Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Myth Busters

Let me start this by saying that I understand Ruy Teixeira's basic point that Democrat's fascination with certain "myths of renewel" are just another example of avoiding the hard work of real renewel. I agree that we have to guard against buying into a fad or a quick-fix solution.

But I think Ruy goes to far when he dismisses various Democratic renewel efforts as "myths". None of the "myths" that Ruy describes (Framing, Innoculation, Unity and Mobilization) will, by themselves, solve the problems Democrats have. But that does not mean we should dismiss those efforts as being unproductive. Just because some latch onto one particular project as The One True Renewel Plan does not mean that those projects are pointless endeavours.

For example, while Framing by itself will not solve our problems, a failure to understand the importance of good framing will hobble our efforts. This is really the main point of Lakoff's latest efforts. He has never claimed that framing alone will solve our problems (that claim comes more from his critics, who make it just in order to debunk it). He is just pointing out that Democrats often shoot themselves in the foot by pursuing a Reason Uber Alles approach to public policy debate. The point is simple: good ideas won't matter for shit if we don't know how to communicate them.

Ruy is correct that anyone who thinks that any of these approaches alone will solve our problems is pushing a myth. But Ruy is himself pushing the Better Ideas Myth. This myth says that if Democrats just come up with some better ideas then everything else will fall into place.

Ruy does a disservice to Democrats by dividing advocates of different approaches against each other. Instead of belittling the pursuits of others as "myths" Ruy should use his considerable talents to find ways in which these various approaches can be melded into a cohesive whole.

That could go a long way towards killing the One Solution To Our Problems Myth.

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