A major determining factor in a person’s political views is the frame in which he or she thinks about an issue. Nevertheless people often assume (either honestly or for rhetorical purposes) that their political opponents evaluate issues in the same frame as they do.
This happens on both sides. Many conservatives and libertarians say erroneously that liberals are trying to destroy our liberties. In fact, most liberals are earnestly trying to improve the world according to their own standards, and their policies’ destructive effect on personal liberty is either an unconsidered side-effect or a necessary (to them) evil. Very few people are evil in their own eyes.
I was struck by this once again while watching Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) dismissal of concerns about the Democratic health care “reform” plan:
BOXER: . . . All of this is a diversion by the people who want to, frankly, hurt President Obama. You’ve heard the Republican senator Jim DeMint say it, Let’s make this Obama’s Waterloo. Let’s break him.
BOXER: That’s what this is about. . .
BOXER: This is all planned. It’s to hurt our president and it’s to change the Congress.
And you know what? We went to the White House today. We heard President Obama. It was wonderful to hear him. He’s so calm and cool about this. He says, We got to be tougher. We got to be stronger.
(ASIDE: This interview also made news because of Boxer’s contention that well-dressed protesters cannot possibly be sincere.)
This is certainly revealing of Senator Boxer’s frame. To her, apparently, this debate is all about Barack Obama. But for us, her opponents, that’s not the frame at all. We oppose nationalization of medicine because it will lead to health care rationing and the loss of our freedom to make our own health care decisions. It doesn’t matter who is pushing it, we opposed it under Clinton and we oppose it under Obama.
Another example is Janeane Garofalo’s dismissal of the tea party movement:
Let’s be very honest about what this is about. It’s not about bashing Democrats, it’s not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don’t know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks.
Again, it is revealing that Garofalo sees the debate over runaway spending as being primarily about the president’s race. I do pity her for having such a blinkered view of the world. It is certainly not ours. For the tea party movement, the issue is reckless fiscal policy that began under President Bush and accelerated horrifically under President Obama. The issue is our government uselessly running up a huge debt that it can never repay without catastrophic tax increases or inflation.