Saturday, February 25, 2006

Whither Now, NetBoots?

We know that increasing numbers of people are scared and angered at the direction our country is headed, and are becoming willing to take action: from netroots to net boots-on-the-ground.

We know that we can educate ourselves, and coordinate our actions, using the blogs and other online tools, without having to join a club or advocacy group or otherwise lose our individual voices -- and that the cumulative effect of innumerable individual voices, if they remain energized, may be greater than the effect of one group with the same number of members.

We're learning how to amplify the things we already know and say on the blogs by encouraging individuals to spread the Blospel, using their own words and emotions, in letters to the editor, calls to talk shows, feedback to their representatives, and ad-hoc gatherings like house parties and Drinking Liberally.

We're already taking the initiative to spread the NetBoots movement more systematically, on a state-by-state level -- the Roots Project. (More here and here.)

All of which is good, but none of which, by itself, is revolutionary. So this post is to ask: what else? Is what I wrote above, taken together, an adequate Game Plan? Do you have any other ideas? What about skywriting? Do you like picketing and vigils, or do you think they tend to be underwhelming? Are there media outlets we're not considering? Should we focus on short-term dates (March 2, UAE ports deal goes through unless Congress intervenes; March 7, Senate Intelligence Committee meets again to decide whether to whitewash the NSA)? Or take a longer view and let the traditional advocacy groups keep the lead for now, since they're already set up to do so?

Please let me know what YOU think. Want democracy back? Then the people -- the virtuous mob -- have to lead. Please start right here, by taking ownership of the future. Where do you think we should go from here?


Wendy Thomson said...

Writing letters to editors, Congress, blogs, Moveon & other groups, to opinion leaders & gatekeepers at all levels--local village, town, city, state, regional, national, international; speaking on talk radio, tv, before churches, community groups, rotary clubs, masonic lodges, sewing circles, activist groups, Select(wo)men, union meetings, colleges, highschools, spectator sport watching/drinking parties, .... wherever we are communicating, we need to be very aware of our language.

It's common knowledge how masterful the neocons have been in using language. George Lakoff finally put the issue on the map for the Left, not that it hadn't been addressed by others. A fair amount of ink has been spent explaining how his analysis of the world views of neoconservatives (or just conservatives) and liberals is in some ways simplistic, reductionist, etc., and how mistaken it is to place too much importance on framing. Nevertheless, framing IS important. Metaphor IS the common currency of cultural and political understandings.

So here's a resource with some tools from another linguist, and her latest email with great advice on useful ways to talk about the UAE Portgate.

Metaphor Framing Alert: Sellout, not security!

Friends, we are in one of the biggest framing crises since 9/11. The President calls the UAE port management deal business/free trade as usual. But there's a threat behind the administration's rhetoric too-- you don't want to be seen as anti-Arab/Muslim, do you? This is a serious, far-reaching trap for all opponents to this deal.

A lot of us are falling right into it. Putting the security issue first in our sound bites and messages allows them (and the Arab/Muslim world) to say, "You didn’t squawk like this when the British got a contract, so it must be just discrimination.” The Bushies can then sound pro-Muslim, never mind they're having trashed Iraq for no good reason. But the outcry here will further anger Muslims everywhere.

The only way out of this trap is to talk about “selling American out, no matter who is buying.” No foreign corporate entity should be in charge of American ports. No corporate entity should be in charge of American ports. If anything is the job of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it’s the management of our own ports. They are the American people’s property. That's real security.

Our sound bites should be about the way the Bush bunch has been “selling America out,” selling America off (to the highest bidder),” “the great American sellout,” “the great American sell off,” “privatizing America’s property,” “outsourcing America,” “selling the people's property behind our backs” and so on.

Pass it on!

Susan C. Strong, Ph.D.
The Metaphor Project

Gentleman Jim said...

The way you frame a debate with language pretty much determines the outcome.

I use the term NeoConJobs because it frames the true predispositions of the players.

The New Con Jobs are the 21 century equivilant of the Ponzi schemes of the 20's.

Will Joe Middle class connect the numbers? Time will time.