Moving the fulcrum

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The GOP claims an unreasonable position in order to persuade the Democrats to do what the GOP actually wants as a "compromise".
The GOP moves the fulcrum in order to frame their actual position as a "compromise" between their (new) position and Obama's (new) position.


Moving the fulcrum is a use of interpretive framing in which one party takes up an extreme position (which they do not actually hold) in order to convince a third party of the validity of their actual position. It generally depends upon the fallacy of moderation in order to succeed.


Say you have two people, A and B. A holds position Pa, B holds position Pb.

  • They are both trying to convince a third party, who is helping them resolve their dispute, of the validity of their positions.
  • A is honest, and directly argues the merits of Pa.
  • B, however, is less so, and instead of arguing Pb argues for an extreme position Pc, wherein a seemingly-reasonable "middle ground" between Pa and Pc would be approximately Pb.
  • The third party agrees that "there are two sides to every story" and "where there's smoke there's fire", and suggests that both parties be reasonable and settle on position Pb.

Obviously this sort of argument wouldn't work if the facts were clear-cut; it's mainly useful in situations where the best answer is perceived to be a matter of opinion or judgment (whether or not this is actually true).