Friday, August 19, 2005

On real liberal values

Okay, so there's been a lot of talk lately about ways the Democrats can start their comebacks in 2006 and, more importantly, 2008. One of the biggest issues has been simply framing, which is the subject of George Lakoff's book Don't Think of an Elephant. Lakoff writes about how Repubs have become the party of values simply by talking about them, by endorsing life and family and freedom and safety and rainbows and puppies (well, maybe not rainbows), while Democrats tend to focus on issues like education, the environment, the war in Iraq, and the economy. It sounds good, but like the advertising axiom that people don't want to buy a shovel, they want to buy a hole, Americans don't buy issues. They buy the values that those issues represent.

Enter Paul Begala:
Such is the hatred of the far right at the dawn of the 21st Century. And my how the optical worm has turned. Today it is the left invoking faith, flag and family, while the right destroys crosses. Today it is the left that honors the war dead, raises up a Gold Star Mother and publicly prays for our troops, while the right viciously attacks a woman who gave her country everything. Today it is the left that patiently and peacefully respects the Office of the Presidency, while the right diminishes the office by claiming it's more important for the President to go bike-riding with a sports hero than comfort the mother of a war hero.

For the last two presidential elections it has been the Democratic Party whose nominee was a Vietnam War veteran, while the Republicans have sputtered out spurious defenses of their candidate's deceitful draft-dodging.

On Thursday, Dick Cheney, who said he had "other priorities" in the Vietnam era, and so helped himself to five draft deferments, will address the 73rd Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I do not think he will express remorse for the callousness with which he explained his cowardice. Nor do I expect him to apologize for the shocking, mocking Republicans who, at their New York Convention a year ago, sported Band-Aids with tiny purple hearts to mock the blood shed by John Kerry and so many other heroes in that misbegotten war.

No, Mr. Cheney, surrounded by body guards who would gladly give their life for him, will no doubt wrap himself in the flag. A flag Larry Chad Northern wrapped around his axle on Prairie Chapel Road.

This is an opportunity for the Democratic party. This is our opening. But we have to do it right. It's not enough to point out the hypocrisy in the right's pro-troop stance; we have to take back Patriotism. And it's not enough to point out the despicable ways that conservative columnists and bloggers have been trashing a grieving mother; we have to take back Family. Conservatives have been complaining for a while that we on the left never do anything but trash Republicans, and there's actually some truth to that. It's not enough to point out how they're wrong. We have to point out how we're right, and how we've been right for quite some time, if everyone had just paid attention.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

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