Traps to avoid #5 & #6

Stephen LaFrenie

Taken from the article by Dr. Lakoff’s entitled "Thinking Points". I plan to address them one at a time in order to make each entry short and specific.

or here for the whole article which can be downloaded for free and is well worth the read.

5. "The No-Framing-Necessary Trap. Progressives often argue that “truth doesn’t need to be framed” and that the “facts speak for themselves.” People use frames—deep-seated mental structures about how the world works—to understand facts. Frames are in our brains and define our common sense. It is impossible to think or communicate without activating frames, and so which frame is activated is of crucial importance. Truths need to be framed appropriately to be seen as truths. Facts need a context."

Conservatives and liberals have been successful in catering to corporate interests by framing our consumer society around the truth of “quality of life”. The more ‘things’ we have the better our life must be. The one who sells the most must be more successful and thus have a better quality of life. “Buy low, sell high” is the only business ethic you need to succeed. Canadians are beginning to see how deceptive this has been. The ‘facts’ that surround gross domestic product, ‘global’ economy, free trade, material wealth, are not adhering to the underlying truth. The Green Party is going in the right direction by redefining what makes up a ‘quality life’. Environmental integrity, sustainable energy, affordable housing, access to higher levels of education and training, expanded health care are all facts and policies that must be framed around the Green vision of ‘quality of life’. The Green Party is doing this and needs to strengthen the message. The NDP has framed this truth with an ‘us vs. them’ mentality rooted in the ideological ‘left’. The pursuit of prosperity and wealth has been lumped into the enemy camp of ‘capitalism’ rendering even medium and small businesses into the ‘enemy’ scenario. It’s business vs. workers. They appear to have great difficulty talking to the business community because their support base is rooted in a confrontational framework that it doesn't seem to know how to get out of.

Our foreign policy has also been perverted around these deceptive facts. Who says that ‘quality of life’ for Canadians is identical to ‘quality of life’ elsewhere in the world? We are blinded to the consequences of imposing our version of the world on others. The quality of life accessible to Haitians, Jamaicans, Afghans, etc. is not the same as ours. Working in Haiti and Jamaica has shown me this first hand. Globalization says that developing nations must have access to everything we have in order to have ‘quality of life’ but this is simply not true. Even as we begin to question our rampant consumerism and energy waste we continue to impose it on developing nations.

6. "The Policies-Are-Values Trap. Progressives regularly mistake policies with values, which are ethical ideas like empathy, responsibility, fairness, freedom, justice, and so on. Policies are not themselves values, though they are, or should be, based on values. Thus, Social Security and universal health insurance are not values; they are policies meant to reflect and codify the values of human dignity, the common good, fairness, and equality."

This is interesting because truth be told all Canadian political parties state the same belief and support for Canadian values but differ greatly in how to achieve this. For example, Canadians believe in fundamental fairness but this is interpreted differently by political philosophies and policies created to achieve it. Green party policies frame this value around the policies of fair trade, tax shifting, etc. The Conservatives and Liberals frame this value around the policies of free trade and tax cuts. The NDP frames this value around job losses and unionization. The Bloq frames this value around Quebec sovereignty and separation. All parties therefore argue that unless you agree with their methods, you must not believe in the core value. When you say to a conservative who believes in free trade that he/she does not believe in fairness we alienate them rather than present them with an alternative. Making someone an enemy and ideological opposite does not get you support. If you can recognize that both of you believe in fundamental fairness but differ on the methods you can then have a dialogue. Conservatives, socialists, whoever may be in the audience will listen rather than shutting off. We need to assure progressive conservatives and business people that changing the method still achieves the same value of fairness and opportunity of prosperity. A Green economy is a prosperous, fair economy. I admit freely that I have been guilty of mixing up policies with values and am now endeavouring to alter my approach.

This blog reflects my personal opinion.
It is not official Green Party Policy.