George Lakoff gives a great explanation of how the right has spent years, money and used “think tanks”
Because they’ve put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce saying that all of our best students are becoming anti-business because of the Vietnam War, and that we needed to do something about it. Powell’s agenda included getting wealthy conservatives to set up professorships, setting up institutes on and off campus where intellectuals would write books from a conservative business perspective, and setting up think tanks. He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973, and the Manhattan Institute after that. [There are many others, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute at Stanford, which date from the 1940s.]
And now, as the New York Times Magazine quoted Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation, they have 1,500 conservative radio talk show hosts. They have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system. They understand what unites conservatives, and they understand how to talk about it, and they are constantly updating their research on how best to express their ideas.
to bring about a framing much like the Newspeak of Orwell’s 1984
- The novel includes an appendix, The Principles of Newspeak , written in the style of an academic essay. The appendix describes the development of Newspeak, and explains how the language is designed to standardise thought to reflect the ideology of Ingsoc; that is, by making “all other modes of thought impossible”.
There still exists to this day a literary debate about whether the appendix should be read as part of the narrative. Because it is written in third person past tense these people argue that: for whoever wrote the appendix, Newspeak, and the totalitarian government, is a thing of the past.(Atwood , Benstead ).
An example of this framing
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.
Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there’s an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American. In addition, the wealthiest Americans use that infrastructure more than anyone else, and they use parts of it that other people don’t. The federal justice system, for example, is nine-tenths devoted to corporate law.
It is an issue of patriotism! Are you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country? It’s about being a member. People pay a membership fee to join a country club, for which they get to use the swimming pool and the golf course. But they didn’t pay for them in their membership. They were built and paid for by other people and by this collectivity
In the interest of starting some reframing, I have started with an oft used term in the U.S. “Cut and Run“. Currently it is used as a pejorative against those who want to take the proper course of action and get out of Iraq.
Before the Bush wannabes start throwing this term around parliament to defend their insistence on staying in Afghanistan, I suggest we show it as a real term.
What has this government done? It has cut numerous programs which help people, which tax dollars have gone to support recognizing that in a democracy everyone’s voice gets to be heard.
What I am proposing is that we start a campaign on Harpers cut and run government. You can use the above graphic or create your own. You can link to the list or post it on your blog or site.
Lets start some “framing” of our own.