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writing for godot

Mainstreaming the Progressive Message in 2012

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Written by James Hosley   
Sunday, 16 September 2012 07:53
Anyone who has a passion to persuade will want to wear out the pages of this valuable handbook for progressives. Move Our Message: How to Get America’s Ear is revolutionary for its clarity in revealing the secret of successful messages. Noting that “throughout American history, ‘American Framing,’ or ‘speaking American,’ has been the only way to reach and activate large sectors of the American public,” author Strong’s goal in writing Move our Message is “to offer the most up-to-date, in-depth, and sequential presentation of what American Framing is, why it works, and how progressives can do it too.” She emphasizes the fact that American Framing done with integrity can get the truth into political debate dominated by distortions. Her background has prepared her well for unveiling these mysteries--serving as a consultant to many well-known activists, being an activist herself, and having taught in the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley as well as in the Communications Department of St. Mary’s College, Moraga, CA.

Strong notes that story-telling has always been one of the most powerful techniques for persuading others to share our point of view. Move Our Message identifies seven ideal American cultural stories that are essential themes in our political life – themes so embedded in our subconscious they are the invisible water we swim in. She opens her presentation of these stories with the “American Dream” story element, which is actually much broader than the narrow idea of consumer luxury. The “dream of a better country and of a better world” based on our “can do” and “practical” problem-solving attitude undergirds many aspects of who we are as Americans. Messages capture our imagination best when presented in a way that evokes our aspiration to “bigger and better” realities. We tend to filter out ideas that run counter to this image. The taglines she gives to the other six ideal American Story elements also illustrate the framing technique she is teaching: “Free to Succeed,” “We’re on a Roll.” (American slang long before George W. Bush used it), “Small Town Security”, “Man to Superman”, and “The American Nightmare.” These titles pique our interest to know more about the language that will evoke these ideals.

Move our Message also boldly challenges the reasons some progressives give for being reluctant to use more effective methods. Strong explains that though American Framing may seem to be too feeling-based and simplistic to some, modern cognitive science has shown that values evoked by stories persuade best. A belief that the old traditions/stories/ideals have failed us in the past may also make some reluctant to use language that calls up these older images. However, Strong notes that every successful progressive reformer in the history of our country has used those very ideals to gain momentum.

Chock-full of examples, directions, and encouragement, Move our Message empowers the reader at any level of political persuasion, whether planning a campaign or talking to relatives at the dinner table. By raising our consciousness and sensitizing us to the language of these seven American elements/stories, Move our Message liberates our thinking and empowers us in our communication with others.
_____________________________________By Sarah Hawthorne, with James Hosley

MOVE OUR MESSAGE: How to Get America’s Ear
by Susan C. Strong
The Metaphor Project (2012)
www.metaphorproject.org



Sarah Hawthorne is Associate Campus Counsel/Assistant Provost, Disability Compliance, and Assistant Provost, Academic Compliance, at the University of California, Berkeley, CA. James Hosley is an environmental and sustainability activist in Berkeley, CA.
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0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-09-17 22:49
You talk inspiration but your writing style isn't inspirational.
 

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