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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:30 PM
Original message
Dean, Lakoff and an alternate use of framing
So I finally gave into the hype and read Don't think of An Elephant by George Lakoff. It was a good book and he made some great points. I usually prefer the writings of movement leaders and activists over those who are purely academics, but Lakoff's ideas are still useful in a practical setting.

I know a lot of Dean supporters rave about the book, including Dean himself, and it helped me better understand the Dean phenomenon. Dean realized how to use frames effective to get a wide base of support during the primary.

Dean realized that many Democratic primary voters are more liberal than he is, but by using frames effectively he could still get their support. For example, by attacking the moderate, DLC, Bush-lite wing of the Democratic Party he created a frame that casts him as the liberal alternative. He didn't need to say or do anything to indicate that he actually is a liberal, because people would assume he was in context of the frame he created.
Likewise, he used language and frames that liberals might use like "I'm from the democratic wing of the Democratic Party" which was an old Paul Wellstone line. By using the right language and frames he could gain the initial support of progressives and liberals without really taking a progressive stand on the issues. The effects of that framing continue to this day. I still see articles, commentators and Dean supporters refer to him as progressive or liberal, despite Dean's failure to explicitly claim he is either of those things. Dean is a moderate but the frame is more powerful than the facts.

He did this with civil unions as well. Dean created the frame that cast him as the courageous defender of civil unions as Governor of Vermont. The fact that he was merely doing what had been required by the Vermont courts and that he didn't even support a national civil union or gay marriage law as a Presidential candidate bounced of the frame he created. The frame was more powerful than the facts once it was created.

Of course it is easier to keep someone's support after you have it initially. Some people found out Dean wasn't as liberal as they first thought and switched to another candidate. Many others realized he wasn't as liberal as they first thought and decided that he was still the best choice for a variety of reasons. Other moderates in the race who didn't use liberal frames and language had a much harder time getting support from the left than Dean did.

The same thing is happening with the DNC chair election. A frame has been created that casts Dean as the populist defender of grass-roots Democrats trying to take back control of their party. Never mind the fact that Dean's proposals are hardly different than several other people running for DNC Chair and that he took a lot of corporate money, just like anyone else, during his Presidential campaign. Dean has frames on his side, so he doesn't have to actually demonstrate specifically what he would do differently as chair. He only has to use populist language about taking back the party and giving it to the grass roots. He has frames on his side.
I also better understand why the Dean campaign worked so hard to play up the hype about their Internet organization and got so many articles in the media about it. Other campaigns, especially the Draft Clark movement, were using the Internet effectively as well, but the Dean campaign made the best use of framing their Internet activists as a grass-roots movement against the establishment. So, Dean doesn't have to be any different than that establishment, he just has to sound different.

Lakoff's focus in the book is on how Democrats can get support from moderate swing voters and Republicans. The ideas can be used by the middle to get support from the left as well.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. The thing about poltics is we dont neccessarily need a progressive
in office. It certainly would help, but if Dean gets to power through courting progressive support, that will give us power over him, a power we dont currently have because few politicians even try to court our support.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. On a non off topic note.
Its very interesting, we really do need to fix the problem so that facts matter more than framing.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. I would love to see that happen
I'm not sure how to bring that about or if it can even be done.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
14. We have to do both
Edited on Sat Jan-29-05 03:56 PM by ultraist
There is no way to avoid the fact that many Americans buy into the PR, the marketing campaign and framing is a big part of this PR.

There will always be a large segment of the population that bases their vote on the ads, not the facts. But, as Chomsky stated in the article someone posted on another thread (I linked it above), there is a lot of opportunity to educate voters, and we should do this.
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Rockerdem Donating Member (706 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 05:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
21. Isnt it funny that some people think the cure-all is spin
They are not confident of their product so they package it in gloss that is somewhat blinding.

What really is needed is a truthful liberal, 100% all of the time. Instead of those who idolize Roveian techniques.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Who thinks the cure all is spin?
It's not the cure all but it is an unavoidable fact that a large segment of the population will remain uneducated when it comes to politics and will vote based on what they see through the marketing campaign, the spin. It may be an ugly fact, but it's one that needs to be faced.

We need to both educate voters and devise a good marketing campaign or we will lose again and again. That is simply the reality we face. Eutopia we are not!
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Rockerdem Donating Member (706 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:10 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Taking a crummy shortcut
Liberal Europe attained much of the government that we desire by aggressively presenting the issues squarely and openly. Instead of slinking around the back way.

Americans are hungering for the truth. It has to be fed in small understandable bites, mind you. But not candy coated by some huckster.

Ive hated slickmeisters all my life, no matter what they were pitching. Preachers, TV admen, politicians, I dont care. Be upfront and truthful, and I will listen.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. I'm not at all opposed to educating voters, in fact
Edited on Sat Jan-29-05 06:25 PM by ultraist
we need to do so. There is a lot of unactualized opportunity out there. But, I am being a realist in the sense that I don't expect that our population will become that advanced overnight. It will take decades and even then, there will always be segment of the population that is disaffected and susceptible to marketing.

The quick & easy fix/the soundbite/the disposal society is very ingrained in our culture.

I don't think that the European culture is as much that way as we are. Consider also what percentage of Europeans earn bachelors' degrees. I bet it's higher than in the US which is only around 24%. (It has dropped under Bush).
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Rockerdem Donating Member (706 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #25
27. What another poster said
I dont want to make this a sweeping condemnation, but like another poster said about the claims made in the OP, someone tried to make himself appear what he was not.

(BTW, I dont necessarily agree with the premise of the OP).

Now, making oneself appear to be something that he is not might appeal to a bushbot conservative. But why should that get a liberal Democrats juices flowing? Theres another approach that can be successful. Jimmy Carter got himself elected with it in 76.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. I think I understand you point, but...
Edited on Sat Jan-29-05 07:40 PM by ultraist
Using framing, imagery, and other marketing techniques, does not have to mean that the candidate is making himself/herself into something that they are not. Highlighting strengths & clearly articulating the message help to define the candidate so that the masses can get to know the candidate. Just as with a movie, it can be fact or fiction.

Framing is not dishonest, it's simply a thoughtful construction of the phrase to communicate the idea.

I'm aware that marketing often does employ deceptive practices, but I would not support that. We don't need to lie about our candidates! LOL! ;)
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loyalsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 06:42 AM
Response to Reply #23
36. Maybe you will
but the fact is, we are interested in trying to reach out to a population that resists education!!
Some of these are voters who have fallen for the ban Evolution get sex ed out of the schools movements. Through RW frames, they have been convinced that those things have contributed to the moral downfall of this country. And, they are voting against their own self interests.
It's because "It's The Economy, Stupid" is not a good strategy. Democrats and Republicans are very close on those issues now. The Pubs have drawn lines between the parties in how they frame "moral issues." I would actually call it moral revisionism.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Will it really give us power over him?
Or will it allow the establishment to placate progressives who will go along with whatever Dean suggests?
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
40. Does it give corporations power over politicians?
We have lost sight of the whole point of our system. Votes control politicians jobs, we are thier bosses. The problem is that right now saying corporate things, getting corporate money and running ads gets you more voters than saying liberal things.

We need to build up an infrastructure to reach people that exists both inside and outside the democratic party that can battle, on a grassroots and party politics level for those of us who dont now have a voice.

But we need the infrastructure to reach people, we need to influence votes because votes influence politicians its just that simple.
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. talk about framing
Edited on Sat Jan-29-05 04:00 PM by dsc
Your discussion of his role in civil unions borders on dishonest. First, yes the court did require civil unions but the constitution could have been amended in Vermont, like it had in Hawaii (the first time Hawaii had since statehood), and in Alaska. Both state supreme courts had required the state to afford marriage rights to gays and lesbians and both states amended constitutions to prevent that from happening. That didn't happen in Vermont, thanks in large part to Howard Dean.

Second, according to David Moaks book on Civil Unions (Civil Wars) the pulitzer prize winning Vermont newspaperman states that to a person no one in the Vermont legislature, including its one and only openly gay member (appointed by Dean) felt that the legislature would pass marriage. Civil Unions was the best he could do.

Third, At a piviotal point in the process, Dean forced reluctant Senate Democrats to pass Civil Unions instead of passing off to a commission.

Finally, Dean campaign in 2000, against the advice of political consultants, on his signing of the civil unions legislation. Instead of blaming it on the Supreme Court, as he could have done, he went out and told the state that he did it and why it needed to be done. He went on to narrowly win that race (he needed 50% and got 50.3% in a three way race).

editted to correct name of book.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. That's the first time
Edited on Sat Jan-29-05 03:47 PM by Radical Activist
I've heard anyone suggest he did anything to help the bill before it was passed. I'd like to read about what he did to force Senate Democrats to go along with it if you have a link. I know a lot of people were disappointed that he didn't have a public signing for the bill.

Dean does deserve credit for becoming more publicly vocal about the issue in 2000 when he ran for re-election. I think he gave up any claims to being courageous on the issue when he failed to take the same stand as a Presidential candidate. He said it was an issue that should be left up to the states, just like the other moderates.
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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:59 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. I know of no online source
I read it in the book I sited but it wasn't covered in papers at the time the meeting occured as it was private. I do trust the source though. You can find Civil Wars (sorry I misnamed it in the other post) at any decent book store.
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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #8
18. Read Moat's book.
Aside from the whole thing about Dean, it's incredibly well written and very, very moving.

Dean put his foot down with the dem leaders in Vermont who came to him with a proposal to put off the vote on civil unions for another session. Both men, Shumlin and Sears are more liberal than Dean. They weren't as courageous. According to Shumlin, Dean was furious at the suggestion to table CUs and told them that in public life you don't often have the opportunity to do the right thing and make a big difference. As far as signing the bill in private. Thank God for small blessings. If you weren't here, you can't imagine how ugly things were. If I heard one more person spouting off about abomination and Leviticus, I was going to lose it. (I was very involved in working for Civil Unions) On a plus note, that kind of acrimony has almost completely dissipated. Now, almost 80% of us favor civil unions or gay marriage. I'm proud of us, and I'm proud of how hard Governor Dean worked to help us all come back together. He traveled around the state meeting with people and standing up for civil rights.

Oh, I don't know of a lot of people who were dissapointed that there wasn't a public signing, a few sure, but not a lot. And I live here and worked on the issue.
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liberalnurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. So, tell me what you
really think Dean is going to do as our DNC Chairman. There are some reading between the lines assumption but I prefer to get the message clarified.

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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Not much
I think he'll raise more money for the DNC from his supporters and maybe encourage a few new things. I don't think Dean being DNC chair will be significantly different from anyone else being DNC chair.
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liberalnurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. I think Dean will keep the Party alive.
The current group of Congressional Democrats, not all, but the majority, tend to place their job responsibilities on cruise control.....letting this administration snuff the life out our community issues and rendering Democrats lame.

Dean can and will mobilize "We the People" and ultimately stoke the coals under our flacid Democrats. If we don't get a mobilizing leader at the DNC, the grassroots will be wilted weeds by the time 2006 rolls around.

I don't see Dean just framing the issues for any other reason beyond communicating with the audience.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. You're following the pattern
You used some phrases about taking the party back like we the people. That's framing.

So its your turn, what specifically do you think Dean will do differently as chair to save the party and mobilize the people? Maybe he has some proposals I don't know about.

I think he'll raise more money on the internet and he might use meetups more. At this point there are a lot of people in the party who would do that. I think those things are probably going to happen no matter who is chair since people are going to keep using meetups on their own.
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liberalnurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. It's also communicating ......
expressing one's thought.......Dean will mobilize people, voters and activist. Thats how campaigns are won. He already has a tremendous following.

Here is a snip of his plan:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/features/2005/01/11/...

The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our long term success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by volunteering, going door to door and taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, it alone can no longer win us elections. Offering a new choice means making Democrats the party of reformreforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we meanand mean real change when we say it.

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iamjoy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
7. It Backfired On Dean, Though
because all though he had lots of grass roots support, his image as a radical liberal meant many ditched him for Kerry, some one seen as more moderate and more electable.

Of course, many of us have played the "what if" game for our nominee. My husband and think that had Edwards been at the top of the ticket it would have made a difference, because few voters are really persuaded by the choice of a VP candidate. A VP candidate cannot help win an election other than by giving a sense of assurance (Dubya picking Cheney in 2000 helped because Dubya was seen as inexperienced, but he had the backing of a powerful, experienced Washington insider. His Dad probably would have won in 1988 even if he'd picked Mickey Mouse - which he darn near did).

Maybe Dean would have won by encouraging more people to vote and by not backing away from the Liberal label. I personally think Dean is too divisive, but at least he wouldn't have stood there smiling while they attacked him.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. I agree that
Edwards at the top of the ticket may have made a difference. I think he could have made a bigger difference at VP if he had been used well. Unfortunately I think he was forced to alter his core message and wasn't sent to the places where he could have made the most impact.

I don't think there was much chance of Dean not backing away from the liberal label during the general election. He was already doing that in December of '03.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #10
20. Which is it....is he not liberal and should have backed away from the
label? Or was he trying to fool everyone into thinking he was a liberal....I think you referred to it as stealing the liberal vote under false pretenses.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:03 AM
Response to Reply #20
32. It's the classic primary game
Move left for the primary voters who are more liberal and then move back to the middle for the general election. Dean just made the mistake of trying to move to the middle too early because the thought he had the nomination and the leftie voters all wrapped up. People in Iowa noticed.
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PROGRESSIVE1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
9. ....
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
11. framing and a mass PR campaign are key to winning
check out this Chomsky article:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Lakoff's and Chomsky's ideas can take us to the promised land, I have no doubts. One need only consider how Reagan, Clinton, Bush I and II won.

Dean understands this but takes it a step further by offering an alternative way to PR and do outreach to build our base. There is a lot of fertile ground out there that we haven't tapped.
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Cheswick2.0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
19. Dean is exactly what he is being portrayed as, a populist progressive
You're just mad that actual lefties are supporting and not joining the third party revolution. Sorry, you may have to wait a few more years for the death of the democratic party. You might have Dean to thank for that.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:46 AM
Response to Reply #19
34. Just to clarify
I don't advocate a third party revolution or ending the Democratic Party. I'm simply not content to expend my efforts as a progressive on someone who will talk like a progressive but never deliver on the issues I care about most.
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:13 PM
Response to Original message
24. Really Interesting Thread. I Would Add That Dean Also Gets The Need
to have think tanks and also programs where the Left can train local activists, pols etc.

But you are correct, there are others who see the need to do the same.

And I also agree with another poster who basically said Dean's tacit use of appearing "anti-establishment" ended up biting him in the ass.

Ironic, since it wasn't true.

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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:49 AM
Response to Reply #24
35. I really like what Camp Wellstone is doing along those lines
I hope whoever becomes chair will do something similar or give some support to Camp Wellstone.

And it is odd that a few in the media like Tim Russert still ask if Dean is too liberal. Are they even paying attention?
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liberalnurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 06:32 PM
Response to Original message
26. Plain and simple folks.......
Dean is a Constitutional Democrat.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. Sounds like a populist to me
Populism is the way to go for the Democrats. It simply conveys our values without going right/centrist. A class warfare is the shakedown that could bring the elistist Repukes down.
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liberalnurse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #29
38. Yes!
Thats my goal.......I hope to fulfill it too with Dean at the helm.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 09:40 PM
Response to Reply #29
41. Yes, we do need a populist message
I'm not sure another Ivy League millionaire from New England that rarely takes on corporate interests is the kind of populist that can appeal to the rest of America. In fact, I don't really think that describes a populist at all.
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mandyky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 08:18 PM
Response to Original message
30. To understand the Dean phenomonon one must have an open mind
Dean's DNC winter meeting speech wasn't a matter of framing, or anything like that. Dean had been campaigning and actually listening to people for about a year before that speech. Dean merely voiced Democrats at large's frustration with the pink tutu crowd that gave into shrub at every turn, due to the 2002 midterm elections debacle.

Dean, Sharpton, Moslet- Braun, and Kucinich were the only candidates coming from a conviction based campaign. Graham at least was against the IWR.

Nice try at a backhanded slap at Dean supporters - too bad it doesn't wash.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:01 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. Spending a lot of time
Edited on Sun Jan-30-05 03:10 AM by Radical Activist
listening to people and then delivering that message is also sometimes called pandering and telling people what they want to hear. But apparently not when Dean does it. The difference is a matter of spin and framing.

For example, someone might spend a year in Iowa where there is a strong pacifist tradition and a lot of union members and former union members that used to work at factories that shut down and moved to Mexico. After seeing this one might "re-evaluate" their position on free trade agreements like NAFTA and start emphasizing their opposition to the Iraq war more than they previously had. With other politicians that would be called pandering, but with Dean it means he has backbone. Its an odd double standard.
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w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 03:14 AM
Response to Original message
33. He didn't attack the DLC until they attacked him. He tried to work w/ them
Dean Statement in Response to DLC's Charge that Public Servants are "Fringe Activists"

Once again, the DLC has chosen to put their own political agenda ahead of the progress needed to unite the Democratic Party. This election has barely begun, and the DLC has repeatedly dismissed people who attend caucuses, who get out the vote, and now the 1.3 million members of AFSCME as fringe activists who do not reflect the mainstream values, national pride and the economic aspirations of middle-class and working people.

The DLC staff can say what they want about me, but they owe an apology to the 1.3 million members of AFSCME. Our teachers, our health care workers, and our state and local public servants don't need a lesson from Washington insiders about the needs and concerns of middle- and working-class families. What they need is a Democratic Party that will stand up for them.

Posted by Mathew Gross at 04:27 PM
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000206.html

Tell From and Reed of the DLC What You Think
Click here to sign a letter to the Democratic Leadership Council telling them that you're an active Democrat who supports Howard Dean. You can tell your friends about the link, too: www.deanforamerica.com/DLC

Posted by Mathew Gross at 01:29 AM
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000240.html

Fineman on the DLC Memo
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000213.html

Former DNC-Chief Steve Grossman to DLC: "Creating Conflict is Not Leadership."
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000225.html

Liberal Oasis on Howard Dean and the DLC
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000226.html

Will the Real DLC Please Stand Up?
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000228.html

Congressional Members Call on DLC to Stop Divisive Tactics
http://blog.deanforamerica.com/archives/000238.html

Activists Are Out of Step
By Al From and Bruce Reed
http://www.ndol.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=251866&kaid=8...

The Real Soul of the Democratic Party
By Al From and Bruce Reed
http://www.ndol.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=251690&kaid=1...
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
37. Dean through the lens of Lakoff, IMO:
I haven't read "Don't think...", but I have read Moral Politics. The thing about Dean that I thought made him miss the mark Lakoff sets for Democrats is that Dean was constantly articulating his positions in terms of what he was against.

Dean was tapping into anxiety about Bush by framing all his speeches as this argument: "Bush does X. I'm against X." Dean wasn't really articulating a progressive values framework so much as he was saying that he was against the Republican framework. Had Bush pulled an LBJ and dropped out, it's not clear that Dean would have a good argument for why he should be president.

I believe when Lakoff says that democrats need a progressive values framework first and foremost that he envisions something that isn't defined in terms of the Republican Party. I imagine that it's something that can stan up on its own.

One moment that stands out for me is Dean's Bryant Park speech. In it he says sort of sneeringly after going through a list of the things that Bush does that he doesn't like "they say you have tell people what you're for and not what you're against" as if he doesn't really believe it, and then he lists I believe only two things that he says he's for (home doctors visits for new mothers, and something else, IIRC -- hardly a progressive framework).

Also, Lakoff says that "hope" is the progressive opposite of the conservative's fear-based framework for political discourse.

Although I believe that Dean tried to talk about 'hope,' it was never quite so sincere an emotion as when he was angry. Dean was best with the rolled up sleeves and the baseball bat and the scream.

I don't think the rolled up sleeves, bat and scream are what Lakoff is talking about when he describes progressive "nurturant parent" values.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-30-05 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. There have been a lot of American politicians
who defined themselves by what they were against. Reagan used the government and welfare moms. A lot of southern politicians like Wallace used African-Americans and Yankees. McCarthy used communists. Many of them are called demagogues.

I don't think anger and opposition to something can sustain a movement in the long term. It can be valuable to spark a movement and motivate people to act initially, but eventually you need a positive alternative.

The left has a problem finding things it can unite behind. Lakoff points that out, but I found most of his suggestions for unifying principles to be lacking and uninspiring. The reason I thought Kerry was going to win this election is that George Bush had finally united the left. The left can never agree on one thing to be for in unison, but each faction agreed that it was against Bush for its own reasons. I was surprised that it didn't work.

I think you're right that Dean failed to articulate what he was for, besides being against Republicans and Republican-lites. A lot of DLC Democrats have that problem as well. They don't provide an inspiring alternative other than not being as bad as the Republicans. Kerry had an alternative vision, but I don't think it was communicated frequently or effectively enough to overcome the campaign of fear and prejudice conducted by Bush. There is a very short list of Democrats who can communicate a message of hope and inspire a vision of progress that reaches across to touch people of many backgrounds. I'm always looking to spot more.
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-31-05 01:21 AM
Response to Reply #39
42. Responses to a few of your points:
- Reagan was against gov't, necessarily. He was for the idea that governmentshould be small and unobtrusive. He didn't frame his argument in terms of a complaint without a solution. He framed it in terms of a solution to a problem.

- I think Lakoff's argument isn't that there is not a central overarching progressive argument. In Moral Politics he spends a lot of time describing the progressive argument.

Lakoff's position is that Democrats don't bother tapping into it. He says they'd rather talk about statistics and laundry lists of policy positions than tap into the bigger unified theory of progressivism.

- The reason it wasn't enough for Dems to be united against Bush is because ABB isn't a strong enough argument. It's too easy to unermine if it doesn't really stand for anything much. And that's what happened. ABB worked for a lot of Dems. But when people in the middle had the bejesus scared out of them by the idea of missing explosives and an angry OBL on the loose, there wasn't enough in the ABB argument to tell them what Kerry would do better, or why it's more important to be employed and not scared than scared and unemployed.

Had Dems been united for some set of ideals, it would have been harder to knock them off their footing.
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