Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Jerome's issues should be pushed forward pretty fast, but they can't be done immediately. The problem is to bring certain understanding to people. But that can't be done with a few one-liner calls. One-liners are effective only when a suitable frame of understanding already exists. Then they "nicely" refer and reinforce the understanding.

That brings us to the work of Lakoff on framing. He rightly noticed that the current political circumstances in the USA are determined by the Republican control of basic political references (to freedom, security, taxes, economy, even ethics). Theirs is indeed the political frame we have to start from now.

Although Lakoff's hypotheses and suggestions may seem very universal, if not philosophical, they address a very practical problem for progressive politics. What we basically have here, is a disbalance in the political evolution, where one side (conservatives, or rather Republicans) have build up an infrastructure (think tanks, the media) for developing and promoting their political frame, while the other side (Democrats, or progressives) were happless even to realize what is going on. The Democratic party lacked basic skills to follow, control or counter the conservative framing. By now, they may have learned to come up with one-liner zingers and 30 s add messages. But this sound-byte culture itself is tilted strongly against the Democrats, since they had developed much less of coherent political frame to refer to with "effective" soundbytes. That is why it takes Kerry just a few words to make Republican supporters dance, while much more to make himself clear to more people (if he even tries that).

One thing to realize is that it takes time and work to build a strong political frame. Republicans worked on their message infrastructure at least from the failed candidacy of Barry Goldwater. They work was already well advanced by the time of Reagan. Democrats should not expect that they can fix their situation fast and with a few "solid" ready-to-use measures. (Yeah, Republicans are imploding due to overreach now. That should be smartly used by Dems, but they should not stop by that. Hell, Dems can't actually stop, since they did not really start moving yet.) Democrats should have a vision of the frame they want people to have, and start working towards that frame right now. For the time being, they should also oppose smartly the soundbyte culture, by not being afraid to expain themselves more thoroughly. (In nature, you not only adopt yourself. You may influence and adopt the environment as well.)

Thus, regarding the particular issue of gas taxes, Dems should not rush with declarations right now, especially this last week before elections. But they should start working towards public understanding of certain climate and economic pressures sooner rather than later. For these few days, most Democratic candidates may rather concentrate on their own local races indeed. But it would be nice if someone would mildly acknowledge the concerns of climate change and economy of fossil fuels, while so many are listening. It is not necessary to propose measures - it can be acknowledged that no measures are being prepared yet. We just need to raise concern of people right now - and from that much can follow.

by das monde on Fri Nov 3rd, 2006 at 01:25:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series