Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Health Care Reform — Framing Language Redux

Following on the framing philosophy of professional linguist and distinguished professor, Dr. George Lakoff, I have talked previously about how Democrats, Liberals and Progressives need to start talking about our health care reform legislation. Whether you believe this legislation falls far too short, or was too deep a compromise to the for-profit insurance industry, it is the legislation we have, so it is the legislation we have to support right now. And especially if you don't like this law yourself, the only way we will ever be able to improve on it is if we regain majorities in both Houses of Congress.

It is imperative to understand that the conversation isn't just about the health care law itself. It's about giving the Democratic, Liberal and Progressive candidates in this critical election a fighting chance to take back the House of Representatives. And given how the Republican Fright Machine has poisoned the minds of even those who support the provisions the law contains, those people will be more likely to vote for a Republican who says they now want to "fix" this law than a Democrat who supports this law.

Democrats up for reelection won't support Obamacare II

The political consequences will be severe for the Democrats if the Supreme Court kills the entire Obamacare law. The fallout will not just affect the president. There is no way Democrats in Congress, or anyone else on the ballot with the president in November, will want to commit to supporting Obamacare II.

And we cannot allow that to happen. And it will, if we don't find a way to re-frame this law in clear, straight-forward terms that, at the same time, expose the lies of the right and replaces them with positive messaging that will bring former supporters back into the fold.

I don't think anyone here wants to see a repeat of 2010. But that is what we will have if we don't get this right this time. Our party leaders failed us the first time around, allowing Republicans to get away with their "death panel" rhetoric. It's going to be up to us to turn that around. The only way "Winning Words" turn into "Winning Elections" is if they are repeated, repeated, repeated.

George Lakoff on the Santorum Strategy: Why we’re all in trouble if this strategy is successful in 2012.

A perfect illustration of pounding radical conservative ideas in our heads can be seen by examining the speech Rick Santorum gave in Missouri after winning the Minnesota primary. (Pay particular attention to the amount of times the words listening, he knows better, rights, and freedom were used)

Rick Santorum began his speech by thanking your average Fox news viewer and all of the “smart idiots” for helping to build the conservative party. “Tonight was a victory for the voices of our party, conservatives and Tea party people, who are out there every single day in the vineyards building the conservative movement in this country, building the base of the Republican Party, and building a voice for freedom in this land.”

This was immediately followed up by continuously repeating language to evoke the “frame” that President Obama “knows better” than you. This is illustrated by the overwhelming number of references being made to President Obama not listening to the voice of the American people (14X’s), because he knows better than you (5X’s), and is using the Government to run your lives by taking away your rights (10X’s), and freedoms, (12X’s).

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

The Santorum Strategy

Liberals tend to underestimate the importance of public discourse and its effect on the brains of our citizens. All thought is physical. You think with your brain. You have no alternative. Brain circuitry strengthens with repeated activation. And language, far from being neutral, activates complex brain circuitry that is rooted in conservative and liberal moral systems. Conservative language, even when argued against, activates and strengthens conservative brain circuitry. This is extremely important for so-called "independents," who actually have both conservative and liberal moral systems in their brains and can shift back and forth. The more they hear conservative language over the next eight months, the more their conservative brain circuitry will be strengthened.

This point is being missed by Democrats and by the media, and yet it is the most vital issue for our future in what is now being discussed. No matter who gets the Republican nomination for president, the Santorum Strategy will have succeeded unless Democrats dramatically change their communication strategy as soon as possible. Even if President Obama is re-elected, he will have very little power if the Republicans keep the House, and a great deal less if they take the Senate. And if they keep and take more state houses and local offices around the country, there will be less and less possibility of a liberal future.

The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of voters -- in campaigns at all levels from Congress to school boards. Part of the Republican strategy is to get liberals to argue against them, repeating conservative language.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

So who's ready to apply these principles to our own language — right now?

If you are, then join me using this "Winning Elections" way to frame health care reform:

The Republican party's plan for health care would put us on a Path to Poverty steeper than the one they've already set us on with their tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class, the poor, and our precious seniors.

  • The Patient Protection Act does just what it says — protects patients.
  • The Patient Protection Act protects patients from losing their coverage when they get sick, while the Republican plan that leads us on a Path to Poverty would remove this protection.
  • The Patient Protection Act protects patients from being refused coverage because of a pre-existing condition, while the Republican plan that leads us on a Path to Poverty would remove this protection.
  • The Patient Protection Act protects patients by allowing young adults to remain on their family's policy while they are earning a degree before earning a living, while the Republican plan that leads us on a Path to Poverty would remove this protection.
  • The Patient Protection Act protects patients from having their hard-earned income line the pockets of insurance executives instead of paying for their actual health care, by legislating that at least 80-85 percent of a patient's premiums go directly toward their care.The Republican plan that leads us on a Path to Poverty would remove this protection.
  • The personal responsibility clause of The Patient Protection Act protects patients from ever-increasing premiums that are necessary to cover free-riders who refuse to carry insurance and wind up costing taxpayers billions of dollars to cover their unpaid medical care.

    Unlike the Republicans, Democrats believe strongly in the rights of all individuals to be protected from the whims of big corporate insurance companies who are more interested in their bottom line than the health of our great nation.

Please help by forwarding this message to all of your Representatives in Congress, to any candidates running for Congress in your district, to Democratic Party leaders and the media.

And repeat, repeat, repeat!

Use these lists to find out how to contact the above:

Tweet the House.

Tweet the Senate.

Tweet the Media.

Call or Email your representatives.

Thank you!

The Word Cloud for this post is:

(For more on the importance of framing, how and why it works and why "truth-telling" doesn't, please read Let's Take Back Control Of Political Language by Kos diarist Nils Davis.

This post is part of a series on framing with Democratic moral language for the 2012 elections. See also:

  • 5 Words And Phrases Democrats Should Never Say Again
  • The Most Important Words Democrats MUST Start Using Immediately
  • 3 More Words And Phrases Democrats Should Start Universally Using
  • 3 Things Democrats Should Immediately Go On The Offense About
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