Friday, March 27, 2015

On enduring foundations

The framing panel at the Progress Summit included plenty of ideas as to how the left can shape political debates. But I'll note that it seemed to miss a couple of related issues.

Most notably, there was an almost exclusive focus on reaching out to swing voters rather than framing issues in a way that would actually serve to build the progressive movement in the longer term. But that of course utterly misses the point that one can't afford to completely ignore base-building in the name of appealing to the currently-undecided - as even if one's goals focused solely on the latter, it's impossible to assemble the revenue and volunteer resources necessary to get do so without actually inspiring a reliable group of core supporters.

In addition, the framing issue was approached mostly from the perspective of parties and elections rather than broader movements - a particularly surprising oversight given the context of think-tank event.

On both counts, Paul Saurette stood out in offering insights into how the right has both developed extra-partisan mechanisms to spread the values which can be drawn on at election time, as well as the importance of appealing to emotions which can motivate voters across the spectrum. But there's still plenty of room to expand on the discussion as to how to build frames which stand the test of time - and particularly in a panel which pointed out how terms like "welfare" were turned into negatives by a concerted right-wing effort, that surely has to be a primary consideration in developing a progressive movement.

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