STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the category “Civil rights issues”

The George Orwell Party (GOP) is Stripping Away Our Right to Vote, While Pretending to Solve a Make Believe Problem!

Voting is fundamental to our democracy.  It enables each citizen to have a say in how our nation should be governed. We have faith in this process, and expect those we elect to represent us to stand up for our interests on a variety of issues that directly impact our lives.  We all want to be happy and healthy.  We all want clean air to breathe, safe food to eat, and non-contaminated water to drink.  We all want a proper education for our children, someone to keep us safe from harm, and an equal opportunity to prosper in life.

However, since our founding, the very voting rights that enable us to have a say in how we are governed were not always a given. Voting rights in the United States were strictly limited to the privileged class when this country was founded.

“In most states, only white men with property were permitted to vote (freed African Americans could vote in four states). White working men, almost all women, and all other people of color were denied the franchise. At the time of the American Civil War, most white men were allowed to vote, whether or not they owned property, but literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests were used in various places, and most white women, people of color, and Native Americans still could not vote.”

Ever since these voting rights were successfully won for poor whites, blacks and women, the Republican Party has adamantly fought to disenfranchise and suppress these voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

Instead of encouraging the right to vote for all citizens in this country, as seen in other nations like Australia, where the voter turn-out is greater than 90%, our Republican politicians are busy devising strategies to take away the right to vote for certain populations.  Today, those populations are the poor, minorities, the elderly, and the younger generation.

I’m afraid that this is what the GOP means when they say they want to “take this country back.”  They want to take it back to an era where only a select few privileged folks get to determine what happens to the rest of us.  Perhaps, if we encouraged active participation in our democracy by modeling nations with a proven track record in near full voter participation in the democratic process, then we wouldn’t need to waste time focusing on make believe attempts of people trying to vote more than once at the polls.

There is absolutely no evidence supporting the GOP claim that individuals are engaging in some type of purposeful act of misrepresenting who they are come election time. In fact, according to an article in think progress, “In the wake of the 2010 elections, numerous GOPcontrolled states have adopted so-called “voter ID” laws to target the entirely fabricated problem of in-person voter fraud. Such voter fraud is so uncommon that a voter is 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to actually commit fraud at the polls.”

Despite reality, this does not stop Republican politicians from pretending there is a problem.  This is what the GOP, or the new party of the pretenders does.  They hire unethical pollsters and language manipulators like Frank Luntz, who poll tests and focus group approves language that is proven to resonate with those on the left, right and most importantly, independent voters.  Let’s face it.  No one likes “voter fraud.”  No one likes “illegal immigrants.”  Everyone likes “fair elections.”  This is the type of language Frank Luntz consistently arms the party of the pretenders with to manipulate public opinion in favor of supporting an ideological agenda that serves to do the very opposite of what they pretend to be in favor of.

One such pretender went as far as writing a letter to the attorney general, Eric Holder taking this make believe idea to a whole new level by insisting that this type of behavior is occurring.  In his letter, Congressman Rooney (R-Fl) stated, “Florida has uncovered a widespread problem of illegal and erroneous voter registration, exposing as many as 182,000 registered voters as non-U.S. citizens.”

This outright blatant distortion of reality goes hand in hand with the attempts of the radical right wing governor Rick Scott to suppress the vote of 182,000 poor folks, elderly and young-adult citizens, who are inclined to vote Democratic.

Part of the GOP strategy to advance their ideological agenda is to evoke the appropriate language that resonates with the left, right and center every time they are faced with a question on an issue central to their vision for America.  In this particular case of voter suppression, that language is voter fraud, and fair elections.  As reported by the Miami Herald, when questioned about his decision to engage in voter suppression, Rick Scott not only tried to place blame on the Obama administration for his decision (GOP strategy 101), but consistently evoked the frames mentioned above by saying, “We need to have fair elections. When you vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote. That’s what I care about.”

This is the party of the pretenders in action.  They pretend to want fair elections and protect our right to vote, among other rights and freedoms, when all they are really concerned with is doing the opposite by taking them away from us.  Pretending to be in favor of what matters to us is an effective strategy of advancing an agenda that actually requires the denial of our rights, freedoms and protections under the law.

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What priorities are being set for our nation? Are they the same priorities you would choose?

The GOP constantly cries over the debt limit and evokes the “spending problem” in Washington “frame” every time our Democratic representatives seek to place a priority on human needs. Paying for human needs with the common wealth we all contribute to helps sustain an America that works together.  Unfortunately, some of us are unable to contribute to the common wealth due to disease or an unfortunate disability, as well as those who have retired after working their entire lives, who become eligible to receive the earned benefits they contributed to during their most productive years.

We show empathy and care for these individuals by coming together as one nation to provide the essential services necessary to support their needs. Without the common wealth these people would not be protected, much like the millions of Americans currently living in poverty and the many Americans who die each year as a result of not being able to afford health coverage for their families.  Paying for human needs is essential for our nation to continue to be strong, along with investments in education, science and technology, and caring for our veteran population that bravely serve our country.  These priorities are reflected in the budget and tax policies our elected representatives advocate for and pass.

What are our national priorities?

Take a look at this chart from the National Priorities Project and consider what priorities you think we should adopt for our nation, and compare that to what our nations priorities actually are at this moment.

When our elected representatives decide to place a priority on spending the common wealth as can be seen in the chart above, we are sending the message to our friends, family members, and neighbors alike that we don’t care about the suffering of others.  We don’t care about education for our children.  We don’t care about investing in science and technology.  We don’t care about providing for those who are unable to provide for themselves.  We don’t care about our wounded soldiers who return from war.  When we enact immoral budget and tax policies that exclude the needs of the people, and ignore making crucial investments in our future, we not only increase the burden being placed on our families and communities, but we also send the message to other nations that we don’t care about each other.  It appears the one thing we do care about is increased military spending.  As indicated in this chart, we are spending the lion’s share of our tax dollars on military spending, at the expense of other social programs that provide for the needs of our citizens.

Even if we were to accept the frame put out there by pollsters working for the GOP regarding our “spending problem” in Washington, then we should at least be curious as to how that money is being spent.  If it is acceptable to spend nearly 60% of our discretionary spending on the military, then why not shift our priorities, and start focusing on the needs of our citizens, instead of using our tax dollars (ie, the common wealth) to build an empire around the globe, bomb and destroy communities abroad, and create more enemies in the process. We didn’t always spend this much on our military.  Even at the height of World War II, we spent a fraction of the cost we are spending today. The increase in military spending has more than doubled under former President George W. Bush’s watch to the point that we are now spending more money on our military than the rest of the world combined!

For the most part, the increased spending on the military was used to enrich shareholders of Haliburton and it’s subsidiaries (Dick Cheney’s former company) who received no bid contracts courtesy of Dick Cheney and former President Bush’s effective use of our Government to suppress competition. Rather than being used to keep us safe and protect us, which is the language the GOP repeatedly runs with when discussing increased military spending, Bush and Co. effectively used the power of the federal government to suppress competition and enrich fellow members of the privileged sector. This by the way is a textbook example of what the GOP’s frame of “picking winners and losers” is all about.  Just like the “spending problem” in Washington frame, also referred to as the fictitious “tax and spend” Liberal, the “picking winners and losers” frame was purposely crafted to be repeated endlessly when facing any opposition to the GOP’s efforts to place a priority on corporate greed over human needs.

The National priorities project is an excellent resource for showing us what we could experience in this country if we simply shift our priorities.  For example, instead of spending $22,000 per second to create enemies abroad, we could hire thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police officers, not to mention jump-start this economy by getting ahead of our national competitors in the development of clean, safe, fuels of the future like wind and solar power that will never run out, as opposed to focusing on dirty, unsafe fuels of the past that are polluting our planet and lungs, not to mention the devastating effects it will have on our economy when they do run out. This will finally eliminate (not just reduce) our dependence on foreign oil, increase our national security, and provide the desperately needed economic stimulus to get us back on track and working together as one nation.

Ultimately, the spending issue frame boils down to placing a priority on protecting and enriching the privileged in this country, (GOP led priorities) or protecting human needs and providing an equal opportunity for every citizen to pursue life, liberty and happiness by coming together in support of human needs over corporate greed (Democratic priorities).

The commonality of being black and gay in America: Same old story different “framing.” The question today is, do you support “gay marriage” or the “freedom to marry?”

Jonathan Capehart wrote an article in the Washington post on the commonality between blacks and gays in America.  When asked by MSNBC’s host Joe Scarborough, “would you compare the civil rights struggles of African Americans over 300 years in America to marriage equity?”, he immediately responded, yes!

“It’s an issue of civil rights… It’s an issue of equality. It’s an issue of equal treatment under the law,”… “No one is asking for special rights. No one is asking for any kind of special favors. We’re just looking for the same rights and responsibilities that come with marriage and also the protections that are provided under marriage. In that regard overall we’re talking about a civil rights issue and what African Americans continue to struggle with is exactly what lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are struggling with today.”

In addition, he mentioned the fact that both African Americans and gays have been the target of physical attacks due to being who they are, as well as other forms of discrimination suffered under the law.

“What links the two struggles is the quest for equality, dignity and equal protection under the law. In short, gay rights are civil rights. It’s that simple.”

The simple, but ugly truth is that the radical right wing in this country is adamantly opposed to gay people getting married, which is precisely why they frame the issue as “gay marriage.” They use this frame to garner support for their position so they can later point to polls that show people are against “gay marriage.”

According to George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley, “Surveys have been done that say Americans are overwhelmingly against gay marriage. Well, the same surveys show that they also overwhelmingly object to discrimination against gays. These seem to be opposite facts, but they’re not. “Marriage” is about sex. When you say “gay marriage,” it becomes about gay sex, and approving of gay marriage becomes implicitly about approving of gay sex. And while a lot of Americans don’t approve of gay sex, that doesn’t mean they want to discriminate against gay people. Perfectly rational position. Framed in that way, the issue of gay marriage will get a lot of negative reaction. But what if you make the issue “freedom to marry,” or even better, “the right to marry”? That’s a whole different story. Very few people would say they did not support the right to marry who you choose. But the polls don’t ask that question, because the right wing has framed that issue.”

In the end, the hatred felt for both blacks and gays in this country not only stems from the way in which a question is “framed”, (in terms of how it is worded)  but more importantly, the destructive emotions and negative beliefs derived from this and other “frames” used by the radical right wing, reflect a world-view of intolerance, obedience to (their) authority, and fear of change.

The question we must ask ourselves is are we in favor of equality for all, which includes the freedom, or right to marry who we choose, or should we accept the radical right wing “frames” that tell us who we should love, who we should hate, who we should fear, and who we should obey?

 

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