Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lakoff on Obama's SOTU framing

Lakoff sees how Obama has turned around public opinion after he finally got the message about proper framing. He looks at the SOTU speech and a fine example of effective rhetoric based on transparency and authenticity geared to policies for the public good. At root of the speech was empathy: "Americans caring for one another and taking responsibility for one another as well as themselves. He spoke overtly about how private success depends on public provisions." The frame overrides the specious Ayn Randian notion that we're all in it for ourselves, and that somehow 'enlightened self interest' is for the public good.

As proof in the pudding of Obama's effective framing, Lakoff cites that "77 percent of listeners approved of the speech, 53 percent strongly positive and 24 percent somewhat positive, with only 22 percent negative." It is no wonder then that such framing has moved public opinion on a number of recent issues, from gun control to immigration to women's issues etc. The country has not moved left in distinction to right, but moved forward, i.e., evolved as a result of such educational framing. And such evolution is of course exactly what the regressives cannot abide. What, with an ever-increasingly educated citizenry motivated by the pubic good this will obviously require significant changes in the status quo of the rich and powerful making all the rules and buying Congress to keep it that way.

Hence the regressives realizing the need for a drastic makeover. They too can read the polls and the last election was more proof that they are losing. They of course think it's just a matter of framing or packaging, that if they get that right they can win again. But as I said above, and what Lakoff maintains, is that it must match the moral vision behind it. And the progressive moral vision about the good of all instead of the few is an authentic vision that rings true to us all at a deep level. There is no amount of framing that doesn't have this moral vision behind it that can win the day again.

That has been the regressive strategy up to now. Using the science of framing to pretend their polices are about the people while really being about the rich. But by progressives exposing the facts, backed by proper framing, and thereby exposing regressive lies and manipulation, has changed the game for good. There's no going back to a regressive vision for the country, and for that I am grateful and once again hopeful.

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