Reframing the Political Debate
"Don't Think of An Elephant" an essential read to win hearts and minds
By Don Boring
"Don't Think of An Elephant:Know Your Values and Frame the Debate!"By George Lakoff, Copyright 2004 Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.
Are you dissapointed and perhaps completely perplexed at the possible stupidity of the masses of folk that relected George W. Bush as President? Feeling hopeless? Wondering if the progressive vision will ever see the light of day? Are you mad as hell, and willing to do anything to change the future?
Well, George Lakoff's book is a must read for you! Based upon years of his research as a professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, he clarifies in plain language why the Right is winning, and how they have strategically been working on doing so since the defeat of Barry Goldwater for president in 1964.
Using the language of such spokesmen of the rightwing religious conservatives such as James Dobson of the Focus on the Family foundation, Lakoff explains how the world view of the right is based upon a"strict father," tough love philosophy while the progressive/left has primarily a world view based upon a "nuturant father" philosophy. And he gives examples of how these two images play out not only in campaign jargon, but in the use of Orwellian language in the composition of titles to such monstrosity pieces of legislation as the "Clear Sky's Initiative," and the "No Child Left Behind" act.
But this book is NOT just an expose of Orwellian techinique. I provides the keys and tools that progressives can use to capture the hearts and minds of the american electorate and gain the bright future that we all hope for.
The key says Lakoff is in "framing" the argument. And the left/progressive community is WAY behind in this effort. Lakoff documents how the rightwing has spent perhaps billions of dollars over the last 40 years in creating rightwing think tanks and foundations which spend 24/7 figuring out ways to inculcate their message into the heads of the average american.
Lakoff indicates that while common sense would tell us that people would vote in favor of their own self interest, that in fact they can be promoted to vote for what they consider to be their KEY VALUES instead.
Sound familiar? This book was published in September of 2004 and was a 100 percent predicter of what would happen with the re-election of G.W. Bush if you but read between the lines. In short Lakoff says that people can be tricked to vote their values even if the policies of the promoters, (ie, the Right) go against their best interests.
It is all here folks. The ugly truth spelled out in chapter and verse, as well as the solution. While Lakoff tells us that the entire philosophy of the Right can be described in 10 words, (this is no accident, and probably cost a pretty penny in think tank heaven to come up with) he also proposes 10 words that could describe the entire philosophy of the progressive left. In deference to Lakoff the author, I won't tell you what those words are; but at only 119 pages, not only does this book provide a short read, but one that will get you shouting YES! Again.
And for the record, Lakoff acknowledges the fact that the progressive left is splintered into several different groups:
But relax, he even provides a manner in which to unite all these folks into a unified voting mass, and isn't that what we all want as Greens?
- Socio-economic progressives
- Identity politics progressives
- Civil Libertarian progressives
- Spiritual progressives
- And Anti-authoritarian progressives
In short. READ THIS BOOK!
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