Frames, Values, and Our Future and Past

I was over at Body and Soul reading this post
and the second to last paragraph severely bothered me:

Politically, those children are irrelevant. Not just to Republicans, but to any party that's thinking about winning elections. Everyone is talking about framing issues to pull a few more voters into line. But the deaths of innocents and the suffering of small children are entirely outside the frame. Which is probably why, if you go over to memeorandum right now, you'll find that the only interest this story has generated is among conservatives condemning the Washington Post for blaming America for problems caused by insurgents.

The premise seems true:  if we can't win on issues centered around hunger, health and well-being for all, what the hell is the point of trying?

More below

The issue seems to run deeper than finding the proper frame in which to place these issues, because Jeanne aptly points out that it is useless to place an issue about which noone cares into a frame:  it won't resonate anyway.  And if these aren't the issues at the heart of our criticism of Bush in Iraq, and the Republicans in general, then middling about less significant issues will be meaningless.

We need to bring issues about poverty and hunger to the fore again.  The prospects for a progressive party that actually advances progressive issues are nil if we do not have a society in which people deeply care about the rest of society.  The issue, however, still seems one about message, but the message needs to be a fundamentally new one.  It needs to be "We're all in this together" (which I think I've heard here or at MyDD before).  We need to emphasize how the uninsured affect EVERYONE, but even if that wasn't true, it is still important to care.

But we also need to fundamentally alter the way society views issues.  Naively, the conservative agenda will always seem more attractive to the average person than the progressive one.  

The conservative agenda tells people that things are fine, stuff will work out, and if anything, if things are bad, it's because of all that nasty change that's been going around these days.  No need to change your lifestyle, no need to do anything differently, except to remember to watch out for THEM (whoever they are at a particular time).

The progressive agenda, however, is fundamentally different.  It states that things are wrong, that there are problems with our world, and these problems need to be addressed in a fundamental way.  The types of problems that progressives address, and the manner in which they suggest addressing them are myriad; that they are fundamental and that they need be addressed is fundamental to the progressive.  Often the solution involves a serious committment on the part of the individual at home: recycling, ditching the car for a bicicle, etc.  We make the claim that society needs to change, that people not accept their lives as they are.  This is very difficult, particularly when our target audience is contemporary Americans.

In order to win, we need to mold society to challenge the world around it.  We need to encourage American citizens to ask questions about justice and fairness.  We need to show them that someting IS wrong, but it need not be.  And that something can't fucking be marginal issues about the exact payoff social security gives in the long term, or what the hell we call gay marriages.  Those issues are important, but not as much as the issues of life and death that will need to be addressed in the near future.  

As long as we middle around with crap, as long as we allow people to live in Plato's cave, the charlatans and assholes will rule the world.

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