By Scott Wittkopf
All it takes to see a deeply flawed political strategy in practice is look at any recent press release from most Democratic candidates for governor, in this case, Andy Gronik:
“We already know that even under the rosiest projections taxpayers won’t begin to be repaid from Foxconn for 25 years. If Scott Walker and WEDC make a $3 billion mistake with Foxconn, it will be even longer before the taxpayers are made whole. That’s just a bad deal for the taxpayers and will serve as an anchor around the neck of our state for years to come.”
First, let’s not skip over the important fact that Gronik reinforces the strongly conservative free market frame about Foxconn by referring to it as a “deal”. Qualifying the term with “bad” does nothing to negate the idea (“don’t think of an elephant”). The vast majority of Democratic strategists have an outdated and wrong idea of how to win over voters by changing their minds on issues. The picture below illustrates this fatally flawed idea.
Our brains do not work that way. The reality is, that if the facts as presented don’t “fit” the frame people are perceiving the world through, they will reject the facts to maintain their perception of the world. Here’s another important piece of information – it’s not because they are “stupid”, “ignorant”, “hicks”, or any other demeaning insult. In fact, treating people like they are stupid or ignorant will only serve to solidify and harden their worldview. Therefore, reaching them and winning hearts and minds becomes more difficult. What does this say about the “conventional wisdom” in Democrat messaging? The heavy reliance on the “rational actor” model of human behavior, motivation, and decision making is outdated (back to the 17th Century) and is causing Democrats and progressives to miss opportunities.
Many of these opportunities exist now because of the extreme behavior based on self-interest and greed from conservative leaders. We know that the vast majority of people are capable of empathy and caring for others – all that is required is to activate those embodied ideas. We also know that we can do that by using the correct language, metaphor, and imagery.
How? What does that look like? I’ll discuss that next time…stay tuned (and your ideas are welcome as well)!
(This is an excerpt from Frame for the Future’s “Daily Dose”, emailed daily to subscribers. To learn more about how to effectively communicate progressive values, and for subscription options, go to http://www.frame4future.com.)