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Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 10:25 AM PDT

Say “Rebate," not "Dividend”

by SusanCStrong

Pollution billows off a gas plant in California.
Say “Rebate," not "Dividend”

by Susan C. Strong

Although there is some good news about growing levels of renewable and energy efficiency worldwide, we still need a much more vigorous climate change response, especially in the U.S. Right now California and the American West are looking down the barrel of a devastating drought with no end in sight. Methane sinks from Alaska to Siberia are thawing, off-gassing their intensely polluting contents. There is even worrisome evidence that sea water in the North Atlantic is being diluted by glacial melt water in ways that could shut down the Gulf Stream, leading to dangerous climate effects.  Here at home we have a climate shock denying Congress, and states that are forbidding staff to say the words “climate change.” Out in the grass roots, we have disbelief in science and fear of being socially ostracized by conservative communities if a member says he or she believes in climate change. At rock bottom it’s all about “future shock,” a concept worth reviewing now. That phrase comes from a 1970 Alvin Toffler book of that name, which seems even more prescient now than when it first appeared.  Confronting and responding to both the actual climate effects and today’s climate deniers does seem like a tall order. But we can do more to empower those who want to speed up the pace of change. To begin with, we can do a better job of framing simple “first aid” solutions in a truly mainstream way. That’s just survival tactics now.

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Chamber (empty) of the U.S. House
Countering the GOP “Sabotage America” Campaign

By Susan C. Strong

As everybody knows, our GOP-dominated Congress is deep into a full scale “sabotage America” campaign. Everything is under massive attack, from our negotiations with Iran to the perfectly legal way Social Security Disability Insurance has always been funded. (More  info here in 1. below.)  Their full scale demolition derby could dismantle almost everything about America as we know it. They are even willing to see the climate disruption radically drying out our American west go unchecked. I’m not going to go into any more detail here—you already know it all of it. The real question is what can we do now, while we wait impatiently for 2016?

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Statue of Liberty
Freedom is our most widely shared value.

My "Speaking American" TEDxVail Video is up on YouTube!

by Susan C. Strong

Friends, my short 1.09.15 TEDxVail Talk video, How Speaking American Can Help Save America, is finally up on YouTube. It’s about how to address those who don’t agree with us. And it includes proof that with the right verbal and social tactics, it’s possible for grass roots Americans to communicate effectively about solving our national problems. Part of my message is based on the pioneering work of an organization called Living Room Conversations. Check them out too!

Here’s the link for my talk:

https://www.youtube.com/...

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Susan C. Strong, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of The Metaphor Project and author of our new book, Move Our Message: How to Get America’s Ear.  The Metaphor Project has been helping progressives mainstream their messages since 1997. Follow Susan on Twitter @SusanCStrong.

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This is the archetypal American Barn, raised by friendly neighbors. We can do this together, again, now.
This is the archetypal American Barn, raised by friendly neighbors. We can do this together, again, now.
The “One Big Family” Frame in 2015

By Susan C. Strong

As everyone knows, the most fundamental crisis in America today is the fierce partisan divide we have in government. This situation makes collaboration or cooperation in solving the nation's problems across party lines appear impossible everywhere. Appear? Certainly in national and state politics it's real. But what about at the grass roots level? In 2014 The PEW Research Center did a series of studies about where the real American people are these days. (1) True, they found that the number of those adhering to the extremes has grown since 1994. But their statistics also show that the majority of our people detest partisan conflict and hold so wide range of views that politicians are struggling to come up with messages to reach them all.That finding suggests to me that the “One Big Family” frame is alive and kicking in the grass roots. And I have some other kinds of proof too. (2)  But let’s start with a closer look at the One Big Family frame itself. Here's what I first wrote about it in 2005:

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Middle Fork Eel River, just before the confluence at Dos Rios, April 2011
A Watershed Metaphor for These Times

By Susan C. Strong

Of course right now everyone on the left and among the Democrats is feeling shocked and down because of the horrid 2014 election. There’s been a torrent of analysis and blaming on our side. Although many factors were in play, one stands out. That’s the role of corrupt corporate money in fueling Right wing victories and hamstringing Democratic alternatives. But much more will be needed to repair our election funk than analysis and blame. More even than trying to force Democrats to move off their usual pale red 1% corporate agenda. I’m talking about something for us now, a vision that could serve us as a source of hope and wisdom for the long haul ahead. That something could be the watershed metaphor.

 

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Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 10:15 AM PDT

Framing a Why vote? Message

by SusanCStrong

Voters stand in line to cast their ballot at Hartford City Hall during the U.S. presidential election in Hartford, Connecticut, November 6, 2012. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin
Help make this the scene in 2014 too!

Framing a "Why vote?" Message

by Susan C. Strong

At this point the Right has got their election rap down pat, and the Democrats have already written their ads, phone scripts, door to door canvassing messages and other media. So what is left for us regular citizens to do about framing the issues and getting out the vote? Folks in the know are deeply aware of what rides on this particular Congressional election. If we on the progressive end lose the Senate completely, our country is going to be in much, much deeper trouble. But as everyone also knows, the biggest problem in a Congressional election year is getting everyone who could vote to actually do it. That is where we citizens can still make a difference.

What are the reasons people most often give for not voting? A. The parties are all the same B. What happens in DC does not affect me. C. Voting will not make a difference. But here is the thing: trying to answer or argue against these reasons is a trap. As cognitive science clearly shows, arguing will simply reinforce your listener's strongly held beliefs. What we need to do is change the ground of the conversation completely, to something that has personal emotional resonance.  Here are some suggestions for doing that job.

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Climate activists
It's a necessity!
Framing Climate Change Action Now:Advice, Slogans, & The "Necessity" Frame

by Susan C. Strong

Right now many people are preparing for the People's Climate March, in New York or in many locations around the country. So I'm getting requests for slogan ideas for signs and other demonstration pr. Below are three items that can give folks some ideas about what to say on signs and other demonstration media. 1.The first is a general suggestion to visit The Metaphor Project site, with directions for finding relevant articles I've written about framing climate change for the general public. 2. The second is a list of slogans I've generated for the March next week. 3. The third is a link to what I think is a very significant development in framing the issue: the "necessity" defense which emerged today in reports of a decision re two climate change activists who blocked a coal shipment from unloading in Rhode Island.  

 

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Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 08:08 AM PDT

Stopping the Mega-Corp Coup

by SusanCStrong

House of Representatives chamber full
Stopping the Mega-Corp Coup  

By Susan C. Strong

What could make Americans say “enough!” to mega-corporations’ meddling?  Examples of it are everywhere now: the attempt to privatize water in Detroit, massive cuts to public education in Mississippi, Burger King’s tax evading move to Canada, to name just a few. (1)  Their goal?  Extracting the last dollar of corporate profit from increasingly desperate people by privatizing everything we need --water, education, clean energy, public lands and resources, you name it. Cut public funding, cut taxes for the rich, cut or flee corporate taxes, then claim the government has no money and spends too much.  Cut the rules that protect the public from corporate toxics and every other kind of harm, including devastating global climate change. Why is it still working?

 

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"One BIG thing we've noticed since the last time we were here----Kauai has gone solar!!!  Solar panels are everywhere now!  I especially like the way they made covered parking with solar panels on the roofs."
Say “Let’s get to climate safety fast!” (Reframing Divestment Now)

by Susan C. Strong

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released 4.03.14, strongly urges a  fast shift to clean energy.  Since the last report, carbon emissions have accelerated to unprecedented levels. Impact on land, sea, and air is growing catastrophic much faster than scientists predicted. Yet national governments continue to drag their feet about mandating the shift to clean energy.  Why? We all know the answer: because of the PR and political power of the fossil fuel lobby. In this context, urging large financial investors to sell their fossil fuel stocks takes on critical new importance. But predictably enough, a consortium of some fossil fuel companies (Exxon excepted) just responded by issuing their own call for governments to act. They suggested a large carbon emissions cap (BT, Shell and corporates call for trillion tonne carbon cap). Whether or not these companies were being honest or just tactical really doesn’t matter. The new report and their move do change the way we should be framing the divestment argument now.

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National Security: Going “Up” or “Down?”

By Susan C. Strong, for The Metaphor Project

In his January State of the Union message, President Obama said two noteworthy things: the first was “America must move off a permanent war footing.” Of course this remark was preceded and followed by a lot of predictable stuff about keeping America strong by military means. But the President did preface the bold remark I’ve cited above with another comment of interest, “But I strongly believe that our leadership and our security cannot depend on our military alone.” What if, instead of just dismissing these items as pure political boilerplate, we edit his statements just a bit to read: “Today our leadership in the world and our security at home depend on using powerful alternatives to war, threats of war,  war-proxy drone attacks, and mega-spying. In today’s world, those hostile acts just make our national security “go down.” But smart peace-building moves make our national security “go up.” We would then have the start of an important new frame about the way state violence and invasive mega-spying not only fail to protect Americans today, they also invite attack.

Why the emphasis on “today” or “now?” Because one of the most important aspects of a changed national security effort is that today the world has changed—the worldwide web and modern transportation have in fact changed the world into a global village.

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SOS: Framing the Climate Protection Act Now

by Susan C. Strong

Senators Boxer and Sanders are now back on track promoting their Climate Protection Act (see http://m.sfgate.com/....), and I am happy to note that they describe what companies would pay as a carbon "fee," not a "tax." After all, it's a "pay to play" situation for business, and that is the definition of a "fee," not a tax. The primary goal of the fee is to raise the price of carbon, not to raise money in the way a tax does. In fact, we'd better not get dependent on funds raised by carbon fees, because in the end we want those fees to become unnecessary as the U.S. moves to a truly sustainable energy economy. And I don't have to tell my Daily Kos readers that calling a thing a "tax" means it will be DOA in D.C. We simply cannot afford that kind of framing disaster now. The bill also specifies that a lot of the money raised by fees will be returned to the public, as energy prices inevitably rise. What to call those returned funds? On this point there has been another very unfortunate, persistent framing error in some sectors of the climate action movement and the media.  

 

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Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 07:57 AM PST

Reframing “Obamacare” Now

by SusanCStrong

Reframing “Obamacare” Now

by Susan C. Strong

The administration’s decision to adopt the Right’s “Obamacare” frame for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been incomprehensible for a long time. But now it is becoming mortally dangerous.(1) And not just for Obama and the Democrats—for all the sick people who suddenly can get care now via the ACA, care the Right wants to snatch away. As analysts George Lakoff and Robert Reich have noted, the Right has set up a complete framing campaign to destroy the Affordable Care Act; they want to use it to take the Senate in 2014, and the presidency in 2016.(2) But we progressives and liberals still don’t have enough of the powerful counter-frames we need—the simple, easily understood catch phrases and storytelling metaphors that can effectively counter the Right’s attack frames.

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