Can Edwards Win By Stealing From Reagan? [VIDEO]

What happened to "reframing"?

"Reframing," a hot button issue for Democratic strategists for several years, got us thinking about how the Right had created influential but vapid zingers such as "War on Terror" and "Tax Relief."

But the fact is, Democrats are not good at reframing. Maybe they lack the poetic skills that made "Limousine Liberal" sticky. Maybe it's because, hey, they're open to new ideas and affirming others; they prefer free verse.

However, I've been encouraged by John Edwards' remarks about the environment [video, right], which emphasize America's opportunity to provide world leadership in conservation and innovation. Rather than associate environmentalism with personal sacrifice that is, with useful but uninspiring gestures like recycling, turning down thermostats and walking instead of driving, the "l" word might do for Edwards what "Shining city on a hill" did for Reagan.

The fact is, we won't win the election by making people feel guilty about turning on their air conditioners. And by this I mean, forget Al Gore. If he ran, it would be Jimmy Carter all over again. Edwards' association of American environmentalism with world leadership is so intrinsically optimistic, so Reagan, he could win in 2008.

Viewed in this light, environmentalism affirms the United States as a positive force in the world. It refreshes the flagging American spirit with optimism and reframes the United States itself as a world power, not by way of military might, but as a creator and an innovator that will lead by example. Next to this grand vision, the Right's "tree hugger" and other attempts at reframing environmentalism, look petty.

Stravinsky wrote, "A good composer does not imitate, he steals." If Democrats imitate Carter, we'll certainly lose, but if we steal Reagan...


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