Lakoff: Why Conservative Lies Spread and What Progressives Can Do to Fight Them
Continued from previous page
The directly contradicts the traditional view of mainstream pollsters. As a result, it has not been tested empirically on a large scale, though there is one solid result.
Don't move to the right. Start thinking longer term. Build as much of a communications system as possible. Design long-term framing for your own high level, moral system and basic policy domains. Fit your immediate messaging needs to the long-term frames. Carry on both kinds of messaging in parallel.
Design polling to study bi-conceptuals through value-based frame-shifting. Always use batteries of questions.
How Conservatives Change Policies Without Winning Elections
How do conservative Republicans have a large effect on policy even when they are largely out of office? Their communication system is never out of office. That allows a conservative minority to stonewall and resist and gain popular approval for it. Their communication system intimidates Democrats into disaster messaging and policy shifts to the right. The Republicans don't have move the country in a conservative direction by holding office. Their communications system can get the Democrats to move the country to the right by forcing disaster messaging upon them.
The example of immigration
The most recent example of disaster framing is reported on in an important Politico article by Carrie Budoff Brown "Dems Tough New Immigration Pitch". It's an excellent piece, and I will be quoting liberally from it.
Brown reports that Democrats have taken "an enforcement-first, law-and-order, limited-compassion pitch that now defines the party's approach to the issue." Democratic leaders are now following the advice of pollsters Stan Greenberg, Celinda Lake, and Guy Molyneux and strategist/focus-group dialer Drew Westen: Talk like Republicans.
"The 12 million people who unlawfully reside the country? Call them "illegal immigrants," not "undocumented workers," the pollsters say." The pollster team was organized by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress.
"When [voters] hear 'undocumented worker,' they hear a liberal euphemism, it sounds to them like liberal code," said Drew Westen, a political consultant who has helped Sharry hone the message through dial testing. "I am often joking with leaders of progressive organizations and members of Congress, 'If the language appears fine to you, it is probably best not to use it. You are an activist, and by definition, you are out of the mainstream.'" And craft a policy with lots of Republican elements. Here is what President Obama, following the pollsters' advice, said at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House:
"The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do. It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -- they've got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They've got to admit that they broke the law and pay taxes and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law -- and then get in line and earn their citizenship." Conservative Republican elements are being communicated here: Use force against the illegals ("secure our borders"); get tough ("held accountable"}; personal, not social, "responsibility"; criminals ("living here illegally"); be punitive ("admit they broke the law and pay taxes and pay a penalty"); English only ("learn English"); they're getting free handouts ("earn their citizenship.").
Put aside for a moment the substance of the policy, and notice that these are conservative Republican themes that fit a conservative Republican view of the world. Democrats, starting with the President, are using the language that activates the conservative Republican view of the world. Why? As Brown reports,