Republicans have their own language problems. They can do without “anchor babies” and “self-deportation,” which make immigrants sound like chattel. They should abandon “culture of dependency,” which only brings back bad memories of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent and is subject to continual misinterpretation. (Better to say what they favor, namely the “dignity of work” and the “satisfaction of earned success.”) Since government is not remotely small (and won’t be), better to sound like they are of this century and refer to “limited government” or “nimble government.” Instead of the clinical “income inequality” they need to speak about “spreading success” and “expanding the American dream.”

You think this is small stuff? Hardly. The rhetoric and the messenger is most of what ordinary, non-politically obsessed voters take in. If Republicans are angry and accusatory and use language to demean other Americans (“looking for a free lunch”) they wind up behind before the debate gets started.

Republicans are so used to talking to each other via blogs, radio talk shows, conservative conferences and right-leaning think tanks that they seem to have forgotten how to talk to people who aren’t hard core conservatives.