Live blogging my first DNC event was fun and informative. I learned far more than I can possibly relay in writing and I am grateful to the wonderful staff of the DNC for being excellent hosts. Being in the same...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 02/05/2007

Live blogging my first DNC event was fun and informative.  I learned far more than I can possibly relay in writing and I am grateful to the wonderful staff of the DNC for being excellent hosts.  Being in the same large room with multiple candidates, shaking their hands, interacting with their staff, eating their popcorn--the speed with which one develops a sense for the differences and similarities between the candidates is astounding. 

This brings me to the heart of the matter--what I will put out as the first of many Frameshop Forecasts to come in the months ahead:


The Democratic candidate who wins the 2008 nomination for President will not be the candidate who simply puts forward the best policy proposal on Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or any other individual military issue.  The candidate who wins will be the candidate who reframes the entire debate on national security in progressive terms--the candidate who steps up and liberates the country from the destructive logic of the propaganda frame that President Bush calls "The War on Terror."

Simply put:  I did not hear anything in the DNC candidate speeches this weekend that resembled an alternative to the "War on Terror" frame for national security.  Not one Democratic candidate standing for President offered an alternative to Bush's dangerously insane Neo-Con frame.  Instead of progressive framing, we heard a series of compelling and thoughtful policy statements against escalation, for withdrawal, for diplomacy.  All of these policy statements were important, all appreciated, all worthy in their own way of support, but none took that crucial step of reframing the entire debate on national security in progressive terms.

And while I was very, very impressed--even moved at times--with many of our candidates, I walked away with a keen sense of this core weakness in the entire field.

It is not enough for Democratic candidates for President to offer alternative proposals on individual policies in the Middle East.  It is not enough.  To win in 2008, the Democratic candidate must frame the debate on national security.

But I will also add that reframing national security in progressive terms will not just spring out of a candidate's head fully formed.  A new frame must be built by a team assembled and charged with this specific task in mind.

And so my advice to our candidates is for each of you to immediately put together a diverse team charged with this single, difficult task of reframing national security.  Assemble a team right now, not after the primaries when it is too late. 

How can this be done?  How does a candidate's team go about reframing the "War on Terror" effectively?  This is a difficult question, and one that can only truly be answered by doing, not in the abstract.

I can, however, describe what will happen once the debate has been reframed.

"War on Terror" Will Be Replaced By A New Phrase/Idea

First off, the big key difference will be that the debate on national security will no longer be dominated by the phrase "War on Terror."    The Democratic candidate who wins the 2008 nomination will have moved debate on national security completely away from the phrase "War on Terror."

The media will begin to use the new alternative phrasing and discuss the merits of the new idea.  The White House and the Republicans in Congress will also start to use the new language, comparing the new frame to the "War on Terror" frame at first, but then ultimately--after the 2008 Democratic Convention--dropping the "War on Terror" language and logic entirely to engage the new frame.

Activists will use the new frame in their canvasing,  phone banking and training sessions.  Voters will stop using the phrase and logic of "War on Terror" in their conversations at work, in the car, and at the kitchen table.  The new logic will dominate the everyday thinking of the entire country on national security--from the halls of government, to the most private spaces of individual households.

Policy Proposals Will Unfold Relative To The New Idea and Logic

Once a Democratic candidate for President has successfully built and advanced a new framing for national security, policy proposals to win the "War on Terror" will vanish to be replaced by proposals that advance the goals set out by the new frame.  Policy experts will cease talking about the competence  or failures of the Bush administration to successfully fight the "War on Terror" and will instead focus entirely on the elaborating the specifics and details of the new frame.

Experts in national security will begin to debate the merits and shortcomings of the specific policy proposals.  An initial round of policy essays and books will emerge just prior to the 2008 election.  A new class of experts and pundits will begin to circulate, becoming familiar to the general public by virtue of their interpretations of specific policies.  New faces associated with the new frame will begin to dominate the media discussions on national security. 

Local Politics Will Begin To Use The New Frame

Once the new frame for national security has been built and advanced by the Democratic candidate for President, state, county and city level politics will shift entirely to this new frame.  Local races will be defined by candidates who are for or against competing policy issues within this new national security frame. 

Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike in local races will compete for support based on support for policies that make sense within the new progressive national security frame. 

When races are won or lost by new local candidates, voters interviewed by local media will say that they made their decision based on the candidates' policies within the new national security frame.

Bloggers Will Use The Language of the New Frame

Once the new frame for national security has been built and advanced by the Democratic candidate for President, bloggers will use the language and logic of the new frame.

Blogger debates on national security policies will unfold in the logic of the new frame.  Individual bloggers with expertise in national security will emerge with popularity on large group blogs using the logic of the new frame.  Individual blogs specifically writing in policy terms advancing the logic of the new frame will become new and noteworthy.

Bloggers will began to form allegiances with candidates based on the candidates positions relative to the new national security frame.  Concerns for candidates policy proposals developed in the old frame will no longer be important. 

Bloggers writing solely in old frame  logic and language will no longer attract large readership.

The Democratic Candidate Will Win the 2008 Presidential Debates
Once the new frame fro national security has been built and advanced by the Democratic candidate for President, the debates against the Republican candidate will lean clearly in our favor.

The Republican candidate will develop a certain facility with the new frame, but will not be able to operate and think with the same agility and strength. 

Televised debates will show the Democratic candidate as the clear choice on issues of national security, and the new frame will also lend credibility to other areas of the Democratic Party platform.  Progressive domestic agendas will make more sense because of the new progressive framing of national security. 

The Democratic Candidate Will Win the 2008 Presidential Election
Having successfully reframed the debate on national security, the Democratic candidate will beat the Republican candidate to win the 2008 election.  The vote may be split in some states, but the election will not be a contested race as it was on the last few cycles.  Instead, the new frame will have made it clear that the Democrats were able to move the country past the fraudulent and immoral policies of the old Republican frame, and that the immediate future well-being of the United States rested with Democratic leadership in the White House. 

New Era of U.S. and Global Safety and Security Unfolds
From 2009 to 2016, the Democratic majority in the Congress and the White House advance new national security policy set out by the framing developed during the 2008 presidential campaigns. These policies make steady success and are improved where setbacks are encountered.  More importantly, the new policies prove worthy through a series of national security tests that unfold during this period.

Regional stability, economic development and adherence to human rights develops in those parts of the world currently deemed to be dangerous and unstable in the old Republican national security frames. 

Build It
If any class of Democratic Presidential hopefuls has the resources and the skills to build a new frame on national security it is the class before us right now. 

This is an amazing, experienced, talented, thoughtful, and inspiring set of candidates--each in their own way.  But the one candidate who truly distinguishes him or herself over the next 6 to 18 months will be the candidate who chooses to step beyond proposing individual policy shifts and steps up to take responsibility for framing the debate on national security in entirely new, progressive terms.

To that candidate--to those candidates--I say:  Get to work right now building that frame.  Assemble your team.  Get to work.

Built it.

© 2007 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2007, Frameshop

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