Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Framing Katrina

Framing Katrina
Hurricane Katrina revealed the failure of conservative philosophy; liberals need to stand up for their approach to governing.

By George Lakoff and John Halpin
American Prospect
Web Exclusive: 10.07.05

Hurricane Katrina exposed far more than rank incompetence and negligence by Bush administration officials. It showed Americans, in full force, the intellectual bankruptcy of modern conservatism. With millions of Americans displaced in the hurricane’s aftermath, and thousands needlessly injured or dead, the nation witnessed the pillars of modern conservative ideology -- less government, lower taxes, a strong defense -- crumble. Conservatives have lectured Americans for three decades about the evils of government and the need for a stronger nation. Turns out, the biggest threat to America’s future and security is the complete dominance of government by a conservative ideology incapable of understanding and addressing our greatest needs.

Whoever succeeds in framing Katrina will have enormous power to shape America’s future. Progressives started out with the framing advantage, because empathy, responsibility, and fairness are what progressives are about. Conservatives started out with a big disadvantage, because they promised to protect us and they failed.

But the conservatives filled the framing gap so quickly and effectively that, if progressives don’t respond immediately, conservatives may be able to parlay this disaster into an even greater power grab than they made out of September 11.

Here’s where the Katrina framing war stands.

Conservatives understand full well the importance of framing. They are busily framing Katrina to advance their right-wing agenda and expand their power. Their message is simple: The hurricane proves that conservatives were right all along....