Framing is the key to waking up Americans to the real forces behind GOP policies

Thom plus logo If Dems don't figure this out soon 2022 is a loss.

In politics, framing is everything, and Democrats must get with the program or 2022 will be a disaster.

Framing is when you define an issue by placing it within a particular context, usually done by careful choice of language.

For example, when the fabulously wealthy multi-billionaire Walton family wanted to reduce the estate tax their heirs would have to cough up, they paid Frank Luntz to come up with new language that would get average Americans to oppose a tax that only affects the tiniest percentage of the very richest Americans.

Luntz famously suggested changing the name from "estate tax" to "death tax," even though it's a tax on income given to people who didn't work for or earn it, but just falls out of the sky when a relative has passed away.

And, sure enough, average Americans listening to wealthy right-wing talk show hosts and multimillionaire Fox News stars ranting about the terrible "death tax" quickly decided they were very, very worried about what used to be the very popular estate tax.

Other Republican frames include "unborn child," "tax burden," "religious freedom," "stifling regulations," "school choice," "right to work," "tax and spend," and "big government," among others.

Democrats now have an opportunity to promote their own frames that, over time, could be very effective in waking Americans up to the real forces behind GOP policies.

One of the most effective is to put most everything Republicans do in the frame of "what the billionaires who own them want."

The simple fact is, the entire Republican party is owned by the right wing billionaire class.

Conservative billionaires and their foundations funded massive national think tanks that crank out policy papers and clutter the Internet with what seem like normal articles but in fact are billionaire-friendly propaganda.

They've created a network of state-based think tanks, operating in every single state, to push state-based policies that advantage local billionaires and their industries.

One of their number, Rupert Murdoch, owns the largest television propaganda network in the United States.

They have "grassroots" organizations that brought us things like the astroturf Tea Party in 2009, funding $300,000-a-pop buses to transport Fox-marinated seniors to staged press events where they'd complain in a very down-home way about "socialism" and demand that "government get its damn hands off my Medicare!"

And these billionaires are not at all shy about telling their pet Republican politicians what they want them to do, which explains the GOP's often-bizarre policy positions and pretzel-like logic that's gotten so bad that most Republican politicians will no longer even go on radio or television outside of right-wing talk and Fox to defend themselves or their policies.

It's time to turn the tables.

One of the simplest and most powerful frames in the entire history of American politics is the frame of bribery and corruption.

Corrupt politicians go all the way back to the founding of our republic, and usually they've been corrupted by great wealth. Democrats should start aggressively using this frame.

When talking about tax policy, they should say things like, "The billionaires who own my esteemed colleague, Ted Cruz, want him to lower their taxes, but average Americans know that's what pays for the cost of a civil society."

(That sentence actually embodies two frames, the "billionaire-owned" frame and the "taxes are necessary to pay the costs of a functioning civil society" frame.)

Virtually every major Republican policy can be described in these terms, because the principal goal of all of today's Republican policies are either to support billionaires and their giant corporations, or to bring in enough fringe voters to win an election (abortion, religion, guns, etc.).


"The weapons industry billionaires who own Congressman Andy Harris want him to make sure America's streets stay flooded with their guns."

"The Internet billionaires who own Senator Marco Rubio want him to make sure Net Neutrality stays dead, so they can continue to spy on and profit from everything you do on the Internet."

"The fossil fuel billionaires who own Senator Todd Young want him to continue to vote to gut the EPA's enforcement of regulatory protections against pollution from coal burning power plants so they can make more money, even if it gives asthma and cancer to children who live downwind."

"The corporate billionaires who own Senator Ron Johnson want him to keep working to destroy union rights and workplace protections for working people so they can increase their profits and keep their employees terrified and quiet."

Democrats can use this language in virtually every press release, every news appearance, and help make it pop up in news article after news article.

Eventually, Americans will figure out who the Republican party really stands for.

Democrats need to start this now, because the 2022 election is looming on the horizon and if Republicans take control of the house or the senate, American democracy will again be under severe threat.


Originally posted on .

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