The Straw Man

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s work to get our worldview across with well framed messages; work made harder when the opposition is intentionally misstating our positions and then arguing vehemently against them.

That technique is a specific propaganda trick known as the “straw man” and it’s the one employed most often by conservative strategists and conservative media types like one Wesley Pruden whose opinion piece creates a virtual army of straw men.

Here are a few examples and you can click to the article if you really want more:

” …“straight” folks and particularly straight white men, are so bad they’re not entitled to rights, civil or otherwise. Cops are all bad because they’ve set out to wipe out black folks, and therefore it’s OK to kill as many cops as possible.”

“…there’s no such thing as a Muslim terrorist, and besides, radical Islamic terrorism is a myth (you could ask Hillary), and Muslims wouldn’t be terrorists if they were not oppressed by Jews and Christians in the West. You could ask Bernie Sanders, who wants to bar believing Christians from holding public office. “

“An important Democratic message is that a woman has the right to choose when and whether she has an abortion, but she doesn’t have the right to choose not to have one.”

Liberals do not believe any of these things, but the trick is so powerful that many conservatives do believe these things about us.  For the record, we do not ever suggest that you use this, or any other propaganda technique in your messaging. We must frame our messages with integrity and honesty.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Skill of Framing

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We’ve had requests for lists of well framed messages on specific issues. Not to say we won’t provide examples of effective framing, but we will resist a catalog. A list doesn’t tell you why we take the positions we do. A list must be consulted or memorized. A list does not empower you to generate well framed messages when you need them.

A list does not help you internalize the skill of framing. A clear understanding of the interrelated values that make up our worldview empowers you to self generate messages on any issue old or new.

The skill of framing also takes the focus off facts and puts it solidly in the realm of morality. Think about your voter contact experiences -neither of you can ever know all the facts about every issue. Each of you is afraid the other knows more and that your ignorance will be revealed. Both of you feel a great deal of anxiety about this and want to end the conversation as quickly as possible. When you are skilled at framing, however, your conversations become values conversations and everyone can talk about what they believe.

Framing our values gets voters inside our worldview for a moment. When you connect with a voter on a shared belief, you provide a catalyst that opens the door to an entirely new way to look at things.

Effective framing is also strategic.

If each of our messages evoke our worldview (consciously or unconsciously), then they reinforce each other. Over time our worldview is strengthened in voters’ minds and the pendulum of public opinion swings back in our direction. Importantly, we lay the foundation for our candidates to express our values proudly and without penalty. “Moving right to win” would no longer be necessary.


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