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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Lakoff: In Political Debates, Frame it Your Way

George Lakoff has some debate pointers up at HuffPo, and President Obama — and all Democratic candidates — would do well do give it a read. Here’s a couple of Lakoff’s excellent tips:

Facts matter, but only when they clearly fit one’s morally-based frames. Facts and figures, when used, should create a moral point in a memorable way. And if the facts don’t fit your frames, the frames stay (since they are in your brain) and the facts are ignored or ridiculed.
…Effective political speech uses language based on one’s own frames and avoids language based on the opponent’s frames. The opponent’s language, even if negated and argued against, activates his frames in the brains of the public.
If the moderator uses the other side’s frames, shift to yours.
The best defense is a good offense: a narrative based on your frames. Always go on offense.
Tell why your views are patriotic.
…Limit discussion of policy details. Policies — and the facts and figures behind them — should only be discussed when they exemplify your values. Avoid isolated facts and figures. Tell stories with clear morals.
…Building the economy requires investment — in public infrastructure, education, research, and much more.
…Who are we as Americans? Are we citizens who join together to form a great nation? Or are we isolated individuals, with no commitments to each other, at the mercy of corporations whose central goal is their short-term profit.

Lakoff has more to say in this post and in his other writings, as a master of the linguistics and messaging needed to energize the spirit of broadly-shared sacrifice, opportunity and prosperity that can unify America.

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