2022 NARRATIVE PREDICTIONS
Editor’s Note: I ran into this page about two weeks ago. So far, it’s somewhat accurate. Regardless, it was a great read.
AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS
Our first narrative prediction for 2022: is America at a Crossroads. America herself will be a primary character this year as people argue over the country’s founding, its promise, who and what she is now, and what she will become. The fight for America’s identity will be leveraged across different audiences to think through and make sense of the world around them and will activate people at an emotional level.
We can expect America at a Crossroads narrative to cut across many issue areas. It will be a driving force in conversations around the midterm elections, the local and global economy, immigration, and climate, to name just a few.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
There are several keys and competing narratives that will play a major role in the year ahead:
- America is in decline — The U.S. is no longer a global power; the U.S. is no longer exceptional.
- America is in competition — The U.S. is competing for dominance on the global stage.
- America is transforming — The U.S. can work cooperatively on the global stage; the U.S. can reach its full potential.
- The American way of life is at risk; we need a return to bipartisanship, civility, and unity.
- The American way of life is at risk; polarization is destroying the fabric of our country.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF COVID’S ROLE IN THE NARRATIVE LANDSCAPE
➭ COVID-19 is one of the primary reasons that America at the Crossroads narratives will be so prominent this year. The pandemic lay bare the conflicting values across the U.S. and further exposed core, competing narratives — most critically around the role of government, the economy, personal liberty, collective freedom, and safety.
The divergence among people who live in the U.S., mixed and confusing attempts by the government to support people during crises alongside an explosion of mutual aid to fill the gaps put America at the Crossroads front and center.
➭ We’re still being changed by the pandemic. As narratives, ideas, and values about what is “normal” continue to evolve, the volume of conversation around COVID is waning. Last year, we saw its presence in virtually every conversation; its prevalence this year has declined as stories lifting up the shift towards “normalcy” have increased.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be moments where conversations about COVID are dominant, and it doesn’t mean that it won’t inform our current context, but the window for advancing new narratives through COVID-based stories is narrowing.
ENCOUNTERING THE MANY SHADES OF NATIONALISM
➭ Competing narratives about America at a Crossroads will use nationalist frames to talk about the fate of the country. We’ll see trends that use nationalist and right-wing populist frames to amplify America First stories and pit America against global rivals — especially China and Russia.
Trends will leverage anti-communist and anti-socialist messaging across ideology, uplifting global competition, sinophobia, and Cold War-style American superiority. We can expect lots of stories about immigration and the economy, a focus on the white working class, and international stories that center on the U.S. and ignore interdependence between countries.
➭ At the same time, Stories about belonging will both expand and contract. We will see simultaneously narrow ideas of belonging that exclude non-Christians, people of color, and immigrants from national identity as well as an invitation to a set of new, sometimes unexpected additions.
The way different identity groups are positioned within ideological battles will be a key place for us to pay attention to as the right-wing tries to expand their base and explicitly recruit LGBTQ people, white suburban mothers, Latinos of faith, Black men and youth, and more.
➭ We’ll also see some trends that seek to recuperate the notion of patriotism, national pride, and American exceptionalism outside of the dominant conservative frame. Stories in this vein will focus on ensuring the United States lives up to its potential, lament the decline of America’s role as a global leader, celebrate American companies and local production and focus on domestic issues like child care, the American worker, and climate justice at home.
DEMOCRACY IN THE BALANCE
The second narrative prediction for 2022: Democracy in the Balance. The notion that democracy lies in the balance will be critical this coming year. After the chaos of the Trump years, false claims of voter fraud and stolen elections, the assault on the Capitol on January 6th, and the passage of anti-democratic laws in statehouses across the country, democracy is on shaky ground.
We are witnessing ongoing assaults on democracy; as Jay Rosen says, “there are two parties in America and one of them is anti-democratic.” But those promoting anti-democratic policies make the same claims and advance the same narratives about the threat to democracy, albeit with a slightly different flavor.
They suggest that Democrats and progressives are threatening U.S. democracy, rigging elections, silencing dissent, and using Marxism and socialism to erode democratic governance. (Many scholars rightly identify this tactic as dangerous speech and a hallmark of authoritarian tendencies.)
This trend is not just a U.S. problem, it is a global problem. Worrisome shifts towards authoritarianism have been on the rise for some time — from Orbán and Bolsonaro to Zemmour and Duterte; many of these leaders and their networks are connected, share narratives, and echo each other in messaging.
We can expect an increase in volume around Democracy in the Balance narratives across the board in 2022, partially driven by the midterm elections, congressional redistricting in the United States, and international events of note.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
- Republicans are destroying democracy
- Democrats are destroying democracy
- Fascism and white supremacy are an existential threat to democracy at a global scale
- People of color, “the rainbow coalition” are an existential threat to America
- Socialism is an existential threat to democracy at a global scale
- America is too large and fractured — we should break it up
- America has never been and can never be a democracy
VOTING WILL TAKE CENTER STAGE
In an election year, we’ll see increased volume around voting as a right and voting as a privilege, especially in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and Texas; all critical states where voting rights have been under attack for years.
Those amplifying voting as a right will target GOP leaders and call out voter suppression and authoritarian tactics while pushing for federal voting rights legislation. They will also focus heavily on the fear of a Republican take-over to get out the vote and mobilize folks during the midterms.
Those advancing voting as a privilege will have much more varied targets and will likely use local rather than national figures in their stories. They will focus on public officials at the state and municipal level and vilify the formerly incarcerated, voters of color, folks within the LGBTQI+ umbrella, and non-English speaking voters.
The same mis-and-disinformation we observed in 2020 around voter fraud, “election integrity”, and faulty voting machines will be prevalent. Anti-democratic elected and public figures will continue to accuse “others” of rigging elections and spreading disinformation. These conversations will highlight Big Tech as a scapegoat and contain narratives surrounding voting and the role of government oversight on corporate responsibility.
DIFFERENT FLAVORS OF GOVERNMENT MISTRUST
The level of trust people have in government is at an all-time low. Regardless of ideology, geography, and demographics, anti-government sentiment and government distrust are common. This trend will be highly visible and dominate public discourse in 2022.
Story trends we expect to see here include increasing agreement about a government that is compromised and cannot act. Simultaneously, there will be a decrease in stories about our ability to transform the role of government and advance an ambitious agenda that takes care of all people and reimagines how society is organized.
COMPETITION AND SCARCITY BASED TRENDS WILL RETURN IN FULL FORCE
Competition-based stories (like state vs federal, rural vs urban, or red vs blue) seek to tell a bigger story about which political party is defending democracy and who can lead America out of the crossroads. They hinge on competing narratives about individual liberties vs the collective good; abundance vs scarcity.
We have seen these stories deployed strategically in the past (think mask mandates or PPE acquisition) and as the midterm elections draw near, we’ll likely see trends that make use of competition to appeal to voters continuing to peddle the idea that there is not enough to go around.
In 2020 and 2021, we saw that exemplified in the ongoing stories of GOP Governors Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem, and Ron DeSantis’s approach to mandates, the economy, and schools rooted in individualism and personal freedom. Stories about Democratic Governors Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom acted as a counter to the GOP approach, lifting up government policies that provided relief and centered collective care.
The tension between State and federal jurisdiction and partisan rancor is not new, but in the coming year, we expect the number of these conversations to increase, driven by ongoing stories about vaccines, voting laws, abortion, and gun rights. We can expect to see framing that pits rural and urban residents against each other, despite numerous shared needs. Overall, Democracy’s relationship to both individual freedom and collective liberation, super-charged during the pandemic, will continue to vie for attention and dominance.
A FRACTURED ECONOMY
We’ve clocked the shifts in how people talk about the economy before, including the idea that the economy is broken. The pandemic helped people diagnose a problem that all is not well with the economy, but we haven’t yet seen this analysis coalesce into a coherent narrative that offers a compelling alternative to free-market capitalism.
We are still contending with the dominant narrative that a healthy economy hinges on growth and private business and that the primary role of government is to facilitate productivity and growth no matter the consequences. Likewise, narratives about the economy will continue to manifest as fractured, chaotic, and confused.
We expect trends next year will run the gamut, with stories about business, the stock market, or inflation operating alongside conversations about the impacts of COVID-19 on women and people of color, debt cancellation, or economic experiments like crypto and NFTs.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
- Our economy is recovering; we’re on the way back to normal
- Private industry and the free market are the engines of the economy
- Workers are the engine of the economy
- There are two economies; one for the rich and one for everyone else
- We must transform the economy
- It’s time to experiment with the economy
INTENSE AND TARGETED PUSH BACK AGAINST PROGRESSIVE SOCIAL POLICY
This isn’t new by a long shot, but when both federal and local legislatures try to move ambitious economic plans, we will see story trends that invoke scarcity to challenge even nominally progressive policies. Some classic trends will focus on cost and imply that those who benefit from these policies are “takers, not makers”.
We’ll also see stories about how bold government action will strangle free market innovation and send the economy into a tailspin. These stories will target Biden and the Democratic party and try to vilify them by tying their efforts to socialism and Marxism; regardless of the content. This dog whistle is meant to use socialism to evoke a crisis for the economy and democracy.
Expect to see more stories about inflation (Bidenflation), supply chains, housing, and the risk of losing the American dream as the midterms pick up and the pandemic lumbers on. We can also anticipate Reagan-inspired stories and messages about the U.S. on the edge of an economic boom or a bust and periodic invocation of tax cuts to justify conservative economic policy on any given day.
CORPORATIONS AS PANDEMIC HEROES
Over the past year, we have seen many stories that cast corporations as heroes, echoing wartime stories of crisis dating back to WWII. This was already a trend at the start of 2021 when Pfizer, Moderna, and other drugmakers were credited for vaccine development, and we’re likely to see it around corporate leadership to address ongoing supply chain issues.
More importantly, though, we’ll see more stories about large corporations and their CEOs as economic heroes who provide good jobs and good wages. Smaller businesses are likely to be cast as victims of the Great Resignation who can’t stay afloat because of worker demands for fair wages and better working conditions.
THE GREAT RESIGNATION AND BEYOND
Running parallel to stories around corporate heroes, there will be ongoing trends around the Great Resignation, the Great Reimagination, and the return of the “Essential” Worker. We will also see stories that center on the financial hit women, Black and brown people, and essential workers have taken during the pandemic.
Covid reorganized how people think about work-life balance, fair wages, and workplace safety. They have also pushed at old stories about skilled and unskilled labor. It’s no surprise we’ve seen an explosion of organizing and strikes over the last year across many different sectors. Trends that center workers and raise questions about how we do our work will likely continue.
TAX THE RICH
Tax the rich story trends and an ongoing focus on inequality will continue in 2022. As wealth inequality grows, the contrast between those who are still struggling and the wealthy — who continue to launch themselves into space and want to occupy Mars — will grow starker.
Expect trends that echo the 2008 crisis, focusing on the health of the market, the growth of corporate profits, and a return to normal rather than working people. Tax the Rich stories are likely to increase in volume in response to these disparities and the post-pandemic withdrawal of support from the government.
AN OBSESSION WITH TECH-BASED ECONOMIC INTERVENTIONS
It’s an experimental moment for money, and nothing shows that more than the explosion of conversation — and spam — around crypto and NFTs. We also saw an increase in conversations around the metaverse (Thanks, Facebook— er, Meta) and how it might be monetized.
These trends are mostly driven by techno-optimism and dreams of getting rich quick. But as we’ve seen in the Gamestop story in 2021 and conversations within the gaming community, they also suggest a curiosity toward new models of commerce, a desire to game capitalism to get your due, and critiques of capitalism and inequality.
In these uncertain times, visions of the future are a trend, even if it isn’t always the lead story. We’ll likely see more trends that center care and people at the nexus of climate, racial justice, and economic justice.
Stories about the economy of the future will contain a sharp, shared critique of our current economic problems, including capitalism itself, but will embody diverse visions for what a reimagined economy might look like. While some trends will lift up Black, indigenous, and feminist futures, other stories will link Biden’s policies to the care economy (ex. eradicating child poverty) and other incrementalist or private sector efforts aimed at addressing inequality.
THE CULTURE WARS (AGAIN)
Our fourth narrative prediction is the ongoing impact of the Culture Wars. Everything old is new again, and the Culture Wars are no exception. We’ll see an increase in Culture War stories that started to reassert themselves again in 2021.
In many ways, Culture War narratives are a retread of GOP strategies from the 1980s and 90s that leverage ideas about race, family, children, women, gender, and sexuality as a way to animate their base, move anti-government narratives, and define who belongs and who does not. A new 21st-century dimension to this strategy is that mis-and-disinformation now moves at the speed of the internet and purveyors of Culture War narratives leverage cancel culture to center individual experience over any calls for collective care.
As distrust in government and institutions increases, we will see a growing movement calling for freedom from the “nanny state,” claiming the government cannot supersede the values of the home. Conservatives will continue to expand who is an ambassador of this message beyond white men and women of faith as the GOP reasserts its identity as the pro-family, pro-worker, pro-capital party.
We expect their messengers will leverage children as a commonality across issues from education to health care using white supremacist narratives rooted in biological essentialism, security, and protectionism to lay claim to what constitutes public space and the role of government in relation to human rights and liberties.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
- The individual family is at the heart of America
- Community and family are at the heart of America
- Everyone should be able to live their life free from harm
- Accountability, truth, and repair will save our country
- Cancel Culture is destroying our country
SCHOOLS, PARENTS, AND KIDS
While some stories focus on COVID safety, mask mandates, school choice, trans-affirming policies, or history curriculum, across the board, parents, and children are centered as main characters in education conversations.
The real harassment and targeting of students and students of color, their families, education professionals, academics, and journalists will continue to proliferate.
ATTACKS ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY (CRT) AREN’T GOING AWAY
We know the movement towards social justice and liberation is strong, and the Right is doubling down on racist, xenophobic strategies — including all who stand in favor of advancing racial equity from school boards to the classroom.
The phrase and stories highlighting “school choice” will continue to disguise anti-CRT dog whistles, and because it had a tangible impact on Virginia’s gubernatorial race, we predict this tactic will be employed during the midterms when combined with anti-Black narratives, anti-government, anti-institution, and anti-science. The volume of stories that focus on people who support multiracial accounts of history and cultural competency in schools is low and often uses the right wing’s framing to talk about school curriculum.
Thanks in large part to yet another series of attacks against Roe v. Wade, abortion and reproductive justice will be a key component of Culture War narratives this year. Like CRT, transphobia and cancel culture, abortion will be a make-or-break issue electeds build their campaigns on.
Typical anti-abortion stories will blend with the revival of American masculinity, claiming access to reproductive care is part of the Left’s attack on men and elevating pro-life women who claim to be feminists. We’ll also see stories that connect abortion with baby bust anxieties, the aging U.S. population, and the “browning of America” to stoke white racial anxiety.
Stories supportive of abortion will rely on established messaging around privacy, choice, body autonomy, and the fear of a post-Roe world. We’ll see lots of personal abortion stories from all types of women and transnational mutual aid. Because of the recent Supreme Court case, these story trends will mingle more directly with narratives and stories about democracy.
MORE TRANS PANIC STORIES ARE ON THE HORIZON
Stories and messages conveying trans panic will connect with parents, conversations about “school choice” and safety narratives.
As more states attempt to pass anti-trans legislation focused on school sports and health care, similar to anti-trans bathroom bills in 2015, the Right will utilize transphobia as a wedge issue, drum up mis-and-disinformation about queer and trans people, and use the racial and gendered historic precedent that protects white womanhood against the “other.”
CANCEL CULTURE RHETORIC AND FREE SPEECH
Celebrities, athletes, comedians, and others who claim they are rallying against the “woke mob” continue to be loudspeakers in this conversation, and the Right continues leveraging their voices when it suits their agenda; this is especially true when elevating dearly held values of personal freedom and individual liberties.
Expect continued dog whistles against “the radical left” and news media institutions (The New York Times, CNN, etc.) as boogeyman representatives of leftists, socialists, and/or communists who are attacking the tenets of “American” (read: White) democracy.
SAFETY OR LAW & ORDER
Narrative prediction five is the ongoing debate between safety and security or law and order. The historic organizing for racial justice during the 2020 uprisings caused significant narrative shifts that challenged the status quo around law and order and advanced progressive narratives around public safety and racial justice.
The call to defund and abolish the police opened up a larger space for conversations about harms caused by militarized law enforcement in communities of color and advanced narratives rooted in repair, reinvestment, safety, and security.
The shift away from law and order occurred in relation to competing safety narratives expressed during the pandemic, which reflected the many different ways people interpret personal freedom, collective care, and the role of government. Emerging safety narratives cut across conversations about vaccines, policing, and broader conversations on school safety that touch on health, anti-Asian racism, and gun violence.
Narratives about safety and security are held across ideologies, geographies, and lived experiences — everyone wants to feel safe and secure — but the stories and messages within are varied. While some view safety and security through a lens of empathy and mutuality, others link safety with law and order, criminalizing and punishing people to achieve personal safety.
The competition between law and order and safety narratives hasn’t been as prominent in 2021, but there are strong indications it will play a major role next year. As the Right moves to blame the state of society on progressive advances utilizing stories of rising crime, border security, and skepticism about changes in police practices they’ll come into conflict with stories around community and school safety and mental health.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
- We need law and order, not chaos
- Everyone deserves safety and security
- None of us are safe until all of us are safe
- Security is not guaranteed; everyone needs to do their part to stay safe
RISING CRIME AND CHAOS
Stories about rising crime and murder that criminalize Black, queer and trans people, immigrants, and those living at the intersections of these identities will increase over the course of the year, reinforcing that narrative we need police to protect communities and property. Stories about drugs like fentanyl and opioids will also increase.
We’re likely to see familiar tropes about law and order versus chaos and anarchy rubbing up against stories that highlight alternatives to policing in cities spilling out into the suburbs and rural areas. Stories about rising crime, including the occasional mis-and-disinformation, will buttress skepticism about #DefundThePolice and prison abolition efforts in favor of incrementalist police reform and reverting previous decisions on municipal budgets to reallocate resources away from police departments.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM // DEFUND // ABOLITION
Conversations around criminal justice reform and abolition will still be relevant in 2022. We’ll see trending stories around police corruption and violence against Black people, push back against crime-panic stories, and calls to defund the police to invest in Black futures.
At the nexus of racial justice movements and Big Tech, we’re likely to see an increase in conversations around surveillance capitalism, surveillance policing, and privacy.
Immigration is a key issue leveraged in stories in the contest between law and order and safety. Law and order stories are typically anti-Black, anti-indigenous, and sinophobic in nature; these stories define all non-white immigrants as criminals, regardless of how they came to the U.S.
We can also expect stories about how Biden needs to be tough on crime at the border and frame the southern border as a threat to national security. These stories are amplified by xenophobic disinformation about caravans, terrorists sneaking across the border, and COVID-infected migrants; we expect these will continue in 2022 as border crisis stories are reproduced across news media and both political parties.
Increased stories around crime and chaos will be accompanied by an increase in conversation around the opioid crisis. We’ll see competing stories around drug busts and harm reduction. While Black and Brown people are cast as criminals, opioid stories present a caricature of working-class white addicts and rural suffering while ignoring the impact it has across communities.
The real villains in this story trend will be Big Pharma and individual politicians who defend pharmaceutical companies harder than they do their own constituents. The right-wing will use this as a narrative wedge to capture working-class white people by acknowledging their suffering and blaming ”elites” for the devastation in their communities.
The likely rulings around limiting abortion and expanding access to guns alongside political and economic uncertainty will drive conversations about how to take protective measures against mass shooters, vigilantes, and other crises.
Emergent stories around decriminalization of sex work, safe consumption sites, neighbor to neighbor care, and mutual aid could contribute to growing narratives around alternatives to policing.
ESCAPISM AND THE FUTURE
Prediction six is Escapism and the Future. While we saw a burst of optimism about the way we could shape the future at the start of the pandemic, the terrain has gotten a bit more complicated. After a hard two years, conversations about the future will be accompanied by the desire to escape.
Futurist trends will continue with stories musing on what shape society will take post-pandemic, and conversations about possible dystopias brought on by the ultra-rich building “cities of the future,” an inhospitable climate, or the expansion of fascism. Conversations about utopias and the apocalypse are deeply connected to the other narrative trends we’ve explored in this report.
Progressive visions of utopia invoke a world in balance – where past harms are repaired, our overlapping crises are addressed and our future is filled with abundance while the right-wing imagines a utopia free of government where everyone can do as they please. Each of these visions has its twin. Progressives fear an authoritarian world where climate change and resource scarcity cause racial division and war while the right-wing envisions a socialist dystopia robbed of individual freedom.
We’ll also see conversations about escape. Some trends will lean heavily into nostalgia. The most common trend here is MAGA stories that dream of returning to an ahistorical perfect American way of life, but we’ll also see stories longing for bipartisanship and civility, and the desire to get back to life “before COVID.” Other stories and conversations will be driven by pandemic exhaustion, rejecting the uncertainty of today in favor of pleasure, luxury, and joy, consequences, and criticism be damned.
NARRATIVES AT PLAY
- The future can be a utopia
- The future will only get worse
- Nothing is improving so let’s escape
- Let’s go back to simpler times
ESCAPE AND PLEASURE
One of the rising trends we see in this space is the desire to escape and enjoy life. Story trends here declare that self-care is no longer limited to luxuriating on Sunday but something to be done every day, living your life on your terms.
This rejection of self-sacrifice manifests in both liberatory and materialistic ways. Some examples include anti-grind culture, rejection of the commodification of self-care, and sustainability. After two years of living in a pandemic, people are desperate and chasing joy and nostalgia, wanting to romanticize the mundane and daily routine.
We’ve seen this play out thanks to niche micro-trends like TikTok-inspired obsessions over 90s fashion and y2k, cottagecore, local party scenes, and even Twilightcore. The Great Resignation has elements of escape as well – stories of the mass exodus of workers are part of a reckoning with the 40-hour workweek and a desire to work in ways that are values aligned.
2022 is still a year of utopias; as we sit at the crossroads many imagine the world they would like to live in, rather than the one that is. Story trends will highlight an optimism about technology and explore ideas about Universal Basic Income (UBI) and hyper-local solutions designed to address climate change, racial justice, and sustainable living.
Ongoing trends around Indigenous and Black futures, redistribution, and landback will also be present. Notions of transformation, beauty, and a balance between the organic and technological play a key role in these trends.
Other trends that are common during this time imagine dystopian futures. These story trends are populated by tech dystopias, climate disasters, resource scarcity, and a form of surveillance capitalism that works in tandem with the state.
On the tail of religious extremism and QAnon fragmenting into different subgroups, zealots and aspiring cult leaders will use doomsday notions to recruit a mix of people, including the spiritually susceptible and preppers, around end-of-days predictions.
The long-standing dominance of narratives around productivity, white racial anxiety, government distrust, and populism will advance the opposition’s goals if we are not prepared. While we make strategic interventions, there are also opportunities to develop offensive strategies. The following Dos and Don’ts are not meant to serve as specific message guidance but as broad narrative guideposts that can inform content, audience, and platform development as you assess your narrative strategy.
DO BUILD STRATEGY AROUND BIG NARRATIVE INTERVENTIONS
➭ DO weave stories together to show how interconnected issues are. Connect individual stories to larger patterns. Lead with values, name the problem and offer both vision and solutions. Be mindful of the false idea that individual responsibility and collective care and governance cannot exist at the same time.
➭ DO get specific about local context. Be prepared to toggle between the national and the local. Keep issues, candidates, and messengers grounded in place. Lift up and spotlight local voices, people who know their communities intimately. Connect local work to broader national conversations and issues when it makes sense.
➭ DO start building short-term and long-term strategies to deal with mis-and-disinformation. The bad news is that mis-and-disinfo will continue to shape the narrative landscape across conversations. Proactively inoculate against mis-and-disinfo across languages and platforms. If there is a popular story spreading mis-and-disinfo in English, chances are it’s proliferating in other languages.
If it’s relevant to your base, consider language access and creating multilingual or language-specific content to inoculate your communities against falsehoods. Target your content to platforms and channels where your community is receiving information. This ranges from local TV stations to WhatsApp groups to local barbershops and beyond. Utilize the right messengers to take these proactive steps to counter mis and disinfo.
DO ADVANCE FRAMES THAT OFFER A LIBERATORY VISION OF THE FUTURE
➭ DO lift up the promise of transformative governance. It is critical that we balance the shortcomings of our current political leaders and the promise of an expanded, multiracial democracy.
We need to double down on the promise of this transformation to combat voter apathy and exhaustion. Whenever possible, localize tactics and co-conspire with electeds, community leaders, visionaries, and dreamers towards a new collective governance.
➭ DO use the care economy to ground your work. Due in large part to the pandemic, there is an increase in general awareness that capitalism is not sustainable. It’s an experimental time for the economy and people are open and curious about new ways to organize their lives.
Continue to uplift human-centered stories, especially around economic equity, poverty, debt relief, and labor organizing. Leverage “tax the rich” and anti-monopoly conversations to name villains and point to progressive visions of the economy.
➭ DO seize opportunities created by the pandemic to advance disability justice. A small but significant trend within conversations about COVID-19 identifies the pandemic as a mass disabling event, exposing systemic issues within American healthcare.
COVID long haulers and survivors of COVID can join disability activists and allies to use this symphony of perspectives to invite others into the conversation in a way that has salience.
DON’T REINFORCE NARRATIVES AND FRAMES THAT UNDERCUT OUR GOALS
➭ DON’T play into anti-government narratives, even when we want leaders to do better. Increased anti-government sentiment and government mistrust of further goals. This sentiment is held across all kinds of different groups, informed by our own experiences, histories, and culture.
This can lead to civic apathy and it can also act as a doorway to anti-democratic or white nationalist ideologies.
➭ DON’T use competition and scarcity frameworks. There is a risk of dividing people based on where they live — be it the rural/suburban/urban divide or red states and blue states — and a false choice between personal freedoms and collective freedom.
Guard against this by naming our commonalities while acknowledging individual needs and experiences and connecting them to collective care.
➭ DON’T fall into the trap of “rising crime”. Lift up the success of police accountability, reform, and transformational policy wins to counter the idea that this work is the cause of rising crime.
➭ DON’T accept frames or messages that pit the economy against social policy. Many see social policy and the health of the economy as interdependent, but dominant narratives around the social safety net position policy that is good for people and their families as unearned entitlements, distinct from the cost of gas, food, or retirement portfolios. Stress and demonstrate the impact that transformational social policy can have on our lives and on the economy writ large.
➭ DON’T glorify corporations or cast them as heroes. There are many opportunities to call out corporate power across issues. Keep your eye out for messaging that divides workers by class, race, gender, or the sector they work in.
Don’t let CEOs or politicians define the terms of debate around work. Celebrate organizing wins within corporations without glorifying them.
➭ DON’T play into “deserving” vs. “undeserving” narratives about immigrants.
Counter stories about good and bad immigrants by redirecting conversations into care, justice, and equality and the concrete actions the government can take to honor the dignity of all people no matter where they’re from.
Research, Analysis, and Writing by: http://www.thisissignals.com
Miguel Andrade, Shaira Chaer, Hermelinda Cortés, Liz Hynes, Bia Jackson, and Ivie Osaghae