When it comes to political debate, there’s a lot to learn from that example. It’s a way of “framing the debate”, which helps you strategically present issues in terms that help shape the debate in your favor.
Politically speaking, it’s a way of controlling the ground that you fight on instead of debating or fighting a campaign on the opposition’s terms. When you do that, you let them frame the debate instead of you – and it usually makes you look defensive.
Go on the Offensive
Framing the debate helps you go on offense. And for conservatives, the best way to do that is to get to the “heart of the matter”, which is usually the liberal’s Achilles’ heel on any issue.
Use terms that help frame your issue in a positive light and put your opposition on its heels.
For example, on abortion, focus on the life of the unborn “child” and its right to life, not the “choice”; on education, focus on providing the “choice” for a better education; on the death penalty, focus on “guilt” and “justice”; on guns, focus on the right to “self-defense”, etc.
Keep the spotlight on the victim, (or the potential victim). Who’s being harmed, or will be? And why is the opposition OK with that? Make them defend it.
If you fail to focus on the heart of the matter, you’re more likely to get sucked into a debate that is centered on the liberal (read: humanistic) world view, which means that you end up fighting on their terms. Sort of like being asked, “When did you stop beating your wife?” There’s no way to respond that doesn’t make you look bad.
Responding to an attack
Keep in mind that framing the debate is easier when you are the one who starts the debate. But if you are responding to an attack, the same principle still applies. Frame the debate by “re”-framing it. In other words, pivot by interrogating the opposition in a way that redirects the conversation back towards the heart of the matter.
Once the debate is re-framed you can discredit their arguments.
Remember, when you control the debate, you control the ground you fight on and keep your opposition in a position of weakness. And you increase your odds of success.
Frame the debate!