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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Three E's for framing - Economics, Ethics, Environment

The day after the election will come -- hopefully with good news. But whatever the news this year, the different direction the country needs to find leads right into progressives' strengths. We can only communicate effectively, both factually and in terms of underlying principles. Some thoughts.


The kitchen economy: The economy is just as important to people as Iraq, polls have shown, and people trust the Democrats. Rather than play with the Republicans' sound bites, we need to remove ourselves from the spreadsheets and graphs, sit down with the folks at the kitchen table and go over their bills with them.

We can look at the doctor bill, the insurance bill, the gas card bill, the heating bill, the college tuition bill, and yes, the tax bill. But we should itemize the tax bill for social security, schools, roads, police, national defense and the rest. And we should itemize the other bills for corporate profits in health care and energy and environmental degradation.

Then we can put the paycheck on the table. We can say a lot about the paycheck.

This kitchen economy is what the "first 100 hours" package of the Democrats is aimed at. God willing, we will see that passed early on. But we need to stay at that kitchen table until we fix health care. It is a matter of a family's security -- financial and physical. Shifting the deductions and insurance charges and doctor's charges from one bill to another is not so difficult. If we can make the point that we save by shifting from for-profit, complex, inefficient health care to single-payer coverage for all, we will have the game won.


This is the appropriate lens for the Iraq War. Progressives do not need to get bogged down in what the best way out is. First of all, there is no good way out. Second of all, we should be trusting our military and diplomatic professionals.

Our issue in Iraq should be ethics, the lies that got us in, the hypocrisy of Bush's "democracy" when the real purposes were domination and oil, the cronyism and incompetence at the top, the corporate fraud and waste and profiteering. And be sure to measure the cost in lives as well as dollars.

Congress is another hotbed of corruption, but Bush and Cheney are the poster boys for the subversion of the political process. Rumsfeld for incompetence. (I can't wait for the hearings)

The principle of the protective parent is at play here, but the issue of ethics targets the hierarchical principle of conservatives. These can't be the strong father they pretend to be if they're betraying the family like this.


Nothing plays better into the progressives' strengths than taking care of the environment. Competence, stewardship and prudence. It is important from a strategic point of view to get going on the environment, not only because we are so far behind already, but because it is the issue that is going to dominate the century. Democratic credibility will pay off big down the road. Republican obstructionism will hurt them bad.

Now let's see what the voter's say.