10 posts categorized "Strategy"

February 06, 2005

Frameshop: Elevator Speech

elevatorSTRATEGY - To control debate, start with your Elevator Speech.

PROBLEM - Most Progressives know what they believe, but cannot say it clearly and quickly.

SOLUTION - Build a sentence stating what Progressives believe. Memorize and repeat it.

FRAMESHOP ELEVATOR SPEECH - "We believe in prosperity and opportunity, strong communities, great schools, investing in our future, and leading the world by example."

TODAY IN FRAMESHOP - Learn how to build an elevator speech.

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February 01, 2005

Frameshop: Social

PROBLEM - Americans believe that Social Security is a "social" program. If we open with a point about Social Security as a "base" or "insurance" we are using the metaphors of a "building" or a "financial product" to explain to the public what Social Security is.

ANALYSIS - Since Social Security is an abstract concept, we must explain it in terms of something that is concrete. The Republicans have chosen to talk about Social Security as a "floor" that we stand on and as an "account" that's dwindling. These two metaphors are impersonal and do not push the "social" aspect of Social Security that Americans uphold.

SOLUTION - Use a metaphor that is social to explain Social Security. The most basic social metaphor is "a group of people standing together." From there we can talk about "Americans standing together" and "Social Security standing with us." These are powerful images because they emphasize the core values of unity and strength. When we use the metaphor of "a group of people standing together" then we are able to talk about Social Security protecting American prosperity by being there for people who would otherwise stand alone. We can then criticize the Republicans for believing that Americans are greedy and selfish, and for trying to convince Americans us that we are better off if we are forced to fend for ourselves.

Frameshop is open...

January 30, 2005

Frameshop: The Path

STRATEGY - To be more effective in political debate, understand the tactics that the Bush White House uses.

TODAY'S "BUSH TACTIC" - The "Path" Metaphor

HOW IT WORKS - Bush starts with a policy that he knows violates public trust or has no popular support (e.g., invading Iraq, killing Social Security). Bush deceives the public into supporting the policy by making up something good or bad that you say will happen "down the path" (e.g., war:democracy in Iraq, patriot act:nuclear attacks in cities, end Social Security:bankruptcy). Anyone who disagrees, accuse them of not having the "courage" or "vision" to "confront" or "believe in" what's "up ahead."

ozWHY IT IS EFFECTIVE - Bush uses the path metaphor to link the real present to a made-up future. Radical, destructive policies are only a problem if the public thinks about them in terms of actual events. But if the public thinks about them in terms of the Bush imaginary future, they're not so radical. Change Social Security? Better to change it now than have bankruptcy up ahead. American soldiers dying in Iraq everyday? Better that they die now than the whole world is taken over by terrorists down the road. Torture our prisoners? Better to torture them now than stay on the path towards a nuclear bomb exploding in Dallas.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT - (1) Set people on the real path. Displace Bush's made-up future with actual consequences of the present course. (2) Recast the issues through metaphors that evoke American values (e.g. unity and strength as standing together).

Frameshop is open...

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Frameshop: Magic Words

PROBLEM - The Bush White House controls debate by repeating "magic words" that push Neo-Con frames and ideas. Unless Americans can spot these "magic words" are, it is hard to avoid repeating them.

STRATEGY - Learn how to spot Neo-con "magic words."

TODAY'S "BUSH TACTIC" - Launch Magic Words Before Bush Speaks

HOW IT WORKS - Most people assume that Neo-Con PR campaigns begin with the "talking points" presented in a speech by the President. Not true. Before Bush speaks, the White House always, always circulates "magic words" to media outlets and Bush followers. In a coordinated launch, members of the Bush inner circle then use these "magic words" in multiple media interviews. When the President finally speaks, his followers hear the "magic words" and repeat, repeat, repeat. As the sound of these "magic words" grows, the rest of the public begins repeating these words, too.

WHY IT IS EFFECTIVE - The repetition of the "magic" words begins long before the official public launch of the ideas. The "magic words" are already familiar when Bush says them for the first time.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT - (1) Anticipate that all Bush White House policies are launched with "magic words." (2) Read multiple news sources looking for repetition of problem words and phrases. (3) Redefine the"magic words" before the President speaks them.

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January 28, 2005

Frameshop: PC

CALL TO ACTION - The following phrase is often used by Republicans to turn the public against Progressives and to control political debate:

politically correct (PC)

Take control of this phrase by understanding how it works and redefining it in Progressive terms.

burnKEY - Neo-Cons use "PC" to cast Progressives as a sinister "movement" leading America down the path to totalitarianism. When they say "PC movement" it reminds Americans of other dangerous movements (e.g. Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Terrorism, etc.). This leads people to respond with the thought that "PC" must be stopped, is dangerous. This is deceptive because it masks the real problem: Republicans using PC as a rallying cry for the censorship and intimidation of teachers.

SOLUTION - Think big. Hit first: (1) State a list defining "PC" in Progressive terms: "Yes I'm PC! I stand for Protecting the Constitution, Positive Change, Preventing Crime, Providing for Children, Pro Choice, Pro Community..." (2) Re-Focus "PC" so that it labels Republicans as they are acting right now: Puritan Crusaders, President's Cult.

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January 16, 2005

Frameshop: The 5 Steps

Framing the political debate is not just about making up new words. But how is it done?

Framing in Five Steps:

  1. Stop Repeating Their Words
  2. Go to Another Frame
  3. Build a New Frame
  4. Break it Down
  5. Repeat Our Words

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January 11, 2005

Frameshop: Repetition

Frameshop has empowered a core group to question political language and think about values, message, and metaphor. All good things. But the first principle of framing-- repetition--needs more attention. Everybody loves framing and as such, more of us need to think about the importance of repetition. Without repeition, framing is play. It's important, powerful, analytical play--play with consequences. But to change debate, to force response, there needs to be repetition.

So, how best to get over this hurdle? Let's take a look at how it works for the opposition.

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January 10, 2005

Frameshop: The Knockout Punch

Most of what I read about framing has difficulty getting past the idea of the response. If they say this, how should we respond? It's definitely a great place to begin. Thinking about how we respond to the opposition's language is a good first step to seeing how they set their frame and how it controls the political landscape of ideas. There have been many great discussions as a result. And yet, whether or not it is actually possible to take control of political debate simply by responding to your opponent's terms is a question that is not discussed often enough. Is the knockout punch possible?

In a word: no. This idea of winning with one fatal blow is less an act of framing than the result of our honest and understandable desire for a quick and dramatic win. The real key to winning is not landing a knockout punch, but walking out of their ring and into our own game.

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January 05, 2005

Frameshop: The Feldman Diaries

Prior to Frameshop I wrote a series of short essays on the concept of framing. These essays focused largely on George Lakoff's book Don't Think of an Elephant and had the intention of making Lakoff's fascinating ideas about political debate more accessible to a broad audience.

Working with DogFight04 as a publisher, these essays were made available as an eBook called The Feldman Diaries in preparation for the January 5 MeetUp sessions promoted by Howard Dean's Democracy for America and held in just about every state in the country.

Many thanks to DogFight04 for collaborating on this project.

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January 01, 2005

Frameshop: Mission Statement


"Repair political debate in this country"

It's that simple, really. Political debate is waged through language, media and the power to control them. Debate is hugely important part of the political process. Frameshop is a place to bring political debate for a "tune up," a service station where the language we use is hoisted up and repaired. Most people don't realize until it's too late that the language they use in political debate requires regular maintenance. At Frameshop, we tune up all language used in debate from the mildly neglected word to the dangerously deceptive key phrase. Best of all, Frameshop is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just look for the "open" sign.

Frameshop is open...

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