Monday, September 8, 2008

The Latest Polls and the Value of Framing

I checked the polls again today and John McCain is ahead three points...which is the margin of error. How could anyone find the polls believable? I don't. Yet they scare me. If they are correct, John McCain could win this election. It's only a little over six weeks from now.

If McCain wins, I will blame the racist element in America. Although I like Joe Biden, I believe he should have chosen Hillary for his running mate. I believe together they would have had a winning ticket.

There's a very good possibility that the polls cannot be correct any more with so many people relying on cell phones and having no land live. At least, I certainly hope that is true.

What many people don't realize is that the Republicans have stayed in power as long as they have because they are experts at "framing". They use words that sound good to describe policies that are horrible. For example:

"The White House has masked its attacks with euphemisms that would have embarrassed George Orwell. George W. Bush's "Healthy Forests" initiative promotes destructive logging of old-growth forests. His "Clear Skies" program, which repealed key provisions of the Clean Air Act, allows more emissions. The administration uses misleading code words such as streamlining or reforming instead of weakening, and thinning instead of logging. "

In George Lakoff's best selling book published in 2004, "Don't Think of an Elephant", he explains that concept. Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. Note in the above quote the framed words "Healthy Forest Initiative" and "Clear Skies Act" that accomplish the exact opposite. Another term framed by the Republicans is "The Death Tax" to describe the inheritance tax, which already has a two million dollar ceiling. So the only ones who would not benefit from that tax law are the very rich. They would have to pay an inheritance tax.

By calling tax cuts "Tax Relief" , they managed to demonize those who were against it because who on earth would be against tax relief? They would be seen as bad people.

The phrase "Tax Relief" began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush's inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for "relief." For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add "tax" to "relief" and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain. Of course the tax relief was mainly for those earning $200,000 or more.

"Tax Relief" has even been picked up by the Democrats. I was asked by the Democratic Caucus in their tax meetings to talk to them, and I told them about the problems of using tax relief. The candidates were already on the road using the term "Tax Relief" in their speeches. You see the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot.

Following the 2004 defeat of Kerry, many progressives realized that simply targeting voters with anti-Bush messages was not enough. But have they changed their tactics?

Read what George Lakoff thinks of the Palin choice here:

Lakoff has another book out now. It is "The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 20th Century Politics With an 18th Century Brain." The democrats had better buy it and read it quickly!


Balisha said...

I'm getting worried about the outcome for the first time. A friend emailed that Barack said something about his "Muslim faith" in an interview yesterday. I haven't had the news on yet...I imagine they will all be devouring this comment.

Margie's Musings said...

I would imagine so. I haven't seen a thing about it yet though.

Judy said...

I just can't believe that people cannot see through McCain and his tactics. It just blows my mind that people are so stupid when it comes to this election. I do think Obama has the young peoples vote. My daughters are young and they are for Obama and so are most of their friends. The young people all think McCain is too old and they want change. Not more of Bush.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Hillary wasn't chosen for two reasons. Bill being number one and her 49% national negativity rating. Were it only Democrats voting, that probably wouldn't have mattered but it's a killer in the general.

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