Friday, November 17, 2006

Example Frame: Economic Refugees

Lately the work of George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute has come to the attention of political progressives. We have come to realize that conservative ideas are indeed pervasive in all forms of media after those on the right wing have spent several decades and many millions; no, billions of dollars buiding their noise machine.

Lakoff says that the reason conservative thought has become widespread (though hardly this delusionally popular) is largely because they have correctly learned how to frame their pet issues in a way that makes these acceptable to the general public, even if such acceptance runs counter to their self-interests.

He would say that people vote their values, not their self-interests, and that the conservatives have framed their political goals in terms that appeal to those values all the while ignoring the interests of the vast majority of citizens and voters of this country. This is exactly "what's the matter with Kansas." The debate has been hijacked.

Tax relief. Social Security reform. Gay marriage. Illegal immigrants.

That last one got real big play in the recent elections, though the Republicans lackluster exploitation of this as a campaign issue seems to have bit them back. I think they were hoping it would play as well as their fierce but illogical prosecution of the gay marriage issue a cycle or two back, but it didn't for a variety of reasons.

Via Lakoff we come to many ways of reframing this issue. It could be properly labelled for what we, as progressives, believe it really is: not illegal immigration, but an issue of economic refugees.

This writer suggests we use the term "resident alien" and create a sub-class of easily deportable non-voting subsistence earners ripe for exploitation by employers who currently hire these people illegally.

"We can then allow our employers an easy way to legally put them to work. Let them pay Social Security and draw down only their contribution unless they become citizens. If they wish to become citizens, they need to follow the existing regulations.

If they commit felonies, they should be deported. If they refuse to get a resident-alien card, they will not be entitled to any benefits and would be subject to deportation."

You can see how I feel about that. It's cheaper than reinstituting slavery, I guess.

This writer has a slightly different take on the issue, presented from the ground level:

"One of her children is disabled. He is non-verbal. There is technology out there that could have an enormous impact on this little boy's life, enabling him to communicate.

However, I had to be the person to tell this mother that her son is not eligible to have "this better life" since he is not documented in the country. As she sat weeping, I wondered to myself: "There must be a better way."

Economic refugees.

If this woman and her disabled child were Cuban boat-people seeking refuge in Miami, they might be champions of Republican virtue and get some assistance. But they're not.

1 comment:

Wide Lawns Subservient Worker said...

I've just spent the entire semester studying Lakoff! Would you mind if I forwarded this post to my professor and perhaps my entire class? I think they would find this very relevant to our recent discussions.