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July 6, 2005

don’t think of an elephant!

George Lakoff – 1931498717

Howard Dean calls Lakoff: “One of the most influential political thinkers of the progressive movement.” As a near libertarian conservative I can only hope so.

“It is a common folk theory of progressives that ‘the facts will set you free.’ . . . It is a vain hope. Human brains just don’t work that way. Framing matters. Frames once entrenched are hard to dispel.” (Especially true if you are of the common stripe and one of the thoughtless unwashed.)

The hypothesis driving this readable, informational, and not rarely (if unintentionally) humorous book is that you have to “know your values and frame the debate.” It needn’t be particularly devious, but is focused upon a “better way” to say what you wish to communicate. Well chosen expressions of empathy and suasion are best, and euphemisms are pretty good. Pejorative implications are o.k. if all else fails. (Orwellian double-speak is what Republicans use.)

He claims that Republicans are the originators of this maneuver, forgetting that the “progressives” were first when they framed the abortion debate by making it pro-choice--instead of pro-abortion, effectively implying that opposing abortion was therefore and necessarily “anti-choice.” Frame the debate as being for a mother’s right to choose and you will win. Forget moral issues . . . they did, and they did win! (though it is increasingly becoming a pyrrhic victory.)

Welfare arguments are framed with progressives being in favor of nurturance and care while the opposition is always “against social programs that take care of people.” As Frank, in What’s the Matter With Kansas,[below]Lakoff cannot accept that there are real differences of philosophy here . . . and seemingly almost everywhere. One side has to be pro, the other con (con’s bad.) Properly frame the debate and you will win.

He notes that Republicans (having learned) are effective in framing tax cuts as tax relief, and are impacting the social security debates by framing it in such a way as to imply that, like taxes, it is actually the payer’s money, not the government’s.

“And who is the United Nations?” [answer: mostly] Underdeveloped countries . . . “children” in the eyes of those who want to dictate, not help. He then detours into a discussion of how a “nurturant” parent empathizes with children, providing protection, shelter and comfort, ending with a list: freedom, opportunity, prosperity, fairness, open, two-way communication, cooperation, trust, honesty . . . which are progressive values. He believes that conservatives do not share in these--and are actually against most of them. Being a nurturant parent is inconsistent with an “authoritative” view-point, and especially if it is a Christian one.

Like Kansas, again, he notes that “economics is based upon the assumption that people will naturally always think in terms of their self-interest. . . . . [and] Democrats are shocked or puzzled when the voters do not vote their self interest.”

The real [and awful] Republican practice is: “They [actually] say what they . . . believe,” while liberals and progressives (L&P’s) follow polls and decide upon moving right, when moving right never helps them. The left needs to express what they actually believe.

Jeez . . . I just can’t help loving these quotes. They are so damaging! The L&P’s react by saying “Those conservatives are bad people; they are using Orwellian language. . . . They are deceivers. Bad. Bad.”

“All true, [his words] but we should recognize that they use Orwellian language precisely when they have to . . . imagine supporting a ‘Dirty Skies Bill’ or a ‘Forest Destruction Bill’ or a ‘Kill Public Education Bill.’ . . . [after all] people do not support what [conservatives] are really trying to do.” My God what Neanderthalian Nazis!

Bush, when he talks to women uses terms like love, from the heart, for the children, etc. We all know he doesn’t mean it, he’s just prevaricating for votes. (No wonder the left always misunderestimates the man.) Well, at least “on the left, the highest value is helping . . . as many people as you can.” That is where their money is spent, not on ideological issues!

Conservative foundations have millions of dollars, while progressives have to spread their paltry sums of money around. (Perhaps he’s not heard of George Soros or People for the American Way?)

Interestingly, tort reform “will ruin” the Democrats in Texas . . . tort lawyers provide three-quarters of the money going to Democrats there, and reform would cut off these funds. Is anyone besides me concerned that 75% of all contributions to Democrats in Texas come from tort lawyers?

As for energy, we require “massive investment in alternative energy.” Does he remember the billions which disappeared down the rat hole called “Synfuels?”

Humorously, he observes that Bush is successful in large measure due to NASCAR fans. L&P’s have to get a handle on them . . . but how does a rational, elite person relate to people who spend their week-ends watching fools drive in circles, at dangerous speeds, all-the-while turning to the left? Further, NASCAR dads identify with “the strict father rules and stereotypes” (which are different from nurturant parents, don’tcha know?)

To understand Muslims you must understand that Taliban means “student.” Those who teach hate in Islamic schools must be replaced—and we in the West cannot replace them. “Moderate and liberal Muslims” must step forward . . . . yea . . . all ten of them.

I just can’t go on. This informative tome spells out, in grim detail, the problems the L&P’s have. They need to better express their strong values. Keep trying, folks, you just keep driving more people away. Most don’t understand a lot of that buncombe, and those who do can’t believe anyone with an I.Q. in double digits would believe it, let alone admit it.

I try to understand, and desperately want believe that these are thoughtful, concerned people with whom I simply disagree, but it is getting harder by the year.

Posted by respeto at July 6, 2005 3:35 PM