Countdown to authoritarianism?

FrameLab looks ahead to 2024

Countdown to authoritarianism?

Ron DeSantis’ campaign is on the verge of collapse. From Bloomberg News:

“The governor has privately acknowledged to friends and allies that Trump holds so much sway over the Republican voter base that it leaves little room for alternative candidates.”

But FrameLab readers like you already knew this. In July, we told you why DeSantis’ campaign was doomed to fail in a post titled “DeSantis Disaster: Why a Wannabe Authoritarian’s Campaign Fails”:

In the authoritarian cult politics of Trump’s Republican party, the leader is like a strict father who sets the rules and doles out discipline and exerts total control over the family. To question his authority, or to make an effort to displace him, is to fundamentally violate the sacred order of the conservative moral system. The strict father must be obeyed, not betrayed.

Despite DeSantis’ best efforts to outdo the authoritarian Trump, he is learning the hard way how authoritarianism works.

The goal of FrameLab is to provide in-depth analysis of political communication. By paying attention to the deep metaphors and moral narratives underlying our politics, we hope to shed light and spread understanding of what’s really at stake.

If you value this work, please join hundreds of other FrameLab readers in becoming a paid subscriber today. FrameLab is a labor of duty and love, but paid subscriptions make this work possible. The right-wing disinformation machine is highly funded, with no comparable effort from Democrats or progressives. The choice is yours! If only 10% of our readers became paid subscribers, we could do a whole lot more in 2024.

The choice is yours! Please join hundreds of FrameLab readers in becoming a paid subscriber today. Because your support matters!

Here are some other FrameLab highlights of the past year:

FrameLab’s greatest hits (2022-2023 edition)

  1. Our most-read post of the past year analyzed Elon Musk’s efforts to use "algorithm warfare” to spread disinformation and push America to the right. From “Algorithm Warfare: How Elon Musk uses Twitter to Control Brains” (Dec. 14):
Musk’s purchase of Twitter gives him direct access to tens of millions of brains, and he is making a zealous public effort to change and control those brains by flooding them with hate and misinformation. He is working to create a social media echo chamber that forces everyone to engage the worst of extreme conservative ideas in order to make such ideas seem mainstream. He is shifting the discourse to favor election deniers, racists and insurrectionists, and to privilege lies over truth, thus turning Twitter into a social media version of Fox News.

These were the early days of Musk Twitter, before he proceeded to prove our analysis correct and changed the app’s name to X.

2. The second most-read FrameLab post provided some concrete advice for dealing with trolls. In “Response is Reward: Why You Can’t Win Debating Trolls on Twitter (Or In Life),” we set outline three handy rules for defeating trolls:

Avoid the engagement trap.

Frame the issue from your own viewpoint.

Block liberally.

FrameLab readers seem to enjoy posts that dig down into the details and provide concrete solutions. Our goal is to do more of this in 2024.

3. The third most-read FrameLab post concerned the importance of empathy. Dr. Lakoff wrote about the importance of empathy in “Why is Empathy Central to Democracy”:

Empathy is the central component of a healthy and functioning democracy. That’s because democracy is based on the principle of equal representation. Empathy is necessary to understand and respect the perspectives and experiences of diverse individuals and communities.

In a democracy, empathy can help foster social cohesion and build bridges between groups with different interests and beliefs. It can also encourage citizens to engage in civic activities and to work together towards common goals.

2024 will be a crucial year for the fate of empathy in the United States, and we’ll be writing about it.

4. This post did not make the top five for readership. But in May we wrote enthusiastically about Joe Biden’s efforts to frame the stakes of the 2024 election in terms of “freedom.” Biden’s adoption of the freedom frame matched what Dr. Lakoff has written for years, which is that freedom is the most important idea in American politics. In “Framing Freedom: Biden’s 2024 Campaign Plan,” we outlined the differences between the conservative and liberal versions of freedom and we wrote:

By emphasizing freedom, Biden is making a clear moral argument about what kind of society we want to live in. In 2024, he must draw a stark contrast between the progressive and conservative visions of freedom.

Unfortunately, it the Biden campaign appears to have veered off freedom’s course, with the ill-fated “Bidenomics” message eclipsing all else. But we expect Biden to be back on the freedom message in 2024 — because that is, after all, what is truly at stake in the next election.

Thank you!

FrameLab’s audience is growing steadily. We are grateful for your care and readership. Persistence is the best resistance. Let’s keep in going in 2024!

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green trees under cloudy sky during daytime
The White House. Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash

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