It will take winning back the swing/independent/biconceptual/dual voters. They were influenced by the empathetic progressive messages in 2008 and by the fearful conservatives-without-conscience messages in 2010.
For 2012, the progressive message should be, “The Country We Believe In.” It should be about “how the progressive moral system defines the democratic ideals America was founded on, and how those ideals apply to specific issues. The real issue is existential: what is America at heart and what is America to be.”
“The basic [progressive] idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of [our] government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment.”
The Preamble to our Constitution supports the above quote: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
American is about we (progressive), not just me (conservatives without conscience).
Here is a quote from Lincoln which Obama recently restated which emphasizes the ‘we’ in American democracy: “to do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.”
President Obama also said this about protecting citizens, “the American belief… that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security… that no matter how responsibly we live our lives[,as individuals], hard time or bad luck, crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us.” This statement also shows his understanding of systemic causation – there are many factors which affect an individuals success or failure.
In addition to having empathy for our fellow citizens, understanding systemic causation is a key progressive quality needed for framing progressive messages. Biconceptuals/duals have some understanding of systemic causation and do show empathy in some situations. They can, and have been, persuaded by proper progressive framing.
The rich in this country have become so because of systemic causation within our protective and empowering form of government which creates a common wealth to promote equal opportunity for prosperity. The elements of this common wealth include, but are not limited to, “- direct corporate subsidies, access to publicly-owned resources [libraries, courts, water, air, land, etc.], access to government research, favorable trade agreements, roads and other means of transportation, education that provides educated workers, tax loopholes, and innumerable government resources taken advantage of by the rich, but paid for by all of us. What is called a “tax break” for the rich is actually a redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class whose incomes have gone down to those who have considerably more money than they need, money they have made because of tax investments by the rest of America.”
President Obama, hypothetically used himself as an example of systemic causation. He “would get a $200,000 a year tax break, which would be paid for by cutting programs for seniors, with the result that 33 seniors would be paying $6,000 more a year for health care to pay for his tax break. To see this, you have to look outside of the federal budget to the economic system at large, in which you can see what budget cuts will be balanced by increases in costs to others. A cut here in the budget is balanced by an increase outside the federal budget for real human beings.”
However, systemic causation is a foreign concept for conservatives without conscience because of their strict father upbringing. “Linguists have discovered that every language studied has direct causation in its grammar, but no language has systemic causation in its grammar. Systemic causation is a harder concept and has to be learned either through socialization or education.” Conservatives blame individuals or “bad apples” when things go wrong. Progressives blame “bad barrels.”
“Differences in systemic thinking between progressives and conservatives can be seen in issues like global warming and financial reform. Conservatives have not recognized human causes of global warming, partly because they are systemic, not direct. When a huge snowstorm occurred in Washington, DC recently, many conservatives saw it as disproving the existence of global warming — ‘How could warming cause snow?’ Similarly, conservatives, thinking in terms of individual responsibility and direct causation, blamed homeowners for foreclosures on their homes, while progressives looked to systemic explanations, seeking reform in the financial system.”
“[P]rogressives [need] to start talking publicly about that moral vision [empathy and caring for others] and about the importance of systems in our lives and in our politics. … In 2008, the Obama campaign activated and strengthened the network for the progressive moral system — and won over the duals. In 2010, the Democrats stopped talking morality and kept on talking policy, ceding morality to the conservatives, especially the Tea Party radical conservatives. In doing this, they ceded the election. Policy without an understandable moral basis loses.”
There is one key thing that should never be used for communicating progressive ideas – DO NOT use “conservative language tied to conservative ideas.”
Most quotes above from article by George Lakoff