For decades the linguist Gge Lakoff wrote about the importance of framing and frankly in one post you have encapsulated and made super clear how to do this practically. THANK YOU!

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Thank you so much! That is exactly what I am trying to do. I worked with George for a year to learn framing, and have since spent several years working out how to apply it and explain it clearly, so it means a lot to hear you say that I have succeeded!

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Omg that’s so amazing. I was enthralled by his articles and books and tried so hard to figure out how to make it into something to do, not just know and understand. You have done ammmmaaaazzzzing work!!!

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I love this so much! Thanks for the tips.

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Nov 9, 2023Liked by Antonia Scatton

When I discuss a tax-supported social program with conservatives, they always follow up with "How are you going to pay for that?" My response is either "What makes you ask?", or "The same way we pay for the defense budget." Your thoughts?

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Another home run for Reframing America. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

My only pro-empathy freedom suggestion is to consider using Dr. Lakoff's suggestions in Don't Think of an Elephant, and dial down the "war" language, which helps conservative culture war. In his third suggestion on page 158, Lakoff tells us that "Your job is to activate for politics the nurturant, progressive values already there (perhaps only passively) in whoever you're talking to."

Conservatives WANT culture war for "smaller government" because they don't govern with empathy. They always attack empathy and mutual responsibility. Progressives WANT culture diplomacy because we want "effective government" because we DO govern with empathy? Consequently, shouldn't we be talking about the ART OF POLITICAL DEBATE or the ART OF DIPLOMACY or the ART OF EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE versus the art of war? (Yes. Commitment to empathy is a show of strength, i.e., as in protecting Ukrainian democracy with more arms and protecting Palestinian and Israeli civilians with a cease fire?)

Also, I love The Public Debate flow chart. However, wouldn't it be better to step away from conservative absolutist, take it or leave it frame, referenced in "set the terms" and use Dr. Lakoff's language "Whoever frames the debate, wins?" We want empathy at the center of constant public discourse to rewire Republican brains (yes, they do have a brain). Don't we want to nurture empathy in the GOP brains of our neighbors? If the GOP governed with empathy we could collaborate. Isn't that what we want? Collaboration around empathy and responsibility, which is at the heart of this amazing post?

Since governing conversations go on and on, don't we want to make empathy for and responsibility to humanity the center of public debate, which means "peace" not "war." The ART OF PEACE.

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You're most welcome! Re: war framing. I don't recommend the use of adversarial framing when talking to voters about issues. But when talking among ourselves about how the public debate operates, I use the metaphor that effectively conveys what I am trying to explain. We need to be more strategic, more proactive, more uncompromising in our promotion of empathy. Yes, sometimes we have to fight hate.

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Thank you for this insight on why you use war framing when preaching commitment to empathy for and responsibility to humanity to the choir. You're doing great work and I want progressives to succeed, which is why I want to share some more cautions on speaking to each other and conservatives differently.

I discovered Dr. Lakoff's work through a friend in 2004, who gave me a copy of Don't Think of an Elephant. Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I was especially impressed with Chapter 16 - How to Respond to Conservatives. It opens with:

"The earlier chapters are meant to explain what framing is and how it works through language and communication systems, what conservative and progressive worldviews are, what biconceptualism is, and what the deep issues are in framing. But sooner or later, you are on the front line called the dinner table. As my students regularly ask, 'Thanksgiving is coming and I'm goint to be eating dinner with my conservative relatives, and I am going to get in a row over politics with my grandfather or my aunt. It's always painful. What can I do? My advice: Ask your aunt or grandfather what they are most proud of that helped other people. My next bit of advice: Keep talking about those things. The more you keep talking about THEIR empathy and responsibility toward others, the closer you can get to them."

Where you have given us some great language to use, the last chapter of Elephant gives us some great insights on HOW to deliver that language. And he does so without WAR language. For example, here's the fourth point:

"Be sure to show respect to the conservatives you are responding to. No one will listen to you if you don't accord them respect. Listen to them. You may disagree strongly with everything that is being said, but you should know what is being said. Be sincere. Avoid cheap shots. What if they don't show you respect? Two wrongs don't make a right. Turn the other cheek and show respect anyway. That takes character and dignity. Show character and dignity."

Here is the sixth point:

"What if you have moral outrage? You should have moral outrage. But you can display it with controlled passion. If you lose control, they win."

Here is the eighth point:

"Be calm. Calmness is a sign that you know what you are talking about."

Here is the tenth point:

"Hold your ground. Always be on the offense. Never go on defense. Your voice should be steady. Never whine or complain. Your body and voice shold show optimism. Never act like a victim. Never plead. You should convey passionate conviction without losing control. Avoid the language of weakness - for example, rising intonations on statements."

Consider the diplomacy frame. Cultivate Empathy with Diplomacy S.H.O.E.S.

S - Show up at public and private meetings to cultivate empathy

H - Help colleagues and neighbors cultivate empathy in civic tasks

O - Organize friends to cultivate empathy in civic tasks

E - Educate about human rights empathy, the soul of democracy

S - Start over each day to publicly cultivate empathy

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