October 15, 2003


The Frame Around Arnold (George Lakoff, October 13, 2003, AlterNet)

By presenting a laundry list of issues, Davis and other democrats fail to present a moral vision -- a coherent identity with a powerful cultural stereotype -- that defines the very identity of the voters they are trying to reach. A list of issues is not a moral vision. Indeed, many Democrats were livid that Arnold did not run on the issues. He didn't need to. His very being activated the strict father model -- the heart of the moral vision of conservative Republicans and the most common response to fear and uncertainty.

In short, Arnold's victory is right in line with other conservative Republican victories. Davis' defeat is right in line with other Democratic defeats. Unless the Democrats realize this, they will not learn the lesson of this election.

And indeed, conservatives are busy trying to keep Democrats from learning this lesson. There is an important frame we haven't mentioned yet: The Right-Wing Power Grab frame. Davis used this at the beginning of his campaign, and Clinton and the Democratic presidential candidates who supported Davis echoed the frame. This frame does accurately characterize many of the facts as we have discussed them. But Davis was unable to communicate this frame effectively and it fell from public sight.

He's right about the Democrats having no moral vision and being the party of the laundy list--that's what happens when all you have left is a coalition of different groups whose only common interest is that they want something from government. On the other point though, when 55-60% of voters want to do something, it makes little sense to attack them as extremists involved in a "Right-Wing Power Grab". They may be Right-wing extremists but few will perceive themselves to be, so you're just alienating them further.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2003 8:44 AM

Anyone else find it a coincidence that all these strikes are taking place in CA??

I haven't really been following them, maybe it was just timing.

Posted by: Sandy P. at October 15, 2003 10:13 AM

The "Right Wing Power Grab" frame is an attempt to deligitimize opposition to a flawed and vulnerable candidate. It doesn't work well because it tells the voters that they are gullible dupes, and people don't like to hear that about themselves, even if it might be true. Then again, it seems that politics, like professional sports, is an area where you can insult your customers, lie to them, tell them what you really think of them and they'll keep coming back for more.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 15, 2003 12:40 PM

Didn't we talk about this Lakoff moonbat before. He has a model and he will chop or stretch the facts to make them fit it without mercy or remorse.

Arnold a conservative? Only in Berkley, George, only in Berkley.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 16, 2003 1:07 AM


The "Power Grab" notion is intended to fire up the base, not win new voters.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 16, 2003 7:08 AM