Resources | American Political Framing Tools | Red, Blue and Purple

Red, Blue and Purple

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The ideal American cultural story contains a variety of elements. Some are more favored by conservatives and others by liberals and progressives. In general, almost everyone agrees in principle with most of the ideal American vision items about what kind of nation we are supposed to be: free, equal, honest, fair, democratic, and so on. (See the American Nation story element in Some American Story Elements That Evoke Core Values.)

Red state conservatives of all types tend to put more emphasis on the Free To Succeed category of ideas and language. They think that the private individual is responsible alone, and that too much government or regulation is a problem. Blue state liberals and progressives are more in sympathy with the Small Town Security story element. They see protecting the common good of America as the rightful business of government. They put their emphasis on fostering healthy public community.

Because of a long process of congressional 'safe seat' redistricting, the most important category in American politics right now is purpleso-called'moderate' Republicans disturbed by radical right excesses. This group believes in fiscal prudence in government, caution in international adventures, especially war, but shares blue concerns about public community and the common good. Though more socially conservative than blues, members of the purple (Lakoff's strongly 'biconceptuals) group may tend toward economic populism in their beliefs and voting habits.

That means they often favor BOTH Free To Succeed elements and Small Town Security. For the greatest message success, we must select and recombine appropriate aspects of these story elements in ways that appeal to the purple group. (See Longer Example of American Framing for a 'selecting and recombining' example and also June 2005: Speaking American About Economic Justice.)

For more information on telling American stories with broad appeal, including sources, see Why 'Speak American?' and the American Studies section of Selected Sources and Links, especially the work of Paul Ray.

Another valuable resource for thinking about communicating with mainstream Americans is the work of Professor Jonathan Haidt. See the following websites: