This is the FRAME that wins 2012

“Can you govern yourself, or do you need a Federal Czar to govern your life for you?”

That question should be asked of every interested person who might vote in the next few elections. Everyone.

“Can you find a doctor, a light-bulb, or control the flow of your toilet, or should one of our Federal Czars take that decision out of your hands?”

When framed in this fashion, the answers to these questions probably have a 75-25 pro-freedom response rate, even in today’s electorate.

This “frame” (see Lakoff and Overton Window)  articulates the central message that all Republicans, conservative Democrats, the Tea Parties/Patriots, as well as the think tank types should be shouting from the hilltops.

Once brought to consciousness in this philosophical context, virtually every “self-government” policy initiative can be promoted on the foundation of “self-government”. Most Americans are hard-wired to agree with the conservative view on this.

On top of that, we will have Obama and Reid as the face of the Democrats, forced to defend their “Czarism,” top-down big government, and the intrusive nanny-state initiatives like San Francisco’s silly ban on Happy Meals (“The Democrats are against “happiness.”).  Meanwhile, the self-government frame literally sells itself.

When confronted with questions on whether people are capable of self-government, our opponents are forced to –  simultaneously, or alternatively – argue that:

  1. People are “too stupid” to govern themselves, or that
  2. We need large armies of government employees to either rule people, or teach them to govern themselves.

Given the superior solutions offered by the free-market and center-right, they will lose this debate.

With Tuesday’s election behind us, liberty-oriented people need to focus not so much on what Congress does as much as how to win the next round in 2012.

The only real danger is listening to the wrong people and foolishly re-running 1980 and 1994.  We shouldn’t pretend that a tax cut and cutting a few programs will balance the budget.  It won’t even come close.  We need a robust communication model that allows us to literally dismantle the failed “big government” programs of the 30s and 60s.

Using the self-government frame allows us to build that political support, not only for the necessary dismantlement, but for the more necessary policies needed to replace the failed system(s). This is something that Reagan, Gingrich and Bush attempted to do, but failed to accomplish.

This Congress will, or will not, take care of itself, so, while we still need to keep our eye on federal and state legislation, our real job is to cement the gains we’ve made in the minds of the voters, and get more of them involved in the process of taking back “government,” not for the Republicans, but for themselves.

12 thoughts on “This is the FRAME that wins 2012”

  1. The left’s response to this stuff is:

    a) OTHER PEOPLE are too stupid to make their own decisions — not you, you big, smart, superior, bulging-brained liberal voter, you! And they are waiting desperately for your help.

    b) We’ll give you (and those sad little poor people) FREE STUFF with other people’s money! Wa-hoo!

    They aren’t stuck with your versions of their arguments. They’ve got their own versions, which have been steadily gaining ground since 1932, in spite of occasional setbacks like 1994 and 2010.

    They take five steps forward for every one step back. Don’t be fooled by their despairing narcissistic rage over any minor setback. They’re still winning overall.

  2. I’ve long thought that this was a topic the conservatives should be bringing front and center.

    Nanny Statism touches the lives of EVERYONE and in ways that most find a direct infringement on their freedoms.

    Why more Republicans have picked up this issue remains a mystery. Perhaps it doesn’t poll or focus group as well as we citizens think. Or perhaps the “ruling class” of any party is not willing to give up this power.

  3. Joe, your last sentence says it all. We have smacked down the left’s branch of the Ruling Class. Now we have to smack around the right’s version. We could start with everyone who is blaming the tea parties for the fact we don’t have control of the Senate. If you listen closely, they will tell you who they are. They can’t help it.

  4. Retardo,

    You may be right, but I doubt it. Even if you are, we have to start somewhere, and I’d argue that the frame I’m promoting would apply to effectively where ever we might be on some continuum.

    My experience, which may differ from yours, is that a large group of their voters are reachable with a good argument and honest debate. This can’t come from a party or candidate as much as it has to come from us.

    I play cards with 5-7 committed lefties, none of whom are evil or stupid. They’ve all told me they’ll probably never vote Republican, but they’d vote for me.

    This means that WE have to be the ambassadors of our ideas, AND that our elevator pitch should be something other than how evil, stupid, and vile all liberals are. Just a thought.


    We have to trust our judgement, sometimes over and above polling and focus groups. Polls tell us only what is asked, but not how they arrived there.

    Focus groups are a bit better, buy only can work with inside the context of what the group “knows” and communicates.

    By asking the above question, we are, in effect, running our own “focus group.” If we understand the direction in which we are taking people, we effectively “facilitate” their conversion. Now you begin to see why this has to be a cultural, organic, and grass roots effort. We are the only ones who can do it. Parties and candidates are at the mercy of everything people already “know” about them.

  5. “People are “too stupid” to govern themselves, or that
    We need large armies of government employees to either rule people, or teach them to govern themselves.”

    Don’t want bring you down after our glorious tsunami, but do recall that “hope and change”, “we will begin to lower the rise of the oceans”, and “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” got Obama 52% of the voting public in the last election, including the David Brooks and Christopher Buckley.
    Do recall Peggy Joseph, who during Obama’s inauguration, famously declared she would not have to worry about “putting gas in the car” or “paying the mortgage”. “I wont have to worry about anything as long as he helps me”, the lovely Peggy concluded (

    Who knows, Libs might might have struck gold with these drones.

  6. This idea? that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

    reagan ’64

  7. One afternoon about 35 years ago I was in a graduate American History course at the University of Michigan taught by Shaw Livermore, a wonderful man, and he asked the question: “How can you have self-government, if you cannot govern yourselves?”

    It was perhaps the begining of my conversion.

    I was therefor thrilled to hear President Bush say in his Second Inaugural:

    “In America’s ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character – on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before – ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

    “Men can never escape being governed. Either they must govern themselves or they must submit to being governed by others.” Jamestown, VA, April 26, 1907.

  8. JB,

    Let us not forget that we have a few on our side of the aisle who are misguided as well. There will always be a percentage who are “unreachable” for wide variety of reasons.

    That 52% vote for Obama was not a function of all 52% being stupid. It was also a function of mistakes made by folks on our side, and other financial and economic factors. This is why it is up to us to aggressively promote our ideas.

    If everybody on this blog controlled their precinct, and recruited 10 others to do the same, all while working to repeat the process, we would move mountains.

  9. Mr. Behrend,

    I like your approach for engaging our liberal friends and neighbors into conversation.

    As with the original American war of Independence, I think that the key to victory is to draw the nation into a conversation about political philosophies. This does not mean “talking points” fired back and forth on TV. I am talking about a “kitchen table” discussion. The kind of frank, open discussion that we have at home when we are deciding if there is enough room in the budget for a new car, or how are we going to handle little Johnnies problems at school.

    This is going to be crucial in the days ahead as we begin to back away from Big Government. The very large problem is that every Big Government program has its justification in good, decent, and caring impulses. And the good, decent, and caring people are going to rise up to defend every single one of those programs.

    As individuals, we must present our case that Liberty (coupled with a moral people) always yields a better result than Tyranny (even when it is released for the most altruistic of motives).

    People will not be open to a change of basic philosophy in a debate format because an honest evaluation requires us to weigh both the “faults” and the “advantages”.

  10. Howard Jarvis, author of Prop 13 and a genuine character, had a favorite saying that I fear we will test the truth of soon. He said, “You cannot ask pigs to step back from the trough. You have to kick it away.”

    We will see.

  11. Michael,

    I agree 100%, but the “kitchen table” conversations are necessary. We have to engage, and then enroll, increasing numbers of people to help kick away the trough.

    In fairness, we also need to persuade the inner person inside all of us to slaughter their inner pig. Big Government works to make little piggies of us all. Just look at the municipal bond industry. They look private, but are nothing but a cadre of debt-driving, rent seeking, piggies.

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