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Resources | American Framing Steps | Introduction: How To Speak American

Introduction: How To Speak American

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The Metaphor Project believes that being clear about our values is important. Framing our messages to reach the broadest American audience is vital for our success today. To be effective, we need to begin by evoking the best American ideals‚ the way America should be, a vision we share too.

That vision is our nation's best national story of who we are as a people. It includes ideas about who we want to be, and the ways we get there. It draws on the values and ideas embedded in our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It's much more than actual American history, past or present. The ideal is a nation that stands for equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, at home and abroad, for everyone.

From the beginning, this vision has been used by progressive activists to expand the actual expression of those values in American life. It's our turn to 'speak American' now. (For more on the rationale for 'Speaking American', see What Is 'Speaking American?', and Why 'Speak American?' To do this work best, we need to start by framing our messages using the words, phrases, images or metaphors that evoke the best American values in everyday political communication.

For example, if politicians refer to 'playing by the rules,' we all know they are talking about fairness. And fairness is a bedrock American value we all share. By selecting and combining carefully, we can use ideal American themes to create the honest sound bites we need to open up political dialogue in this country. See American Framing Steps for step by step instructions.

See also Advanced American Mainstreaming for tips about when to frame your message so that it fits common American assumptions and when to frame it to jar your audience with attention getting novelty. For a more detailed example, see Longer Example of American Framing. Take a look at Tips for Using Your Creations During A Conversation too.