Issue framing in a political context, means presenting an issue in a way that will likely get the most agreement from others. In a mediation process, this process is quite different, and involves identifying core issues between two disagreeing parties, so that issues and facts related to issues may be discussed and resolved.
In political issue framing language is often used as a way to gain compliance on contentious points. Use of language is geared toward knowledge of the audience, a concept first developed by the Greek sophists called kairos. Kairos essentially means knowing what is right and proper to say for a particular concept and at a particular time.
In modern times, issue framing tends to involve a great deal of work. Before political speeches are written, focus groups or surveys may be performed to analyze the most effective strategies for addressing an audience. This is particularly the case with speeches in high profile campaigns or State of the Union Addresses in the US.
Issue framing is certainly not exclusive to any political party. All political parties use key words or phrases, sometimes called sound bytes, which they hope the media will co-opt, thus ensuring a continued reinforcement of a set of ideas. As well, groups devoted to key issues often employ issue framing.
Issue framing may also be called spinning a story. When President Bush gave justification for invading Iraq, he initially used this technique to suggest the purpose of the invasion was to find and eliminate weapons of mass destruction. The words weapons of mass destruction connote fear. In light of the mass destruction at the World Trade Center, his attempt succeeded well. Mass destruction was to be avoided, and war on Iraq would help this. The issue was reframed as the "War on Terror," when searches revealed no weapons.
Obviously, those who do not support the Iraqi war, do not call it the "War on Terror," but are more likely to refer to it as an "unjust war," or a "war for oil." Neither side plays completely fair with the facts, as there are many explanations and arguments both for and against the war. However framing such a divisive issue allows one to advance political goals and influence public thinking.