Friday, March 25, 2005

050209 Progressive Posting

I’ve found my holy grail. Ever since 11/2/2004, I’ve been on a quest to understand why we were unsuccessful in convincing the country that Georgie was a blight on the country, and that Progressives offer a vastly superior solution. The quest is not only to understand what went wrong, but what we need to do to go forward, and in a way that I personally can impact.

I have kept up with several progressive groups, online and in person, including MoveOn, the DNC & Kerry mailings,, the 48% Group, the PDD (Progressive Democrats of Delaware), DARD (Delaware Alliance to Restore Democracy), the Delaware Democratic Party, the Green Party of Delaware, Green Delaware, Pacem in Terris, ……. I have summarized many of these and have provided pointers to their sites and/or contact folks.

Home at last … The Progressive Democrats of Delaware have held two workshops on framing, an area of political study popularized by George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant book. Last week Jeffrey Feldman came to lead a workshop. OH MY GOD. I am deeply hooked. I participated in a session at our church ( two days later on framing and found that it is taking hold in me.

Progressives Can Speak Morals. Feldman has a website (WRITE THIS DOWN), Do not lose this site, bookmark it, visit is regularly. Regardless of your political persuasion (yes, even conservatives) can learn an awful lot at this site on how to communicate your ideals to others. I consider Feldman a genius at taking the ‘egghead’ theories of Lakoff at putting this into action. Just recently he reviewed a recent speech by John Edwards on Progressive Ideals. I posted a note that Edwards does such a wonderful job of explaining how Progressives seek to extend a hand to all Americans, we should note that Conservatives instead with to extend a finger to average Americans.

Framing is Key—Without framing (using Lakoff and/or Feldman), you will be unable to sway mainstream voters. I believe this VERY STRONGLY. I will no longer provide ‘clearing house’ information on the other progressive groups in the area (look to my 12/21/2004 and 1/5/2005 updates for emails & links, or contact me if you can’t find them). I urge you to find the one or two that meet your needs and get connected to them, but to get their information directly from them, not from me. Instead, in these emails I will begin to provide lessons and hints for ‘how to talk with conservatives’, ‘how to talk your values’.

The facts alone will not sway undecided and conservative voters, we learned this on 11/2/04. Facts don’t create a bridge to ‘them’, common ideals do. Facts can create moats, while ideals & frames create bridges. Progressives have been chronically incapable of speaking our ideals (although John Edwards did a wonderful job on the 5th (in a speech I call Progressives offer a Handshake, while Conservatives offer us the Finger).

The FrameShopIsOpen site offers us tools to effectively respond to questions on Social Security, Iraq, Tort Reform, Education, the Environment, Reproductive Choice, … It offers an Elevator Speech. To effectively turn the tide, progressives need to unify our message, and permanently rise above the fact-only level. By communicating our ideals, we get consensus. Only then do we move onto the steps of exploring policies. I recommend that you first read the Lakoff book, which has fundamental background, but is too theoretical to be ‘it’ for me. I find that the FrameShopIsOpen site provides 100% practical guidance. It is my Holy Grail.

I urge you to explore the site, find one or two key issues that tug at you, and see how Feldman suggests you communicate your values about that issue. Practice this to the point where you can effectively have a dialog on the issue with others, and more effectively write letters to the editors and legislators. Check it regularly for updates, for comments from viewers, to get refreshed. I met with several colleagues on Friday night, several of whom are arch-conservatives. I had ‘boned up’ on the FrameShop’s approach to discussing Social Security, and was far more effective in heading off the crap that was flung around.

I list a very recent passage from the site on the issue of freedom of speech for university professors:

Frameshop: Slur Prof

ALERT - The Constitution of the United States is under attack by the Republican Party, most recently using this phrase:

slur prof

ANALYSIS - The goal of these attacks is to silence dissent against the Bush White House. The only impediment to achieving this goal is the First Amendment. The attacks on professors are designed to lure Progressives into the media to "defend" anti-American statements, thereby turning the public against the right to free expression.

STRATEGY - Do not take the bait! Instead, take the lead in these discussions by stealing the ball: "The problem is not college professors with unpopular opinions, but Republican legislators who trample the Constitution. Americans are united against the return of McCarthyism. Freedom to speak out against our government is not just a right, it is the defining feature of America."

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