Georgia10's recent front page post
leads with, "The GOP is weak, without message, out of ideas,
and steeped in corruption." (emphasis mine)
We also still hear from the right: "Liberals have no ideas"....
We rarely hear journalists, pundits or even our own elected officials counter that false statement. (And we rarely hear them say the right has no ideas, though it does happen.)
Simply saying one side or the other has no ideas is fairly weak, but it seems effective on some level (the Ragin' Cajuns focus groups have indicated as much with participants saying they think Democrats don't have any ideas).
"The left has no ideas."
This right-wing frame hold several inferences, including:
- The right does have ideas
- The left is rudderless, idealess
- And (stretching farther) conservatives are smarter than liberals
How to do we reframe on the "no ideas" front?
First, as we know from Prof. Lakoff's work on cognitive linguistics, simply denying a frame does not counter it. Rather, any countering tactics can end up (1) reinforcing the frame even in denial and (2) distract from our own issues and keep us tied up in the right's rhetoric (rather than engaging in debates we would rather pursue).
Second, instead of denying or countering a frame Dr. Lakoff believes we need to reframe, to bring the topic back to a liberal point of view and move the discussion back onto our turf.
It's not enough to say "Yes, we do" (though I think that's part of it).
It's not enough to say "The right is out of ideas" (though I think that's close).
Rather, I think we need to begin telling anyone who will listen (our elected leaders, our local papers/tv/radio/blogs, folks by the water cooler and standing in coffee shop lines, etc)....
"We've tried the conservative ideas for over a decade now. From Iraq, to education, to Katrina, to healthcare and more the conservative ideas have all failed America."
Conservative ideas have failed. We've tried them, the right failed.
Repeat. Again. And again.
(And if you have time, throw in a line like "And just because conservatives want to ignore progressive ideas doesn't mean they don't exist. In fact, from Social Security and FDR to economic policy and Clinton we know progressive ideas work better than conservative ideas.")
Discuss. (And feel free to shorten my overwordiness.)
UPDATE: Based on a comment, I wanted to point out that the word "fail" is the key frame. "Conservatives' ideas have failed America." They have ideas, sure, it's just that their ideas are failures and real, hard-working Americans end up on the short end of the stick whereas the progressives' ideas have clearly worked and worked well for Americans over the past century. (Feel free to launch into examples of how conservatives' ideas promote selfishness, greed, lack of compassion, etc.)