Thursday, January 06, 2005


Garance Franke-Ruta talked to George Lakoff about how to frame the Social Security debate
The first thing is don’t just negate the other sides' frame. Don’t just say, "I'm against private accounts." That’s like Nixon saying, "I am not a crook."

The second thing is that simply stating a fact doesn’t overcome frames. They have framed Social Security as a crisis. In terms of the idea, that is a combination of many frames they put together into one trope: bloated inefficient government, you spend your money better than the government. The arguments about Social Security make use of frames that are general and that do not just talk about Social Security. There isn’t a notion that privatization is inefficient and costly. There's a whole bunch of ideas about Social Security that have to be gotten out there. The only way the general frames get out there is by constant repetition over the years.

I'm asked asked all the time, "How do we reframe Social Security?" The facts do not overcome the conservative spin. In order to change frames you have to have everybody saying the same thing at once. Facts alone won't set you free without having a system of frames.
Repeat after me: Social Security will remain solvent for decades. Don't trust Social Security to the same fat cats that brought us Enron. Privatization = Phase-out.

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