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View Diary: The best book this cycle (212 comments)

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  •  Language and "Awesome God" (4.00)
    I've written on my own blog recently--and argued for years with friends here in NYC (I'm originally from Iowa)--about liberals' utter failure to shape the terms of political discourse.

    One specific failure that annoys me to this day is the failure of not just the Left as a whole but the Democratic Party in particular to reframe evangelical nomenclature and idioms.

    Frankly, I think this book is almost pathetically overdue, and I have a hard time getting too excited about it, at least based on what Kos has revealed about it or quoted from it.

    However...one Dem who may be modeling a new Democratic language that, in part, reframes evangelical language, someone I hope could help reshape political discourse nationally, and someone who I suspect already understands Lakoff's basic idea, is our beloved Barak Obama.

    I'm already on the Barack Obama for President bandwagon, such as it is--a tad touch-in-cheek because he's so inexperienced still.

    But his "awesome God" line at the convention--something like "we worship an awesome God in the blue states, too!"--was brilliant. It was a direct assault on the widely-held assumption that liberals know nothing about middle-America, that they're all essentially mean-spirited secularists who just "don't get it."

    "Our God is an Awesome God" is arguably the unofficial anthem of American evangelical Christendom. It's a "praise song"--to use their language. It has been sung by evangelical Christians since, I think, the late 1980's. It binds evangelicals together at any big event that draws on multiple congregations. It's sung many, many times a year in massive non-denominational churches, in Baptist churches, Christian & Missionary Alliance churches, Evangelical Free churches, Assemblies of God churches, you name it.  Literally MILLIONS of Americans sing it on any given Sunday! This is why Obama's line was so important, and why it got thunderous applause from the midwestern and southern delegations.

    A critical part of reframing the political debate in America MUST include a strategy relative to evangelical America, which historically has been nonpartisan and--I submit--could be partially won over to the Democratic Party if Dems were more clued-in to the evangelical community's language...and American evangelical Christianity seldom-acknowledged DIVERSITY. By no means are all evangelicals radical small-government conservatives, or even necessarily socially conservative (compared to, say, Pat Buchanan). Yet, even moderate evangelicals--who certainly aren't single-issue voters (i.e. it's not ALL about a candidate's stance on abortion)--vote Republican because the Democratic Party has just come to seem so COMPLETELY ALIEN, in part because the Party's leadership and candidates do not--refuse to--speak their language.

    If Lakof's book does not explore this realm of popular evagelical language and the Left, it is missing a major, major issue.

    When even one American--who has done nothing wrong--is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth--then all Americans are in peril. (Harry S. Truman)

    by IseFire on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:31:51 AM PDT

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