Tension while Framing: Marketing vs. Truth

“come up with at least one story for every data point.”
 — Tim Wise

There is a long-running struggle among Democrats: do we want politicians to stick to the truth or start marketing?

Democratic politicians often speak about facts and policy without framing or marketing. Trump and even Romney built marketing campaigns full of falsehoods (flat-out lies in Trump’s case). These aren’t the only choices. It is possible to draw out stories and use marketing techniques for what you see as the truth. (Go to marketing professionals for advice, but don’t put the marketing people in charge.)

It’s important for progressives to catch ourselves when we decide to place the truth above framing: many of our politicians who don’t frame are scoring better on PolitiFact, but they are nowhere near shining examples of truth-tellers. Our side does it’s share of bending the truth, even if we think the Republicans bend it more. The truth isn’t what stops us from creating coherent stories.

Progressives should add a new “ask” to our politicians: I want to know who you work with to get your story out in a way that will influence the center of the country towards our values. If I agree with your policy, I want to know what metaphor you will use to help people understand that policy, and which other politicians are using the same frame. The stories need to be shared and repeated. Consider writing politicians asking what their underlying metaphor on an issue is, and which other Democrats use the same metaphor.

The desire to tell the truth is not what is stopping Democrats from having a more impassioned and memorable story for their position on immigration or job growth or health care.

Storytelling and building themes or using a metaphor until it is recognizable does not mean leaving facts and details behind.


Quote from Tim Wise’s post.