I also like the division into four areas, and note how the orginal Powell memo, which inspired the Right to fund and build a network of advocacy/communications organizations to change America's politics, also had four targets: Academe, TV and other media, politics and the courts.
Here's what I think is missing in this discussion -- Anyone can "come up with a message" but how do you get that message into the minds of the public? And how do you stick with it long enough to be effective? The Right DID THIS - and we all know the results - so let's look at how they did it.
The Republicans have put billions of dollars - literally billions of dollars - into their think tank/communicatons engine, which exists largely OUTSIDE of the election/political process but weilds great influence on that process. They have followed a stragic plan over a long period of time. Read that Powell memo (a link to the actual memo is in the left column of the article), and look at today's structure of their network of organizations, and tell me if they funded and followed a plan for three decades or if they didn't.
A current example is the current Social Security "reform" proposal -- how long have they been working toward this? Anyone who studies this will tell you that their think tanks have been pounding out a consistent strategic lie for a long, long time. They formulated the idea of convincing the public that "Social Security is going broke" or is "in crisis" quite some time ago, and have been repeating amd repeating and repeating that message through many, many channels. Only now is this investment coming to fruition. It's so hard to fight because the puboic believes the lie. "Everybody knows" that Social Security is in trouble. It is a lie, they knew it was a lie from the beginning, but they also knew that the path to getting rid of Social Security lay in convincing the pubic that it would "go broke."
At election time Republican candidates don't have to formulate issues or messages about Social Security. They don't have to spend a dime educating the public on this issue. They only have to say they will "fix the problem." Contrast this with the burden Progressive candidates have explaining an issue like single-payer health care.
Any marketer can tell you what billions of dollars buys. If the Demcorats were ready to put billions into ANY message, repeating it for several years, through hundreds of different channels, they'd be doing pretty well. No?
So we need to examine not just the nature of the Right's messages (Lakoff, etc.) and not just come up with good messaging ourselves. We also need to be ready to make the necessary investment in setting up organizations designed to formulate and follow long-term strategic plans, and effectively get our messages to the public.
We've been great at organizing Progressive money INSIDE the election cycle, for short-term work. Now we need to start recognizing and explaining that real money needs to go to organizations that educate and persuade, long-term. We need to fund and build organizations that emulate the Right's think tanks - without lying, etc. -- organizations that exist OUTSIDE of the traditional election process. AND we need to build media outlets like Air America... To get this done we all have to work to help our funders understand this need.