How to redefine a word your opponents are using to attack you

When a safety feature supported by a national nonprofit was killed because it ‘cost’ too much, the group fought back by repurposing the word ‘cost.’

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The group was lobbying lawmakers to require that new cars have a crucial safety feature that would save lives, reduce injuries, and save insurance companies money.

Sounds like a winning idea, yes?

It was, until a powerful interest fought back. “It will cost too much,” the interest’s reps told lawmakers. And the legislators, already skittish over a rocky economy, bought their arguments. They killed the safety feature, at least for the year.

The group tried again the next year, but it was concerned that it would continue to get grilled by legislators on the “cost” question. So, we decided to fight back by redefining the word “cost” to work in our favor. When legislators asked about the high cost, the group responded:

“The cost of not acting is significantly greater. It will cost families who lose a loved one in a preventable auto accident. It will cost a badly injured person the chance to return to the workforce. And it will cost American taxpayers a lifetime of government disability checks for people who didn’t have to suffer a debilitating injury. We simply cannot afford the cost of inaction.”

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