Prologue – Setting the Vision

June 1, 2007 at 8:42 pm

At first blush, this site may seem like it’s about politics. In a sense it is, but more importantly it’s about frames – or ways to articulate a vision, belief, or value.

If George Bush understands one thing, it’s that the President sets the vision. Have you ever seen him talk about how he’s going to accomplish something? Never. Instead, he will tell you his vision.

For example, he won’t talk about how he’s going to win the Iraq War. He won’t talk about what he’s doing for the economy. He won’t talk about foreign policy, energy policy, domestic policy, education, his insurance policy, any policy.

But, you say, he talks about these things all the time. What are you talking about?

Let’s look at the President’s education policy, the No Child Left Behind Act.

When President Bush talks about this act, he states that the federal government should expect results for the money it spends.

“If you believe a child can learn to read, then you ought to expect a child to read. That’s what you ought to expect. And the only way to determine that is to measure.”

This is his vision or frame. It is a vision that many people would agree with – measurable results. It’s also hard to disagree with the name of the act itself, No Child Left Behind. If you do, then you’re basically saying that you’re willing to leave some children behind. You are a horrible person.

But is he talking about policy? Yes, in the sense that he’s setting a vision. But no, in the sense that he’s not talking about how he will accomplish his goal.

This approach is successful because if he can establish agreement with his vision, he has more leverage to write the policy as he chooses.

A common trap many politicians fall into is that they talk about policy rather than the vision. Policy discussions are detailed and boring. This was perhaps the downfall of the Al Gore campaign – when he was labeled a policy wonk. What politicians should do when asked “how” they’re going to accomplish something is restate their vision.

The goal of this site is to lay out an alternative vision for many of today’s issues. This vision may form the basis for policy decisions, but remember, a leader sets the vision.