Framing the Campaign
In politics, framing is everything. For years the Republicans framed the issues so that they were always the good guys and the Democrats were the bad guys. Now it is going to be the other way around.
Barak Obama is in the process of framing his campaign and he's doing it in the context of his values and the organizational skills of Chicago politics. We see reflected in Obama's campaign the efficiency of a well-oiled political machine that serves its constituents. We also see the grass roots democracy that makes Chicago an idea that works.
In 1990, my brother, for 35 years a Chicago Tribune writer, wrote a book "The Chicagoization of America.” In that book he claimed that, at the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was America's "biggest idea," that Chicago’s "freshness and its sense of democracy became the country's" and its vigorous ideas "smothered for a time the East Coast's penchant for a more imitative and elitist culture."
With Barak Obama, Chicago is once more, at the turn of another century, stepping front and center ready to put its imprint on American culture.
Over the past eight years, the Karl Rove team framed all the issues and boasted that they created the reality that others had to react to. In a sense, they were right. They were very good at framing the issues to serve their purpose.
After 9/11, the Republicans framed everything in terms of national security and the corporate-conservative agenda. But even before that, the war on poverty was framed in terms of welfare queens in Cadillacs. Affirmative action was framed as minority privilege. The privatization attack on Social Security was framed as the ownership society. The attempt to starve the public schools for funds was framed as school choice or chartered schools.
Liberals were and still are being framed as soft -- soft on crime, soft on welfare, soft on family values and, most loathsome of all, soft on national defense. So, along comes Barak Obama who the Clinton campaign accused of being the soft one; an inexperienced and naïve beginner. The McCain supporters make the same mistake, accusing him of being the most liberal member of the United States Senate.