The Trump Administration has upped the ante in how it refers to the U.S.’ energy position, replacing ‘energy independence’ with the more aggressive ‘energy dominance.’ While the substance behind the phrasing remains largely unchanged according to the White House’s definition of the new terminology, the intention is to make decisions and take actions that ensure full advantage of the U.S.’ ability to lead the world in traditional energy production.
From a communicator’s perspective, words matter. Research from Stanford University a few years back showed that the words we use affect the way we think. Specifically, the headline of a news story is a better predictor of how a person will respond to a piece of news than their stated political affiliation. Every message and every action has an intention and an impact. Sometimes they go hand in hand, and sometimes they are out of sync.
This single word adjustment signals a potential change in the way the U.S. will be perceived globally. But will this change the way Americans feel about energy? America’s long-running brand is heavily focused on being a world leader. Adding global leadership in energy production will appeal to Americans’ sense of pride and patriotism. But will that make any difference in their support – or lack thereof – for policies and infrastructure that make such energy dominance and leadership possible? Personally, I think not. While Americans love the idea of independence and dominance, the reality of infrastructure in their backyard is a non-starter in most cases. Whether you love or hate energy, this word play likely doesn’t change that view.
Written by Kristi DesJarlais, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Houston at Saxum