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February 24, 2005

Learning to Frame

There is a very interesting piece over on Blue Oregon by a guest columnist, Edward LeClaire of Portland, entitled “Dean, Lakoff and the Elephant”.  The article is about framing and the author comments on a Howard Dean/Richard Perle debate held in Portland a few days ago.  He gives some examples from the debate and then basically says that good as Dean is on many things, he has to get a better grasp on framing.  He ends with this:

The framing of debates on a national scale has dire repercussions at the local level. Here in Oregon, the national framing has left us victim to national groups that target Oregon and its initiative process. We are left in a strange situation where a popular democratic governor has admitted defeat on the tax front and plans to balance the budget with only current funding. That's what not paying attention to frames gets us. Although I really like Dean and tend to agree with him, his leadership on framing shows me that we must lead him from the ground up, framing the debate for ourselves as we go.

His post resonated because we have pretty similar issues up here. 

We can see when framing works well.  When I was at the Clean Car Hearing last Thursday, I saw a well orchestrated, well framed discussion and the Democrats, both panelists and legislators, came off like champs.  If you missed that post, check it out here.

But we are no where near consistent yet.  I am still concerned about the Washington Republicans ploy of calling for a “revote” in the gubernatorial election.  As others have said, the word and the way it is used connotes just one more in the series of constitutionally established vote counts after the three we had last fall rather than an entirely new, extra-constitutional step.  It is being framed as the “fair” thing to do and Republicans continue to send in money to keep that lawsuit going and to keep the issues in the public eye.  It seems to me that the Democrats have still not figured out how to talk about this issue locally or nationally well. 

I may feel a bit more concerned than most because I was in California during the six months prior to Governor Gray Davis' recall and the subsequent gubernatorial free-for-all which Schwarzenegger won hands down.  I watched while the Democrats to a person sat back paralysed, seemingly not believing what was happening in front of us. 

With luck and a good dose of common sense, we will ride this "revote" nonsense out but if, by any chance, the 2004 governor's election is set aside, I fear that the Democrats will be starting from a cold start while the Republicans are good and revved up.  Learning to frame means working the conversation amongst ourselves, reaching an understanding of what the real issues are and then presenting that in a way that people can understand. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on February 24, 2005 at 09:18 PM in Strategery | Permalink

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