(updated for coherencea and now available at DKOS)
Framing is not everything but it contains all the problems we speak of. I see several aspects of this problem:
- History: the left and center-left in America have not created a historical narrative that makes sense to most Americans as an alternative to both the MSM corporate narrative that is radically ahistorical, i.e., they pick and choose historical facts to present a pro-corporate narrative simply because it is there. I include the MSNBC and Comedy Central pundits in this–the accept at face values unproven and clearly false historical facts as being accepted truths. Don’t ask me to list them right now–I’m not trying to prove anything here just to spur discussion and thought.
- Class struggle: any framing of issues has to be done within the context of class-struggle which is very real in this country. The Democratic Party is very afraid of this because they are worried about cultural backlash–yes, there will be a severe cultural backlash from people who are obsessed with American Exceptionalism (the new buzzword on the right) but it’s time that progressives and liberals desacralize that concept–the data doesn’t lie, we are a deeply class-divided society with an entrenched oligarchy with relatively static social movement. What movement there is comes form immigrants who start out relatively poor and within a generation or half a generation return to whatever social class they populated in their native country, e.g., a doctor comes to the U.S and drives a cab until he/she can get their credentials here.
- Pragmatism: the left/progressive movement should emphasize pragmatism as a deep American value and use it to frame issues as much as the class-struggle frame. The right in America has descended into a moment where it traffics strictly in fantasies. I’ve heard various discourses on the right in this country and they bear no relationship to reality. These notions can be dismissed easily. For example, their views on health-care are easily repudiated–why didn’t the left do its job? The “debate” that occurred had no basis in fact because the left, did not insist on using facts, studies and the scientific method but were suckered into the MSM narrative that the rest of the world does not exist and “nobody” really knows how to “fix” health care. There is no and was no ambiguity! The only way you fix health-care is through making it a public utility like the rest of the world does. The right-wing and centrist counter-arguments are basically the equivalent of saying the world is flat–disproving that contention is incredibly easy. There is no reasonable argument on their side! Now, as a counter-example there is a reasonable argument for Empire, there is a reasonable argument for authoritarian rule and social Darwinism thought the right doesn’t even bother to make those arguments except in private. People need to be forced to choose between reality and fantasy–the HCR debate was a debate that was entirely conducted in fanstasyland and for this the left bears a lot of responsibility.