Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fighting the Frame

During my workout tonight, I was watching the post game action of the recent Republican debate on what I consider to be the best of the worst (MSNBC). They were spinning and talking about Rudi this, or Mitt that, or that Freddie didn't drool. And they spun doctored who was the most optimistic, the most hopeful, because Americans want that.

And through all that chit chat, I was reminded of something we were talking about over the weekend.

Of all the institutions that are failing us right now, perhaps the press is the most important. For it is the fourth estate that frames the issues. The term goes back at least to Thomas Carlyle in the first half of the 19th century.

Novelist Jeffrey Archer in his work "The Fourth Estate" made this observation: "In May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estate General'. The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners.

Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"

And indeed they are.

I watched as Ron Paul was utterly marginalized even though he has actually raised some money. That is a pretty good story in itself.

I watched as McCain and all the rest talked of more fear and more war.

Yet the questions from the press were their usual lame attempts to be provocative and to some degree sensational. But far more importantly, these lame questions were used to create a frame. And it is that frame that creates and controls the play of words and ideas.

We all know what it means to be framed.

Something is made to look different than it really is.

According to George Lakoff in the Preface to his Thinking Points,

America today is in danger. It faces th threat of domination by a radical, authoritarian right wing that refers to itself as "conservative" as if it were preserving and promoting American values.

In fact, it is trampling on them.

American values are inherently progressive, but progressives have lost their way. (clip)

We have lost hold of the terms of political debate, and even ceded the language of progressive ideals--like freedom and liberty--to redefinition by an extremist right wing.

Lakoff offers his progressive thinking points as a manual for progressive action and as a mechanism to reframe the now crippled and somewhat paralyzed public debate.

As John Blades of Move On says “In Thinking Points, George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute show how Progressives can stop appealing to some hypothetical "middle" and instead appeal to the deep morality that the vast majority of Americans share. When we speak from our hearts, the integrity of this will speak broadly.”

But, how can we craft the progressive vision when a right wing frame is in place?

We need to create a new frame.

We need to replace all of those so called professionals who ingratiate themselves in the "Palace of White and Black lies" with scientists, and doctors, and waitresses and doormen. These Palace pawns are no longer effective agents for the public as long as they must prostrate themselves to get the next question, to get the next tip, the next special interview.

So, let's not march against the government, instead, let's craft an effective campaign against the Estate that is actually failing us. Let's block their doors and boycott their papers. Let's insist that they ask the questions that should be asked.

Of course, we won't march, and we won't craft such a plan.

John McCain said the Iran invasion question given to the candidates tonight might not be to far off in the future.

Maybe we will march and craft a plan for the future of man then.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember that perfect love casts out fear. Love is the frame. Love one another. God does; so should we. Love is not a suggestion. Love is a commandment. Love cares as much for others as it does for oneself but it also cares for oneself. Cast out fear. Love.

11:50 AM  

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