Framing is basically just a tool for persuading people through the effective use of language, is it not?
Like any tool, it can be used for good or bad, and its not the end in itself - persuading people is - but it is a valuable tool nonetheless.
It would seem to be a necessary skill to master in order to build a political coalition.
I don't understand either why the concept seems to rile people up so much. People seem to think it means fooling people, like "clean skies" or "healthy forests" (or was it "healthy skies" and "clean forests"?) Maybe that's why it gets a bad rap.
But those are just examples of the misuse of framing, they are not the essence of it.
I don't know if you're familiar with the work of Deirdre McCloskey, who is an economic historian who has done work on the "rhetoric of economics," which as I understand it is basically the study of how economists frame their arguments.
At any rate, she ha said that we ought to change the word "data" - "things given," to "capta" - "things seized," just like you said.
There is a place for a principled, realistic conservatism in politics.
But the conservatism we have today is neither principled, nor realistic.
I don't mean to put you in the "unprincipled," "unrealistic" camp, by the way. This is not a personal attack.
I didn't think we should keep spending massive amounts of money, lower taxes and not cut anything substantial and in fact to increase spending on multiple programs.
And that is a principled conservative position. Let's debate about what programs would have to be cut in order to sustain the permanently lower taxes that conservatives want.
I personally think that my side would win the debate, or at least I hope so, but it is an open question.
Your position, however, is emphatically not the position that most "supply-side" conservatives have been peddling for years, which is that tax cuts by themselves will produce so much growth that we don't even have to worry about program cuts because revenues will actually increase.
Those conservatives are the kind of unprincipled, unrealistic "we can have our cake and eat it too" conservatives that have actual power in this country.
There are many theories about what drove the 2004 election results . . . One such trend was the movement of white working class voters away from the Democratic ticket. . . .
In 2000, Gore lost white working class (defined as whites with less than a four year college degree) voters by 17 points; this year, Kerry lost them by 23 points . . .
Among white working class voters, 66 percent said they trusted Bush to handle terrorism, compared to just 35 percent who said the same about Kerry. That's pretty bad, but check this out: 55 percent of these voters said they trusted Bush to handle the economy and only 39 percent said the same about Kerry. . . .
I know you've disputed the validity of defining "working class" by education attainment rather than income (what was the argument again?). But there seems to be a real problem for Democrats with this non-college class.
I guess one question would be - how much overlap is there between "working class" and "non-college class"? Is much of the non-college class higher up in the income distribution than we presume?
While I think there is a lot of truth in what you say about the politics of Iraq, I also think the problem goes deeper than that.
It's not just that people think that Democrats won't defend the country from external enemies, althought that may be part of it.
It's really a deeper sense that Democrats don't have any fixed principles; they'll say anything they think you want to hear to get elected.
It's as if Democrats are seen as the ultimate in unprincipled political calculators.
And I think that feeds into questions about whether Democrats allegedly have the spine to defend the country ("if they won't stand up for themselves . . .").
And, in the end, I'm not really troubled by all this back and forth, as nasty as it may get sometimes, because I think it's essential to working out exactly what it is we believe in, what our values are, how far do we want to go in terms of policy, where will we compromise and where should we draw the lines in the sand that won't be crossed.
But before we decide where and when to compromise, I think we need to do more work on deciding just what it is we believe in. Otherwise we are little more than those political calculators that many Americans seem to think we are.
Yes, CAFTA is complicated, and its' possible to make a case for it. But the working class folks we desperately need to join us in a anti-Republican coalition sure as hell aren't clamoring for it.
On the Iraq war, voting for it certainly hasn't been a winning position. Prescient arguments against the war were available to anybody who was interested at the time. You're damn right I think the Democrats would be in a far stronger position now had more of them opposed the whole thing on principle from the beginning, or even if more of them had simply asked tough questions about the ever-shifting justifications and flimsy evidence offered by proponents, rather than roll over and give Bush his war, which is what happened. Now the Dems are essentially complicit in it, which was basically Bush's winning argument last fall and a big reason why they are afraid to offer any kind of alternative policy now.
So maybe political calculations were there, but they have turned out to be lousy ones. Why should anybody listen to the Bidens or Liebermans of the world about the alleged political strategy behind these votes? They are terrible at political strategy.
I think this comment largely misses the point of what left Democrats are saying. Take the vote on the bankruptcy bill for example. Opposition to that bill is hardly "outside the mainstream," yet many Democrats voted for it anyway. Why? Was a "yes" vote really necessary to keep those Democratic congressmen who voted for it in office? Or were they just listening to their campaign contributors?
Now multiply that several-fold: labor-backed congressmen who voted for CAFTA; the abject failure to offer any kind of leadership or coherent alternative policy on Iraq or foreign policy in general, and so on.
The issue is not that the left so much wants Democratic politicians to toe the line on every single issue. But on issues that are critical to a progressive revival, like stopping obscene corporate giveaways that have no rationale other than to keep the contributions rolling in, they expect our folks to be on the side of working and middle-class people.
If, as a party, Dem pols would stand up and show spine on those sorts of issues more often, I bet you would find much more tolerance of individual deviations on various issues.
There is a long tradition in this country to which the rhetoric of "special interests" is related. It is the tradition of an elite gentry, a self-ordained patrician class, which supposes itself to be above "mere" material needs. This political tradition claims to care only about higher-minded, moral concerns; it presents itself as the advocate of "higher" values. I think such claims are delusional. . . .
Isn't there, however, a discernible general or national interest, transcending the interests of discrete social groups? On some matters (clean air, safety rules at work, national security, and so on) there no doubt is. But [some] have been a bit too enchanted with the notion of a general interest transcending the limited interest of various social groups. [They] tend to speak of special interests as if there were no crucial moral and social distinctions to be made among them; as if it weren't clearly in the common good to further some and oppose others.
-- Irving Howe, "Intellectuals, Dissent, and Bureaucrats," Dissent, Summer 1984, p. 272
The only correction I would make to this is that in '86, there was no approval poll taken right around the election, there was one taken a month before which put Reagan at 63%, and one taken a month after which put him at 47%, and in the intervening time the Iran-Contra scandal had broken out.
I think the scandal was actually uncovered after the November election (late November), but somebody with a better memory than me, or with actual documentation might want to verify that.
It may be that the earlier, higher, approval rating is the more appropriate measure of Presidential popularity at the actual time of the election.
. . . to downgrade Germany's debt rating? Their budget deficit as a percentage of GDP is 3.7%, which is almost exactly the same as the US figure, 3.5%, in addition to the debt-to-GDP ratios you mention.
So either Germany is getting extra-special attention from the bond rating agencies at a very curious time (when they are trying to form a new government, the party make-up of which is very uncertain), or, as you say, a downgrade of US government debt ought to be right around the corner.