[ Just like talking about the weather,
everyone talks about Re-Framing the Debate,
But hardly anyone does anything about it!
I think that this is largely to due lack of understanding
about what 'Framing the Debate' really means ...
Well, here are some of the key principles of 'Framing the Debate',
as explained by George Lakoff, Berkeley professor, a cognitive linguist: ]
WFAA.com Dallas/Fort Worth
Democrats realizing the war that wins votes is one of words
May 20, 2007
AUSTIN – It's an article of faith among many Democrats
that the party has a language problem.
Republicans do a better job pressing their agenda
in crisp, winnable sound bites.
They say "death tax" and accuse opponents of being
"weak on terror" and "not supporting the troops."
So when Democrats gathered last week amid
swelling hopes of winning back the White House in 2008,
the guest of honor was George Lakoff, language wizard.
"A very interesting thing happened last week,"
Mr. Lakoff announced. "John Edwards actually
got up in public, on national TV,
and said, 'Don't use "war on terror." It's a bad metaphor.' "
Mr. Lakoff is a Berkeley professor,
a cognitive linguist, and, lately,
adviser to the stars in the Democratic Party
on how to talk to voters in ways that win elections.
"Barack Obama has a very interesting strategy,
and it's working like crazy," he said.
"He's a progressive and he never uses the word.
He talks about American values.
Democrats don't need to move right, he instructed.
They just need to talk in a different way to reach conservatives.
"They love the land as much as any environmentalist,
but they never call themselves an environmentalist," he said.
"Framing" is more than words, it's context, he said.
Seizing the life issue, for example.
Health care, clean air, decent housing,
Social Security "are life issues," he said.
"These are not unrelated.
They form umbrellas of issues
and what you want to do is
go to the public with this umbrella in favor of life."
Mr. Lakoff believes Democrats missed a big opportunity
four years ago when President Bush declared
"mission accomplished" on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
"At that moment, he ceased becoming a war president
and became an occupation president," he said.
"But nobody said it."
Increasing troops in Iraq is not a "surge"
but an "escalation."
Describe the war as a "betrayal of trust."
And it even extends to what you call
the technique itself. Practitioners cringe at the term "spin."
"Framing is not spin," said longtime Texas political
operative Glenn Smith. "It simply refers to
the use of language that makes sense to voters
because it speaks to their values.
It is an antidote to spin."
He turned to Hillary Rodham Clinton,
the party's frontrunner for president.
One narrative is that she's calculating,
another that she's accomplished.
It all depends on who does the framing.
UC Berkeley News
27 October 2003
Framing the issues: UC Berkeley professor
George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics
By Bonnie Azab Powell, NewsCenter |
Language always comes with what is called "framing."
Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework.
If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt,"
you get a metaphorical meaning saying that
the voters are the oppressed people,
the governor is the oppressive ruler,
that they have ousted him and
this is a good thing and all things are good now.
All of that comes up when you see a headline
like "voter revolt" — something that most people
read and never notice.
Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing?
Because they've put billions of dollars into it.
Over the last 30 years their think tanks
have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language.
...They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973,
and the Manhattan Institute after that.
And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich,
who started the Heritage Foundation, they have
1,500 conservative radio talk show hosts.
They have a huge, very good operation,
and they understand their own moral system.
The phrase "Tax relief" began coming out of the White House
starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration.
It got picked up by the newspapers
as if it were a neutral term, which it is not.
... So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor
that taxation is an affliction,
and anybody against relieving this affliction
is a villain.
So what should they be calling it?
It's not just about what you call it,
if it's the same "it."
There's actually a whole other way
to think about it.
Taxes are what you pay to be an American,
to live in a civilized society
that is democratic and offers opportunity,
and where there's an infrastructure
that has been paid for by previous taxpayers.
Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American.
So taxes could be framed as an issue of patriotism.
It is an issue of patriotism!
Are you paying your dues, or
are you trying to get something for free
at the expense of your country?
Every Democratic senator and all of their aides
and every candidate would have to learn how to talk
about it that way. There would have to be a manual.
Republicans have one. They have a guy named Frank Luntz,
who puts out a 500-page manual every year
that goes issue by issue on what
the logic of the position is from the Republican side,
what the other guys' logic is, how to attack it,
and what language to use.
Do any of the Democratic Presidential candidates
grasp the importance of framing?
None. They don't get it at all.
But they're in a funny position.
The framing changes that have to be made
are long-term changes. The conservatives
understood this in 1973. By 1980 they had
a candidate, Ronald Reagan, who could take
all this stuff and run with it.
[... as of October 2003, when Lakoff said this:]
The progressives don't have a candidate now
who understands these things and
can talk about them. And in order
for a candidate to be able to talk about them,
the ideas have to be out there.
You have to be able to reference them in a sound bite.
People vote their identity,
they don't just vote on the issues,
and Democrats don't understand that.
Look at Schwarzenegger, who says nothing
about the issues. The Democrats ask,
How could anyone vote for this guy?
They did because he put forth an identity.
Voters knew who he is.
So to summarize, here are some of the Key Points of 'Framing the Debate'
1) Framing is more than words, it's context.
2) Framing is not spin,
it's using language that makes sense to voters --
because it speaks to their values.
3) Framing is an antidote to spin.
4) Framing is about putting words in new contexts:
when you add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor
that implies 'taxation is an affliction'
5) But you can change the context of a media Frame,
simply by 'looking at it from the other way'
"Paying taxes" can be re-framed as a "patriotic duty" of every American,
instead of an "affliction to be avoided",
from which we need "relief"
6) People vote for that with which they identify,
they don't just vote on the issues.
What Voters want to know about Candidates,
is "Who they are?",
NOT just "what they think about the issues."
So let's apply a few of these concepts.
let's see how easy it is to Re-Frame
some of the Media's shop-worn metaphors:
This Global War on Terror, has resulted in More Terrorists, NOT Less.
On holding prisoners as 'suspected enemy combatants':
When we hold suspected prisoners, for years without filing charges,
without allowing them access to lawyers, or to their families --
How is that different from a 3rd world nation, who does the same thing,
and we call those prisoners 'The Disappeared' ?
On 'fair play' and respect for the military:
When the 'home team' moves 'the Goalposts' in the middle of a game,
most would call that cheating, and 'out of bounds' --
But when the Pentagon does it time and time again
to the 'tours of duty' of so many Brave soldiers,
Why do we still call that 'supporting the troops' ?
On human rights:
When government officials constantly put the values of 'corporate rights'
over and above the value of 'human rights' of the citizens they supposedly represent, there is something terribly wrong with the "track this country is on"
So there's a few New Frames!
I'm sure with all the smart, compassionate people,
who participate at Daily KOS, there a few more
New Media Frames, just waiting to be created.
SO have at it, let's start Re-framing those Debatable 'talking points'
that the MSM is SO fond of: