not trickle-down.
  • Working families and the middle class are the engines of our economy. When we have good jobs so we can care for and support our families, educate our children, afford our health care, shop in our neighborhoods and retire in security, we drive the economy forward and build thriving communities.
  • When we include everyone in our economy, we all do better.

How we get there – We build a strong middle class by decisions we make together. It’s time to rewrite the rules of the economy and politics to benefit all Americans by [issue examples in values terms]…:

  • Economic example: Raising wages for working people with equal pay for women, boosting the minimum wage and creating more family-supporting jobs by investing in infrastructure and clean, renewable energy.
  • Political example: Rewrite the rules of elections so that everyday Americans can represent us by running for office on the strength of their support from small donations—not big checks from the wealthiest Americans.
  • Talking about race: Taking down the barriers – discrimination in hiring, underfunded schools, a biased criminal justice system – that block equal opportunities for Blacks and Latinos.

Call to action – Together we can build an America that works for all of us.

  • The issue is not the size of our government, it’s who our government works for: the super-rich and corporate CEOs or working families and the middle class?
  • We’re working to build an America that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well connected.
  • When you said the pledge of allegiance was it for liberty and justice for the few, for the super-rich? Or for all? Americans have done this before. We can do it again. Together we can build an America with liberty and justice for all for all of us.
To access the Speaker notes: on the Google Slides control panel 
select the options button (gear icon), then open speaker notes.

Toolkit for Progressive Economic Narrative

Words to replace and embrace in talking about the economy

Talking About Race in Economic Narrative Messaging

Memes and Talking Points on Inclusive Economics

Boost or Bust – animated video on economy boosting jobs

Fairness and Growth: Progressive Economic Alternative – video

Training on how to put the Progressive Economic Narrative in your own words

Writing a Speech Mad-Lib for Elected Officials

Writing a Speech Mad-Lib for Issue Advocates

Quotes from Leaders Using Progressive Economic Narrative

Links to economic research behind the narrative [all attached].

Good Jobs

An Economy that Works for All of Us

Good Jobs and the Freedom to Organize Together

Quest
An economy that works for all of us, not just big corporations, with good jobs and the freedom for working people to stand up together.

The problem – Powerful corporations are using their influence to keep down wages and benefits, so that working people can’t meet the basics to care for and support their families. That hurts our communities and slows down the economy.

  • When corporations don’t allow working people to afford the basics, that means less spending in our neighborhoods, hurting small businesses and our communities.
  • Corporate CEOs want to call all the shots, even denying their employees the freedom to join together in a union and negotiate for decent wages and benefits and better working conditions.

Our solution – Working families and the middle class are the engines of the economy.
 When working people earn good pay and have decent benefits and can shop at local businesses and support and care for their families, they drive the economy moving forward.

  • The more we assure that every working person gets the opportunity to get a good job, the better we will all be.

How we get there – We build a strong middle class by decisions we make together.

  • It’s time to rewrite the rules so that businesses will pay decent wages and benefits; arrange work so that workers can do their jobs and care for their families; and respect working people’s freedom to stand together and form unions.
  • We need to break down the barriers – discrimination in hiring, a biased criminal justice system, underfunded schools – they keep incomes and opportunities down for Blacks and Latinos.

Call to action – Together, we can build an economy and an America that works for all of us.

  • Around the country, working people are standing up for the freedom to stick together at work, to be treated with dignity, to have our work rewarded with good pay and benefits that make it possible to care for and support our families.
  • It’s up to us to make sure that we write the rules so that corporations don’t get away with holding down wages and benefits while CEOs and stockholders get rich.
  • The issue is not the size of our government, it’s whose side the government is on – working families or CEOs. Our government 
should ensure opportunity for every working family, not just those with the most money and power.
  • When you said the pledge of allegiance was it for liberty and justice for the few, for the super-rich? Or for all? Americans have done this before. We can do it again. Together we can build an America with liberty and justice for all for all of us.

Download the Good Job Narrative

Words to Use In Talking about Economy

For more tips on how to talk about working people see AFL CIO Words the Work

Paid Sick Days

Overall Quest
Every working person should have paid sick days, so we can care for and support our families and build thriving communities.

The problem – No one should face the impossible choice of caring for their health and the health of their family or getting paid. But millions of working people, whose employers don’t include paid sick days as a basic benefit at work, make this decision every time they get sick or a family member needs care.

  • With so many women in today’s workforce, paid sick time should be a basic benefit for working moms and dads to be able to take care of themselves, a sick child or family member. Our families and our needs have changed, but the rules of the workplace have not kept up with the needs of the new workforce driving our economy.
  • Everyone wants what’s best for their children, but without paid sick days, parents are often forced to choose between their family’s financial stability and their health and children’s health.
  • We all get sick or need to care for ourselves and our families. Workplace protections should not be up to the policies of an individual employer, which results in some working people getting good benefits and others getting none.
  • Big corporations increase their profits by holding down wages and benefits, including basic protections like paid sick days.
  • Many small-business owners want to treat their employees well—including offering fair pay and good benefits. But big box stores and corporate chains threaten to undercut small, local businesses by denying working people basic benefits to care for and support their families, including paid sick days.

Our solution – No matter our occupation, we all get sick or need to take care of our family. All of us, by law, should have paid sick days as a basic standard at work.

  • Working people should have the peace of mind that comes with earning a decent wage and knowing one bout of flu or a sick child won’t cost them their job or being able to pay that month’s rent.
  • Paid sick days help seniors, when adult children can afford to take them to the doctor or care for them during an illness.
  • By providing paid sick days, so working people don’t lose pay or their job when they are sick or need to care for a sick family member, we help build thriving communities and boost the economy.

How we get there – We need to update the rules of the workplace, so working people can care for and support their families.

  • The basic rules of today’s workplace should include a set number of paid sick days, so people can get their work done and care for and support their families.
  • Just like our government sets standards for a 40-hour work week, minimum wage and health and safety, in today’s workforce we need to guarantee every working person a set number of paid sick days.
  • Setting a fair floor for wages and benefits will level the playing field for small businesses and allow them to treat their workers right without fear of being undercut by big corporations who hold down wages and benefits.

Call to action – It’s up to us to demand that every working person should have paid sick days, so we can care for and support our families and build thriving communities.

  • We must hold our elected officials accountable for rewriting the rules so that every job comes with a set number of paid sick days, so we can care for and support our families, and help our communities to thrive.
  • Cities and states around the country are leading the way by making paid sick days a basic benefit for working people. It’s time we did that for working people throughout the nation.
  • It’s time for policies that help families get ahead and build an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.

Download the Paid Sick Days Narrative

Download the American Women message guide for Economic Security for Women and Families

Download the Family Values at Work toolkit

Paid Family Leave

Overall Quest
Every working person should have paid family leave so we can care for and support our families and build thriving communities

The problem – Nearly everyone needs to take time away from work to care for a new child or to deal with a serious personal or family illness. But millions of working people, whose employers don’t include paid family leave as a basic benefit at work, cannot afford to take this essential time to care for their families.

  • With so many women in today’s workforce, paid family leave should be a basic benefit for working moms and dads to be able to take care of a new child or care for their own serious illness or that of a family member. Our families and our needs have changed, but the rules of the workplace have not kept up with the demands on the new workforce driving our economy.
  • Everyone wants what’s best for their family, but without paid family leave, parents are often forced to choose between their family’s financial stability and the health and well-being of their children or elderly parents.
  • All of us will have the need for family leave at some point in our lives. Workplace protections should not be up to the policies of an individual employer, which results in some people getting good benefits and others getting none.
  • Big corporations increase their profits by holding down wages and benefits, including basic protections like paid family leave.
  • Many small-business owners want to treat their employees well—including offering fair pay and good benefits. But big box stores and corporate chains threaten to undercut small, local businesses by denying working people basic benefits to care for and support their families, including paid family leave.

Our solution – No matter our occupation, we all need to take care of our family. All of us, by law, should have paid family leave as a basic standard at work.

  • Working people should have the peace of mind that comes with earning a decent wage and knowing that welcoming a new child, or they or family member suffering a serious won’t cost them their job or wreck their finances.
  • Paid family leave will benefit seniors, when adult children can afford to care for them during a serious illness.
  • By providing paid family leave, so working people can afford to take the time to care for a new child or to deal with their own or a loved one’s serious illness, we help build thriving communities and boost the economy.

How we get there  We need to update the rules of the workplace, so working people can care for and support their families.

  • The basic rules of today’s workplace should include a paid family leave fund, so all working people can afford to take that precious time with a new child or care for themselves or a loved one facing a serious illness.
  • Just like our government makes funds for retirement and workers compensation a basic part of work, in today’s workforce we need to make a fund for family leave part of every job.
  • Setting a fair floor for wages and benefits will level the playing field for small businesses and allow them to treat their workers right without fear of being undercut by big corporations who hold down wages and benefits.

Call to action  It’s up to us to demand that every working person should have paid family leave, so we can care for and support our families and build thriving communities.

  • We must hold our elected officials accountable for rewriting the rules so that every job comes with a family leave, so we can care for and support our families, and help our communities to thrive.
  • States around the country are leading the way by making paid sick days a basic benefit for working people. It’s time we did that for working people throughout the nation.
  • It’s time for policies that help families get ahead and build an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.

Download Paid Family Leave Narrative

Download the American Women message guide for Economic Security for Women and Families

Download the Family Values at Work toolkit

Fair Work Week

An Economy that Works for All of Us – Not Just the Wealthy

Overall Quest
Every working person should have a fair workweek – reliable hours at decent pay, so we can care for and support our families and build thriving communities

The problem – Big corporations are playing games with working peoples’ time, forcing moms, dads and students to scramble to meet last minute, unreliable work hours.

  • Too many working people are available to work but don’t get the hours the need to meet the basics. That slows down the economy and harms our communities.
  • Ever-changing work hours harm family and individual health, increase stress and contribute to sleep loss, poor mental health, and increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Our solution – Set basic standards for every job, with decent pay and hours we can count on, so that working people can care for and support our families, keep healthy and build thriving communities.

How we get there  We need to rewrite the rules to set basic standards for every job, with decent pay and hours we can count on.

  • Insist that corporations use modern technology to deliver hours that allow us to care for our families and get the job done.
  • Require that a job come up enough hours each week so working people can budget to make ends meet.
  • Fairly compensating employees for their time and flexibility – just like someone who puts in extra hours earns overtime pay, so too should someone who sacrifices their personal life to be available on short-notice.
  • Protect people from unhealthy schedules, like those that require an employee to close late at night and turn right around to open the next morning.

Call to action  It’s up to us to demand we all have a workweek we can count on – one that allows all of us to support and care of our families, keep healthy, and support our communities.

  • We must hold our elected officials accountable for rewriting the rules so that every job comes with reliable hours at decent pay, so we can care for and support our families, and help our communities to thrive.

We can do this. We can build an America that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.

Download the Fair Workweek Narrative

Raising Wages

An Economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.

Overall Quest
Every working person should be paid enough to care for and support their family

The problem – Powerful corporations are using their influence to keep down wages, so that working people can’t meet the basics to care for and support their families. 
That hurts our communities and slows down the economy.

  • It’s ridiculous that even jobs like nursing assistants, preschool teachers, and paramedics pay low wages – much less than $15 an hour. We should value working people more than that.
  • The minimum wage is so low that many full time workers qualify for food stamps and other public assistance. Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize low wage employers; corporations should pay workers enough to live on

Our Solution – Working families and middle-class are the engines of the economy. The more money we put in the pockets of working people, the more their spending boosts Main Street, creates jobs and helps our communities thrive.

  • The more we assure that every working person gets the opportunity to get a good job, the better we will all be.

How we Get There – By raising the minimum wage so that working people can meet the basics to care for and support their families, we boost the economy and help build thriving communities.

  • Raise the minimum wage to lower the imbalance between what men and women get paid for the same work.
  • Take down the barriers – discrimination in hiring, underfunded schools, a biased criminal justice system – that keep wages lower for Blacks and Latinos.
  • Raise the minimum wage to level the playing field between small businesses, who do the right thing by paying higher wages than big, out of state corporations.
    • Small businesses pay understand that when their employees earn more, that boosts Main Street and builds thriving communities.
  • End the subminimum tipped wage so that every working person can care and support their families.

 

Call to Action – It’s time we raised the minimum wage!

  • Around the country, working people are standing up for the freedom to stick together at work, to be treated with dignity, to have our work rewarded with good pay and benefits that make it possible to care for and support our families.
  • It’s up to us to make sure that we write the rules so that corporations don’t get away with holding down wages and benefits while CEOs and stockholders get rich.

Every working parent should get paid enough to care for their kids and set them off toward 
a great future.

Download Raising the Minimum Wage Narrative

Raising Wages Message Guide.pdf

Raising Wages Epic Story Elements.docx

American Wages: Public Opinion Research on Raising Wages

Stand with Women

For an America that Works for All of Us

Overall Quest
Every woman should have a full opportunity to live a fulfilling life and be valued for her contributions to society.

The problem – Today, women are central to caring for and supporting our families and growing our nation’s economy. But while times have changed, the rules and standards about work haven’t kept up.

  • Working women and men struggle to earn enough to raise and sustain a family, while CEOs use donations and lobbyists manipulate the rules in their favor.

For many women that means low pay, little or no paid time off to care for a newborn baby, sick child or elderly parent, costly childcare and no retirement benefits.

  • Too many elected officials are taking away access to the reproductive services women need to make their own decisions about health care and starting a family.

Our solution – We should make improving the incomes and lives of working families and the middle class our first priority. When women earn enough to care and support a family, their spending boosts the economy and builds thriving communities.

How we get there – It’s time to rewrite the rules so that women’s work and contributions are fully valued.

  • Equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage to a family supporting wage, guaranteeing the right to stick together and form a union, and ensuring fair promotions and representation in leadership at work.
  • The freedom to make the most important decision in a woman’s life: if, when and how many children to have – without interference from elected officials or employers. That means full access to affordable, reproductive health services, including no-cost birth control, abortion, pregnancy and maternity care.
  • Investments in affordable childcare, education, job training, and retirement security, so women can participate fully in our communities and the economy.
  • Taking down the barriers of discrimination that block equal opportunity for women of color to care for and support their families and make a better life for their children.
  • Paid sick days to care for ourselves or a sick child and paid family leave to care for a newborn or family member. It means reliable hours at work, so we can plan the time to care for our families. And an end to loss of pay and promotions that result from time off for caring for children and aging relatives.

Call to action – It’s time for every leader and lawmaker in our country to decide whether to stand with women or to stand in their way.

  • Together we can build a better future for our families in an America that works for all of us

Download Stand with Women Narrative

Taxes and Budget

 Fair Taxes for a Prosperous America

Overall Quest
An economy that works for all of us, not just big corporations and the wealthy few, with fair taxes that help build the foundation for a strong and prosperous America.

  • Thriving communities and families are built on the foundations that are paid for with taxes.

The problem – Out-of-control tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy are syphoning off the resources needed to build thriving communities.

  • Corporations and the wealthy have manipulated the rules of the tax system to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

We could accomplish a lot more in America if we cleaned-up the giant tax loopholes and wasteful tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.

  • When the wealthy pay lower tax rates than the rest of us, our tax system is upside down. We need to turn it right-side up.
  • Many big profitable corporations – such as GE, Pfizer, and Verizon – have gone years without paying any federal income taxes at all. When they don’t pay, the rest of us have to fill the gaps.

Our solution – To build strong and prosperous communities, we need to clean up the tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.

  • We all benefit if we have enough resources to invest in thriving communities and families.

How we get there – We need to rewrite the rules of our tax code to invest in thriving communities.

  • Instead of cutting funding for our communities, we should close the tax loopholes that benefit the rich and big corporations.
  • Level the playing field for small businesses by closing loopholes that favor big corporations.
  • Turn the tax system right-side up, by assuring that the wealthy pay a higher share of all their income than working families and the middle-class.

Call to action  Together, we can insist on fair taxes to build thriving communities.

  • We can hold our elected officials accountable for creating a tax system that works for working families and the middle-class, instead of the wealthy and big corporations.
  • We will fight for ending the tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations and investing those funds in building thriving communities all across America.

Download Tax Narrative

Americans for Tax Fairness Messages.docx

Research on Taxes

Education

Great American Public Schools for All of America’s Children

Overall Quest
Strong neighborhood public schools in every community in America, where we give each and every child the opportunity to learn and succeed, in college, in career and in life.

  • Strong neighborhood public schools are a foundation of the American promise of freedom and opportunity to create a better life for us and our children.

The problem – 
 We have great schools throughout America, but in too many communities we are not giving our schools the resources and support they need for every child to succeed.

  • In thousands of communities across America, the promise of attending a great public school is being kept every day.
  • But in too many communities, from cities to small towns, and too often in communities of color, elected officials are not giving our neighborhood schools the resources and support to assure that each and every child succeeds.
  • A child is more than a test score. It’s time to reduce the over-reliance on standardized tests, and let teachers teach.
  • Corporate CEOs and big campaign donors have pushed their own personal agenda to drain resources from public schools into charter and private for-profit schools.
  • Our schools shouldn’t be competing with each other for the resources needed for our children to learn. We don’t want winners and losers – every school should have the supports needed for our children to succeed.

Our solution –  Schools in every neighborhood in America should be provided with the resources and establish the educational environment needed for every child to learn and succeed in college, career and life.

  • Every child in every community has the right to attend a strong neighborhood public school – that opportunity should never depend on a child’s zip code, the color of their skin or a child’s abilities.

How we get there  We build great public schools by decisions we make together.

  • Every student should have a qualified, well-prepared, caring and committed teacher.
  • Every child should have a well-rounded education to develop the critical thinking skills they need to succeed today and as the world changes.
  • Early childhood education is key to a child’s long-term success. All our children should have the opportunity to get a great start with early education, including full-day pre-K and kindergarten.
  • Today, schools that serve low-income children, often children of color, get the fewest resources. That has to stop if America is going to move forward.
  • All of our children should be in a school with a positive, safe and supportive learning environment. This includes fair discipline policies, which keep classrooms safe and students in school learning.
  • Our neighborhood schools can become a center for thriving families in strong communities – staying open after regular classes are done, with classes, health services, music and art, career training for children, young people, adults and seniors.

Call to Action – It’s up to us – parents, teachers, school administrators, everyone who works in our schools and community members – to assure strong neighborhood public schools for all of our children.

  • It’s up to us to hold our elected officials responsible for providing our children and teachers in neighborhood schools throughout America with the resources they need to succeed. Instead of tax breaks for the super-rich and more loopholes for huge corporations, we should invest in our children to provide them with a brighter future.
  • We must insist that our public schools remain democratically controlled, so parents, teachers, community members and students have a real voice in how our schools are run.
  • We know how to do this. We have great schools throughout America. We can create strong neighborhood public schools in every community in our nation.

Climate Narrative

Climate Solutions for An America that Works for All of Us

Overall Quest
Communities that are powered by clean, renewable energy to safeguard the health and futures of our families, our community and our planet.

  • We can no longer ignore our strange and increasingly severe weather. We have a moral obligation to protect our children – this means preparing for and tackling climate change now.

The problem – villains and their threats: Big oil corporations are spending billions of dollars to rig the system against clean energy solutions. We need to restore our democracy and put people, not big oil, in charge.

  • Oil and coal corporations have blocked clean energy policies and solutions by intentionally confusing Americans about the climate problem. Big oil corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make people think climate science is uncertain, even targeting teachers and schoolchildren with misinformation.
  • Oil and coal corporations have singled out low-income communities and communities of color for toxic pollution. The climate damaging policies pushed by big oil and coal corporations often have had the most harmful impacts on low-income communities and communities of color.
  • The cost of big oil’s greed – causing rising sea levels, increasing droughts, floods, wildfires and extreme weather – can be measured in lost lives, higher food prices, poorer health and billions of dollars in disaster relief.

Our solution – Invest in clean, renewable energy in our own communities and throughout our country.  

  • We are producing clean, abundant energy right here, in communities across America. These investments create good local jobs, increase efficiency, and provide more choices for consumers, helping to create a more stable climate for our children.
  • We must give communities that are bearing the greatest burden from climate damage a central in solving problems and setting policy to protect their families.
  • We need to protect our families, our communities and our livelihoods today from the harmful impacts we are already experiencing from climate change and prepare for further impacts in the years ahead.

How we get there –  We build a clean energy future by decisions we make together.

  • Instead of tax breaks and subsidies for big oil, we should invest in clean renewable energy and in more energy efficiency, creating local jobs, stronger communities, and a more stable climate.

By making our homes, buildings, businesses and transportation more energy efficient and moving from polluting energy to wind turbines on farms and solar on our roofs, we will take charge of our energy futures.

  • We should rewrite the rules to replace climate wrecking fossil fuels with energy that will protect and sustain the health of our families and communities.
  • We should implement clean energy plans in low-income communities and communities of color, with the full participation of community residents.
  • We must invest today in protecting families and communities against the increased danger from climate change.

Call to action   Together we can take charge of our energy futures and protect our families, our country and our planet.

  • All across the country, cities and states are leading the way in reducing their energy use. In the process, they are saving money, reducing carbon emissions, and creating jobs by making buildings more energy efficient.
  • We must demand that our elected officials say no to big oil and yes to our families and our future.
  • Those who say nothing can be done about climate change forget who we are and what we can do. No one should doubt America’s ingenuity and resolve. Together we can build a safe, healthy future for our families, our country and our planet.

Download the Climate Narrative

For more material, training and support link to climatendarrative.org, including:

Criminal Justice

Overall Quest
We all want to live in safe communities, to be treated with dignity and respect, with a criminal justice system based on equal treatment not stereotypes or bias.

The problem – We are currently saddled with an outdated, unfair, biased and bloated criminal justice system that drains resources, and disrupts communities.

  • Long prison sentences for “victimless crimes” and for young people, a “one size fits all” approach that defies common sense, and campaign contributions from the private prison industry have led to too many people being in prison and too much money being spent to keep them there.
  • Too often police departments use racial profiling, which is singling people out because of their race or accent, instead of based on evidence of wrongdoing. That’s against our national values, endangers our young people, and reduces public safety.
  • Local governments rely on the criminal justice system to raise revenues, telling the police to make as many arrests as possible for traffic and other petty violations, imposing high fines and penalties, forcing people to miss work to go to court. These unfair practices do real harm to families and weaken communities.

Our solution – We need our criminal justice system to uphold our values, based on equality, prevention and treatment, while safeguarding our communities.

  • We should focus our actions and our resources on better education, job training and treatment instead of more prisons, police and judges.

How we get there – We need to rewrite the rules of our criminal justice system to:

  • Make greater investment in prevention and treatment: mental health and addiction services, job training, economic opportunity.
  • Give people a chance to start over through training, opportunity, and removing arbitrary barriers.
  • Assure that law enforcement agencies train their officers to pursue evidence, avoid racial profiling, and treat all communities with respect.
  • Focus on community policing, understanding communities and interacting with residents so that police can set aside stereotypes and better protect public safety.
  • End the practice of using the criminal justice system as a way to raise revenues, by prohibiting quotas, dramatically lowering fines and penalties and ending the practice of putting people in prison when they can’t afford to pay fines.

Call to action – Together we can create a criminal justice system that supports safe, thriving communities.

  • It’s up to us to demand that our elected officials create a criminal justice system based on core American values – equal treatment, opportunity and freedom.

Download Criminal Justice Narrative

Opportunity Agenda narrative for criminal justice reform

Health Care

Health Care that Works for All of Us

Overall Quest
A health care system that works for all of us, with good health and healthy communities.

The problem – Big insurance and drug corporations – and even hospitals – are profiteering off our being sick instead of being rewarded for keeping us and our communities healthy.

  • Skyrocketing insurance company deductibles, high hospital charges and price gouging by prescription drug corporations are unaffordable – forcing us to choose between health care and other basics.
  • Corporations and the super rich are using campaign cash and lobbyists to hold down wages and benefits. Flat wages, jobs that don’t give us the time to care for our families, poor housing in unsafe communities, the high cost of getting to work and retirement worries all mean more stress and worse health.
  • Barriers to community and individual well being – underfunded education, unsafe housing, pollution, lack of public transportation, biased medical research – do real harm to the health of many people color.

Our solution – We need a health system that works for our health and healthy communities, not corporate profits.

  • Every community has nutritious food, clean air and water, good housing in safe communities, good jobs, places to exercise and play.
  • Health care coverage that includes all the health care services we need and that we can to afford to use it when we need it.
  • Quality care and community supports working together to keep us healthy and treat us when we are sick.

How we get there  We must rewrite the rules of our health care system to:

  • Make sure that everyone can afford good coverage, which pays for all our health care needs, with insurance premiums based on what we earn and can afford.
  • Make sure we can afford to obtain care when needed, by eliminating deductibles, lowering co-payments and putting an end to drug corporation’s profiteering by requiring affordable prescription drugs prices.
  • Focus on the keys to keeping healthy – a healthy environment, good housing in safe communities, affordable healthy food. Being able to get to work, at a good job, so we can care for and support our families.
  • Insist on getting value for our health care dollars, with common sense measures that pay hospitals and doctors for how well they take care of patients; and by providing incentives to coordinate care, keep us healthy, help us take care of our own health, and improve the health of our communities.
  • Assure that all of us, regardless of our gender or our race or ethnic background, get access to quality care, investing in research and services that take account of our differences, our communities and our cultures.
  • Guarantee that patient and community advocates have a strong voice when the rules of our health care system are being written.

Call to action  We can create a health care system that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

  • It’s time that our elected officials stand up to the insurance and drug corporations and hospital chains and write the rules so that they put the health of our families and communities before their profits.
  • We can demand that everyday people have a voice in the health care system.

Americans are proud of the best of our health care. It’s time we worked together to make the best of American health care work for all of us

Download Health Care Narrative

Gun Violence

Overall Quest
The freedom to be safe in our homes, our neighborhoods and at work, without the constant threat of gun violence hanging over our heads.

 

The problem with Villians– Gun violence is rampant in America because sensible gun laws have been undone, reckless new measures have been passed, and glaring loopholes in our current laws have been allowed to remain open.

  • Current laws allow easy access to guns for criminals, mentally unstable people, and even terrorists.
  • Our police officers are at risk every day when they confront criminals who are armed to the teeth with military-style weapons that are freely available
      This isn’t a conversation about your grandfather’s hunting rifle. Extraordinarily dangerous, military-style weapons are now within easy reach across America.
  • The NRA’s lobbyists aren’t defending everyday folks. They’re a giant operation defending powerful gun manufacturers at every turn.
      74% of NRA members support requiring background checks of anyone purchasing a gun. It’s NRA’s officials and lobbyists are the problem.
  • For decades, NRA officials, the firearms industry, and their allies on Capitol Hill have waged a relentless effort to gut common sense gun laws and to pass reckless measures that put more people at risk.
      You don’t hear much from the NRA and their allies when violence strikes. That’s because they can’t possibly defend their reckless agenda in the face of such terrible human pain and suffering.
  • There isn’t a shred of credible evidence that more guns and more shooting save people’s lives. There is lots of evidence that more guns and more shooting mean more tragedy.

Our solution – We need stronger gun laws to free us from the gun violence that threatens or homes and our communities.

  • Stronger gun laws protect our children and keep people alive.

How we get there Common sense gun laws are allowed under the Second Amendment, because they help prevent gun deaths, injuries, and crimes in communities across the country. We need to rewrite the rules to: 

  • Make sure that all gun sales require federal background checks. Close the loophole that allows criminals, dangerously mentally ill and domestic abusers to buy guns from unlicensed dealers without a background check.
  • Restrict the sale of military style assault weapons and ammunition magazines.
  • Protect the safety of women and families by blocking abusive dating partners and those stalkers from buying guns.

Call to action  It’s up to us to demand that elected officials strengthen gun laws to protect our families and our communities from gun violence.

  • It’s time our elected officials cared more about the pain and turmoil gun violence causes than NRA’s lobbyists and gun manufacturers.
  • There is no excuse for the failure to act: we know how to dramatically reduce gun violence and protect our families and communities.
  • Together, we can make Americans free to be safe in our homes, our neighborhoods and at work from the threat of gun violence.

Americans are proud of the best of our health care. It’s time we worked together to make the best of American health care work for all of us

Download Gun Violence Narrative

Democracy and the Role of Government

Democracy

Overall Quest
A thriving democracy where every voter’s voice is heard, and every voice counts equally.

The Problem – Campaign contributions from the wealthy and big corporations and barriers to voting block the voices and representation of the vas t majority of people.

  • The rules allow the wealthy and big corporations to have a louder voice than working families and the middle class.

When it takes so much money to run for office, it’s tough for regular people to get elected and represent their communities.

  • Some elected officials who want to hold on to power – backed by the wealthy and big corporations – erect barriers to voting, often directed at people of color and young adults.

Our solution – Our democracy depends on every voice being heard, everyone being able to vote and ordinary people being able to compete fairly for office.

How we get there –  We need to rewrite the rules of our democracy so that every voice is heard:

  • Empower small donors: Match small contributions to candidates with a limited amount of public funds, so that ordinary people can run for office and represent their communities.
  • Take down barriers to voting: Take down barriers to voting with automatic registration, expanded online registration, and expanded early and mail-in voting to strengthen our democracy. Prohibit voter ID and other laws that are directed at making it harder for people to vote.
  • Expand and protect the vote: People who have served their time and are on parole should be allowed to vote.
  • Stop partisan manipulation of districts: Reform the rules and make the process of drawing districts impartial, so that our government is of, by, and for the people.

Call to action – It’s up to us to demand that we take down the barriers to every voice being heard, so that our democracy and government work for all of us, not just the wealthy few.

  • We can restore balance to our democracy and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and every voice matters.

Download Democracy Narrative

Words to use in talking about democracy

Moving Americans to Action – A Message Guide for Democracy Advocates

Role of Government

A Government that Works for All of Us… Not Just the Wealthy

Overall Quest
Our government should work for all of us not just the wealthy and powerful.

The problem – More and more Americans don’t feel like we have a say in our government’s decisions because the wealthy and big corporations use campaign contributions and lobbying to manipulate the rules in their favor.

Our solution – When we have an equal voice and equal say, we can create thriving communities through our government.

  • Government is how we build the public structures that are the foundation of our society and fundamental to our prosperity, freedom, security, opportunity and a strong middle-class.

How we get there – It’s time to rewrite the rules so that our government acts by and for everyday Americans.

  • When our government represents us:

We create prosperity by building modern transportation and communications grids and with great public schools and colleges.

We protect our families and communities with important laws about clean air, food and safe workplaces.

We assure our security with vital family and community services and the guarantees of Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and Social Security.

  • We must rewrite the rules of elections so that everyday Americans can represent us by running for office on the strength of their support from small donations—not big checks from the wealthiest Americans.

Call to action – It’s up to us to stand up for a government that works for all of us, not just the wealthy.

  • The issue is not the size of our government, it’s who our government works for: the super-rich and corporate CEOs or working families and the middle class?
  • Everyone should vote and when everyday people take steps just beyond voting we can have a say in how decisions are made in our communities and our state.
  • Our government should be by and for all the people, not just the most powerful.
  • We have a shared responsibility to maintain the public things we depend on for our freedom and our quality of life.
  • When you said the pledge of allegiance was it for liberty and justice for the few, for the super-rich? Or for all? Americans have done this before. We can do it again. Together we can build an America with liberty and justice for all of us.

Download Government Narrative

Public Works

By and for the people recommendations examples 2016

Immigration

An America that Works for All of Us

Overall Quest
America deserves a common sense immigration process, one that includes a roadmap for new Americans who aspire to be citizens.

  • America is a nation of values, founded on an idea – that all men and women are created equal, that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they came from That families should stick together, that we should look out for each other, that hard work should be rewarded. In the freedom to be what you want, do what you want and say what you want.
  • How we treat new immigrants reflects our commitment to the values that define us as Americans.

The problem – But the current patchwork of immigration policies and programs doesn’t make any sense. It’s mismanaged and broken and it breaks up families. There’s a maze of regulations with no line to become a fully participating American
.

Our solution – heroes: That’s why we need to create a commonsense immigration process that recognizes the hardships and contributions of people moving here, keeps families together and creates a roadmap to citizenship for new Americans who aspire to be citizens.

  • For aspiring citizens, the essential right of citizenship should be reachable by taking a test of our history and government, paying an appropriate fee and pledging allegiance to our country.

Call to action – America works best when we all do our part and work together as one nation, indivisible and strong.

  • You see, it’s not about what you look like or where you were born that makes you American – it’s how you live your life and what you do that defines you here in this country.
  • We can do this. We can agree on a commonsense immigration process that includes a roadmap for people who aspire to be citizens. We have done this throughout our history and we can do it again. This is what America is all about.

Download Immigration Narrative

Words to Use in Talking about Immigration

Here AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre talk about why he says I Am a Proud American

LGBT Issues

logoThe Movement Advancement Project has led the way in providing narrative and message advice for equality for LGBT Americans.
Ideas, and how they’re expressed, are at the center of all movements for change. Success in achieving equality for LGBT Americans requires a clear and compelling approach to messaging and communications. MAP explores the principles of effective communications for the LGBT movement so that it can help Americans understand the importance of change.
Most Americans simply don’t understand the inequalities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people—and how those inequalities affect their lives. Proper framing can help more Americans see that the movement for LGBT equality is really about everyday Americans wanting the same chance as everyone else to earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. It’s not just about gay people. It’s not just about transgender people. And it’s not just about straight people. It’s about all of us.

To reach the public, LGBT organizations need to identify their priority audiences, develop compelling messages, select and train spokespeople, target the right media, and take other steps to communicate effectively. MAP provides resources and information about how LGBT organizations can frame issues and run communications campaigns that move equality forward.

– See more here

America’s Role in the World

An America that Works for All of Us

Overall Quest
America’s path to security and prosperity is linked to a prosperous, secure world.

The problem – In today’s conflicts, the over-reliance on the use of force makes us less secure. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.

  • The United States is often a force for good, but when we rely too much on force, we make enemies not partners.
  • We’ve spent almost two trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but these countries are still violent and unstable. Excessive military spending has not made our country or the world safer.
  • When we spend so much on the Pentagon, the only solutions we have at the ready are military.
  • Pentagon contractors use campaign contributions to get Congress to force the Pentagon to spend money on wasteful, unnecessary projects the Pentagon doesn’t need and didn’t request. It’s time to get politics out of Pentagon spending.

Our solution – In today’s global world, we need to work with others to solve the big problems – terrorism, civil conflicts, climate disruption, fighting over resources and poverty.

How we get there – We build a more secure and prosperous America and world by decisions we make together.

  • Diplomacy, economic and humanitarian assistance are almost always much better choices for our security. War should be a last resort.
  • Instead of just building weapons to use when the world erupts, we should work with our allies to invest in raising living standards around the world – that way we’ll reduce the root causes of so many conflicts.
  • We must insist that that we put the safety of our troops and care for our veterans first – before hugely expensive weapons systems and the profits of Pentagon contractors.
  • We need to get our priorities right. Pentagon spending is out of balance with our overall needs.
    • Example: We are planning to spend a trillion dollars on new nuclear weapons. For the same amount of money, we could provide free tuition to every qualified student in the country for the next 16 years.

Call to action – It’s up to us to build a more secure and prosperous America in a more secure and prosperous world. 

  • It’s up to us to use our power wisely – to work with others to prevent and quiet conflicts.
  • We are going to hold our elected officials accountable for saying no to billion dollar weapons we don’t need and yes to raising living standards in America and around the world.
  • The United States can partner with others in providing leadership for a world of democracy, prosperity and security.

Download America’s Role in the World Narrative

To access the Speaker notes: on the Google Slides control panel 
select the options button (gear icon), then open speaker notes.