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I'm not one to recommend books lightly. In fact, I don't think I've ever said, "you HAVE to get this book." But there's always a first time for everything.

I get swamped with review copies of books these days, and given the number of liberal-leaning anti-Bush books saturating the market, there's no shortage of reading material that I'll unfortunately never get to. But I nearly flipped with joy when I checked my mail today (too lazy to do it yesterday) and found a copy of George Lakoff's new book, Don't think of an elephant!, he of the Rockridge Institute. I'd been dying to read my first Lakoff book since I read this piece he wrote for the American Prospect. The fact that the obnoxious Jonathan Chiat of the New Republic dissed him only made me more anxious to read him. And rumors that the DNC have taken Lakoff on as a consultant clinched the deal.

So back to the book, I knew after reading just a handful of pages that if there's one book you read this year, it should be this one.

Lakoff's obsession is the use of language to frame political debate. And it's his findings that will help rescue the Democratic Party from itself, extracating itself from playing with the frame built by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (think tanks, leadership institutes, media outlets, etc). What's a frame? You know them -- "Death Tax", and "Tax Relief", and "Pro-life", and so on. Bush says, "We don't need a permission slip from the UN to defend the US", and suddenly, the Republicans have framed the runup to war in a certain way. Our mistake, as a party, has been our willingness to play within our opponents' frame, rather than building our own.

I will be writing more about the book over the coming days. I'm absolutely smitten by it. But I want to open with Lakoff's meta frame for what each of the two parties stand for. This is great stuff, as it clearly explains, in a way I had never seen before, the reason why the gulf between liberals and conservatives is as deep as it is.

Given the existence of the metaphor linking the nation to the family, I asked the next question: If there are two different understandings of the nation, do they come from two different understandings of family?

I worked backwards. I tool the various positions on the conservative side and on the progressive side and I said, "Let's put them through the metaphor from the opposite direction and see what comes out." I put in the two different views of the nation, and out popped two different models of the family: a strict father family and a nurturant parent family. You know which is which [...]

The strict father model beings with a set of assumptions:

The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore, they have to be made good.

What is needed in this kind of world is a strong, strict father who can:

  • Protect the family in a dangerous world,

  • Support the family in the difficult world, and

  • Teach his kids right from wrong.
Now to summarize how this all fits into the GOP frame, "protect the family" speaks to the GOP's militarism and hard line on crime and punishment. That one is pretty self evident. "Support the family" equates prosperity with morality -- the ability to successfully support one's charges is a virtue, and those that are unable to do so, or depend on the government to help out, are morally weak. Hence, the GOP's hostility to social programs, since they make people dependent, rather than self-sufficient.
There are many aspects of government that [conservatives] like very much. They are not against government subsidies for industry. Subsidies for corporations, which reward the good people -- the investors in those corporations -- are great. No problem there.

But they are against nurturance and care. They are against social programs that take care of people. That is what they see as wrong. That is what they are trying to eliminate on moral grounds. That is why they are not merely a bunch of crazies or mean and greedy -- or stupid-- people, as many liberals believe. What is even scarier is that conservatives believe it.

Now see how Lakoff frames political liberalism:
Both parents are equally responsible for raising the children. The assumption is that children are born good and can be made better. The world can be made a better place, and our job is to work on that. The parents' job is to nurture their children and to raise their children to be nurturers of others.

What does nurturance mean? It means two things: empathy and responsibility [...] all sorts of other values immediately follow from empathy and responsibility [...]

First, if you emphathize with your child, you will provide protection. [... From] crime and drugs, certainly. You also protect your child from cars without seat bealts, from smoking, from poisonous additives in food. So progressive politics focuses on environmenntal protection, worker protection, consumer protection, and protection from disease [and] also terrorist attacks [...]

Further, it is your moral responsibility to teach your child to teach your child to be a happy, fulfilled person who wants others to be happy and fulfilled.

In other words, while the conservative frame rewards those who succeed where others fail, the liberal frame rewards those who are outraged when others fail. This is powerful stuff. Some more of those liberal values:
  • If you want your child to be fulfilled in life, the child has to be free enough to do that. Therefore, freedom is a value.

  • You do not have very much freedom if there is no opportunity or prosperity. Therefore opportunity and prosperity are progressive values.

  • If you really care about your child, you want your child to be treated fairly by you and by others. Therefore fairness is a value.

  • If you are connecting with your child and you emphathize with that child, you have to have open, two-way communication. Honest communication. That becomes a value.

  • You live in a community, and that the community will affect how your child grows up. Therefore community-building, service to the community, and cooperation in a community become values.

  • To have cooperation, you must have trust, and to have trust you must have honesty and open two-way communication. Trust, honesty, and open communication are fundamental progressive values -- in a community as in a family.
  • I was blown away when I read this. It does help put things in perspective in a way I was previously unable to do so.

    Suddenly, Arnold's "girly men" comment takes on new meaning, as does the WSJ's "lucky duckies" comment about those too poor to pay any taxes. Take any issue, apply it to the frames above, and it's easy to see why liberals and conservatives fall on opposite sides of many issues -- Patriot Act, tax cuts for the wealthiest, or, heck, Bush's refusal to listen to skeptics during the runup to his war (father knows best, or "because I said so"). Take any issue, apply the frame, and see what you get. It's pretty amazing how well Lakoff's frames work on just about every issue.

    It's also gives proper explanation to the difference between conservative and liberal blogs -- where high-traffic conservative bloggers serve not to build community (most have no comments), but to amplify their party's agenda (doing what "father" tells them to do, like good, disciplined, obedient children). We, on the good side of the ideological fence, believe in "open, two-way communication", hence the use of comments and the building of "community" on most of the top progressive bloggers.

    Like I said, I'll be writing about Lakoff all week, specifically, how he suggests we use our frame to recast the debate on a whole host of issues (including the big marriage debate).

    Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 11:46 PM PDT.

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    Comment Preferences

    •  Using this model (none)
      You could say the conservatives tried to co-opt the nurturing role through [the largely fictional] "compassionate conservatism". It's interesting that Bush spoke to all those [bogus] social programs in his convention speech.

      Kerry ought to capitalize on his role as protector in a big way. (of course, Undermining said role is a major goal of Rove...)

      BTW, I wonder why the Dem women aren't more visible? Teresa and especially Elizabeth - who struck me as a superb communicator.

      "I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied."

      by bushdemocrat on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 11:54:09 PM PDT

      •  I think that's off-target (none)
        Let's not focus on dog-eat-dog vs. nurture.  One of the key objectives of GOP memes is to polarize and divide.  "You're with us or against us," etc.  Finding differences is easy.  The problem is that the Dems think being OPPOSITE is a good thing.  It's not.

        Take, for example, one of the most divisive issues out there:  abortion.  The GOP framed itself "pro-life" (pro-death penalty and pro-war be damned) in order to force the Dems to take the opposite stance, and I personally believe the result has been crippling.  Now we breed a group of far-left activitists who go as far as wear t-shirts bragging about their abortions (q.v. and insisting on "pro-choice".  Problem?  That's exactly where the GOP wants them.

        I won't say my arguments are right, but they are MODERATE, and they're all but missing from the debate.  I think abortion is something to take seriously, hardly something to flaunt, but I oppose ending abortion on PRAGMATIC grounds.  Bear in mind Roe vs. Wade hinged on the fact NOT that abortion is a right, but that enforcement of any regulation on a woman's body is an invasion of privacy.  A democratic government simply should not have the power to ask the questions necessary to enforce an anti-abortion law.  So if we're going to save babies, let's start with overhauling the hideously messed-up foster care system and drop anti-abortion laws to the bottom of a VERY long "To Do" list.

        But you won't hear that in any abortion debate, because the far right picked its stance, and the far left was stupid enough to jump to the other side.

        I could run this argument on practically every GOP talking point out there.  Simply finding new words for the "opposite field" the GOP mapped out for us is not the solution.  The author isn't talking about rhetoric, but FRAMES.

        •  Pragmatic unwanted children (none)
          >but I oppose ending abortion on PRAGMATIC grounds.<

          Too bad you're not a knocked up 13 year old.
          You might not be so PRAGMATIC.

          Nobody -likes- abortion.  The main advantage is that
          it saved lives of young girls running off to Mexico to
          be butchered.

          I know a mother with two beautiful kids who wouldn't
          be here if she'd had 2 before she was ready.

          The kids would've been very abused by an immature,
          resentful single parent.

          I love people all aquiver to tell others how to run their lives -
          when they'll never have to face a situation themselves.

          I bet you're for our president's Iraq war.
          1,000 dead soldiers is fine for the cause, right?

          •  How can you weight one life against another? (none)

            If all lives have equal value, the 13 year old is no more valueable than the life of a fetus.

            I'm against abortion unless the life of the 13 year old is at risk. If a 13 year old is simply pregnant then let her give the baby up for adoption to someone who can't have kids.

            Abortion is not efficient and its against my morals. I guess I'm not a true liberal. Freedom is important but until we can prove without a doubt that a fetus is not alive its unfair to kill it.

        •  Sorry about that! (none)
          Sorry about flaming you.
          I missed the word "ending"
          That's what I get reading half-assed before running
          off to work.
        •  abortion (none)
          It's interesting you bring up abortion, because I've always disagreed with the way the left has framed that argument, maybe because of my own experience. My parents had a shotgun wedding pre-Roe, and spit out a total of 3 kids in 5 years because their Catholic upbringing left them clueless about birth control. Needless to say my childhood was a mess, and it's even more tragic because my parents are both pretty good people; they just were forced to be parents too young, and with the wrong partner. I'm sad for the happy families they could have had in different circumstances.

          I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone, and that's what fuels my pro-choice stance. I'd call myself a feminist, but that really doesn't figure into the abortion issue for me at all. It's about compassion and kids, and valuing life enough to want each one to be as positive as possible. I think that jibes very well with the framework above, and I think we should try harder to emphasize that pro-choice is pro-child and pro-family. It's too easy for the right to rally the stone-agers when we frame it as a strictly feminist issue.

          •  Interesting (none)
            I'd call myself a feminist, but that really doesn't figure into the abortion issue for me at all.

            For a long time I felt the same way, but in talking to friends and colleagues (and seeing photos like this one) I've come to believe that the abortion issue really is a gender issue in the classic sense.  Or, to paraphrase many a feminist:  If men could get pregnant, abortion AND maternity leave would be covered under a decades-old socialized, nation health plan.

            As for the rest, agreed wholeheartedly.  Marriage and reproductive freedom are areas where the framing concept should be highly applicable and can help win the argument.  I've had separate discussions recently with relatives who were anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion where I've tried to employ this strategy, as well as coming at the argument from a conservative point of view (for instance:  "haven't we [in church, etc.] always encouraged couples who are having sex to get married?")  I've had a surprising amount of success;  not exactly 'converting' folks, but getting them to broaden their point of view.  

            On abortion, another relative was upset that advocates for reproductive freedom have co-opted the word "choice."  I pointed out that if you feel that way, certainly you have to agree that "pro-life" isn't a fair framing of the anti-abortion argument.  

            I've felt extremely aware of Lakoff's framing concept for a long time, particularly in the last two presidential elections.  In some ways it strikes me as a "duh!" kind of argument - or just a re-packaging of what we all should have learned from Orwell - but I'm excited to see someone tackling it in a systematic way; establishing a theory of how it works, so to speak, and explaining how it can be applied ethically to help market progressive causes.

            •  that photo is frightening (none)
              I remember seeing that photo the first time. Also considering myself a femanist, I didn't really see abortion as a feminist issue either. But that picture says it all. A bunch of men in power making a sweeping decision about all women, circumstances be damned. They will never  have to suffer any life altering consequences for their decision. Yet they are celebrating that they are able to impose these consequences on others.

              Feminism is about women having the power of self-determination. No man is ever going to be raped and then saddled with a lifetime responsibility as a reminder of that horrid event. No man will ever lose his life in childbirth. No man should have the right to force these unasked for situations on 50% of the population.

              Personally, I can't imagine having an abortion. But I've never experienced the above situations or any other situation that would put me in a position of having to make such a decision. How painful a decision it must be. How dare they think it is their decision to make.

            •  I agree (none)
              Don't get me wrong -- I was explaining what fuels the issue for me personally. I believe wholeheartedly that the impulse to restrict access to abortion is rooted, for many people, in some kind of atavistic desire to control women's sexuality.

              But here's what those people have done. They've hidden themselves behind people like my next-door neighbor, a really kind, sweet Catholic lady who in her heart of hearts sees abortion as depriving life to a child. The frothing misogynists have appropriated that framework (though espousing violence against doctors doesn't do much for their credibility).

              I think pro-choicers have the advantage of being fairly unanimous about several frameworks: most of us are committed to feminism, and most of us are committed to children's welfare. That being the case, we can choose which one to emphasize. The feminist framework might rally the troops, but I don't think it'll win that many converts. But the children's-best-interests framework appeals to a nearly universal moral imperative -- while also forcing the right to really look at some of the situations they're so gung-ho to bring kids into, and explain how that jibes with wanting to cut welfare.

              •  You can't convert (none)

                Abortion is the type of issue that you cannot convert  someone to. If someone believes its wrong to kill and believes a fetus is alive theres not much you can say to get them to support your agenda.

                And Abortion in my opinion is a medical not political issue and should be decided by the doctors and medical community in my opinion not politicians.

                Where you won't win with abortion is the moral debate, you cannot convince someone its morally right to kill unless they already believe this and its the same as trying to convince people of the death penalty.

                •  Actually, it's not always that hard. (none)
                  You'd be surprised how many people take a position because of their peer group rather than deep philosophical thought.  

                  My ex-wife has a police record from being arrested while engaging in protest for Operation Rescue.  She had to serve community service.  She was very involved in the San Pedro evangelical community at the time.  Even made TV appearances.

                  After we became married, she changed her views.  I'd like to say that it's because I'm such a persuasive speaker, but, actually, I tried to respect her views while just expressing my disagreement.  

                  I think what made the difference was the loss of her peer group.  Religious groups have very strong peer-reinforcement of beliefs among their members.   When that becomes extended to political views, it can be a mighty force.

                  Her church, by the way, was headed by the brother of Bush 41's INS department head, Harold Ezell.

          •  It's still wrong (none)

            Just because you wish you werent born does not mean the rest of us agree with you. I was raised under difficult circumstances and I value my life along with all life in general.

            This has nothing to do with how a persons raised it has to do with how much you value life. Abortion is wrong because it decreases the value of life, its wrong for the same reason the death penalty is wrong.

        •  Pro-privacy (none)
          You're right.  We should reframe the abortion debate.  We are pro-privacy.  We think this should be a private decision between a woman and a doctor.  Not an easy decision, not something to take lightly, but each person has the right to privacy.

          By extension, the GOP is anti-privacy.

          The same could be said of the Patriot Act.

          Democrats: The party of rights.

          by Katydid on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:15:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not a bad idea (none)
            The Japanese have a similar ethos, insofar as no one questions either a woman's right to an abortion or the fact that abortion involves matters of life or death.  But could Americans deal with the subtlety of mourning unborn children (as the Japanese do, with special shrines no less) while at the same time remaining committed to women's sovereignty over their own bodies?  I doubt it.
            •  Because we need proof (none)
              That a fetus cannot survive outside of THAT womans specific body.

              If you can prove this then we can claim its a part of the womans body. However even if it is a part of the womans body and proven with science it still is wrong in most situations to kill a lifeform.

              It should not be something the woman decides on her own, she should get permission from an authority or doctor.

              I'm against abortion unless its authorized by someone qualified to make decisions like this and not all women have the sense to make decisions like these just like not all people have enough sense not to use gun and shoot people.

          •  This is something I can agree with but (none)

            The key is to have this not just be words but the actual policy. The policy of the government should be a policy of letting the medical community decide.
        •  You're right, Dragon (none)
          ...and just watch for the knee-jerk responses.  Those who oppose your kind of thinking are those who have fallen, deep, into the trap the GOP has set and  have themselves set back the progressive cause by miles and votes and support.   One of the marks of the progressive left is independent thinking and that means ungluing yourself from the popular kids in the class and making up your own mind. A plea to those who jump all over DragonChild and others who understand framing and the damage we do when we cooperate with it:  think for yourself.
        •  Re. I think that is off-target (none)
          I agree with you, but one problem is the the Catholic Church and other religious institutions have decided that life begins at conception. Therefore any action to end that life is murder.

          Opposing murder is an ultimate moral imperative. So in this case, from the standpoint of framing the debate, the pro-choice side is already screwed with a good portion of the public.

          •  When does life actually begin? (none)
            I think this is very important. If it actually does begin at conception what right do we have to put a value on the life of the fetus? I'm against all killing unless in self defense. I don't care how uncomfortable or painful it is to have labor, if a woman can physically have labor and give birth she should. What happens to the baby after giving birth is up to the mother but I believe life is priceless and valueable. The next president could be killed, Jesus himself could be killed because of abortion. So anyone with any religious beliefs or spirtual beliefs should consider the possible consequences of every action or policy. Abortion is a slippery slope just like the death penalty.
            •  Yeah. Well. (none)
              You'd sure as hell care about pain if it were you giving birth to a 11 lb breech baby, via natural childbirth.

              The point is NOBODY has the right to say that a woman has to give birth if it's not her will. Period.  

              I don't care what your beliefs are; if you don't believe in killing, don't kill. If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one. But don't take away everyone else's right to their own particular beliefs.

              Lucian is a man's name, right?

              I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Deaniac, now and always.

              by stellans on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 02:59:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why are you so defensive? (none)

                You act like I'm President Bush. I'm against abortion, live with it.

                If I were a woman I'd still be against abortion. I'm willing to go through months of pain to save a life.

                •  So what? (none)
                  So what if you were a woman, you'd "go through months of pain to save a life"?

                  That would be YOUR CHOICE, which is the whole point of the Pro-Choice movement. The big difference is that you're against abortion, so you'd force your opinion into law for everyone else. And the issue is very much one of choice. My body, my choice. It can't be any simpler than that.

                  But I honestly do not expect you to understand, for the simple reason of biology.

                  I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Deaniac, now and always.

                  by stellans on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 08:50:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  weird (none)
          I've always considered abortion an issue that progressives have generally done a good job of framing.

          The "pro-life" framing attempts to create a debate on the value of life, and that is a debate in which abortion rights supporters and the Democratic Party have (rightly) refused to participate. The "pro-choice" terminology reframes the debate in terms of self-ownership and privacy rights. The effectiveness of this is evident in anti-abortion slogans that attempt to dispute the framing directly ("it's a life, not a choice").

          Of course, the progressive frame has failed to dominate the issue, but so has the conservative one. The debate has become one between competing frames, which is very different from allowing Republicans to frame the debate and then taking an opposite stance within that framework.

      •  Neuro Linguistic Programming? (none)

        There are many books on this, and thats what it sounds like.
    •  Lakoff = A Smarter Dem Version of Luntz (4.00)
      A few weeks ago he was interviewed on NOW with Bill Moyers.  He lifts the veil on how easy it is to win the debate, using the power and impact of the proper words and phrases, and how the Dems can outFoxx the thugs.

      If the Dems have hired him, then they've made progress.

      Read Transcript Here

      See the 19 min Segment using Real Player

      For Dial up users, click here and under photo on left side.

      •  One problem - Repubs are good at calling (3.50)
        out the tactics in the press, and getting it covered. (Forget that they use the same tactics, and our attempts to call them on it do not get covered, cf. SBVFT vs CBS Memos)

        I'm sure the Repubs already have a response crafted, something like: The Dems think they can help the country if they just pick the right label for a policy.  Well policies are more than labels....yada yada.

        We've gotta think 2 steps ahead, not just respond in kind, or we're always playing catch-up, and the repubs keep their advantage.

        America began begins with freedom from King George's empire.

        by bribri on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:12:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  edwards debate (none)
          good morning everybody.  there's snow on the foothills up here.
          i know that kerry and edwards will be getting advice form everybody and his aunt, but i hope that edwards is playing over and over the tape of the the lieberman/cheney debate last cycle and noting cheney's talent for framing the topics like alice's crocodile who 'welcomes little fishes in with gently smiling jaws'. the spectacle of those two cynical old whores cosily licking each other's backsides was sickening and in fact lost the election for that decent man gore (don't ever forget!!!)in 2000.
          cheney will try to lure edwards into a discussion of foreign policy.  edwards, don't go there.  it is no part of the vice-president's job to set policy for the nation and should never have been part of cheney's.
          but edwards is a good debater.  cheney is old and fat and lazy and was never all that swift to start with. as long as edwards takes possession of the ball, cheney will flounder about waving his 'talking points' and fall back on his perennial sneer and craven predictions.
          are we downhearted? NO!
    •  sounds... (none)
      interesting and insightful
    •  Nurturing (4.00)
      I've been thinking about this for a while, and while I love the nurturing comparison, it still doesn't quite fit for me.  And that's because for many people, both the nurturing parent and the strict parent appeal to them.  And when that happens, nurturing is equated with Mommy, and strict with Daddy, and in those families, Daddy wins.  There's something about nurturing that is not as self-sufficient as strict, and frankly, something kind of sissy about it when viewed by the other side.

      When I'm most settled in my Democratness, I feel stronger than simply "nurturing".  To me, I don't think fairness is just an element of our frame.  I think it's the frame.  And not the compromise kind of fair.  I'm talking Solomon level of fair.

      Honestly, I think Solomon might be our ticket out of this mess.  Solomon the wise.  He was fair, he was strong, and no one thinks of him as a nuanced equivocator even with that thing with the baby.

      We need something more masculine or gender neutral than Nurturing.  I don't want to be known as the Mommy party.  We're the party of Solomon.

      •  Not either or (none)
        Lakoff makes the point that very few people fall exactly on the strong father or nurturing mother side of the model - we're all some mix of both.

        We've always claimed to be the party that cares about people; perhaps we need to add a "father" image to that, like "cares and protects".

        •  I see this in some research that I do (none)
          I do social research, and the more successful people do have a mix of attitudes.  They believe in personal responsibility AND equal access to opportunities. Of course, the people I interview are not exactly CEOs.  They are usually adults who are successfully emerging from welfare, or getting an education for the first time; that sort of thing.
      •  Continuing the Riff (4.00)
        Also, comparing Bush's thinking to "strict" is giving him way too much credit, and still yielding to their frame too much.  We can fight against their frame without giving them more credit than they deserve:

        It's the difference between wisdom, and dogma.  The difference between leadership, and bullying.  The difference between leading inclusively, and going it alone.  It's the difference between the wisdom of a king, and the actions of a tyrant.

        At this point it really isn't about nurturing, it's about reclaiming.  The revolution is already mostly over; they've almost won.  These opportunities that we're trying to advocate aren't things that we're trying to create, they are things that already exist that are rightfully ours.  They are being taken away little by little, and what it keeps on coming back to is that it is unfair.  The other side keeps trying to screw us, over and over again, and it's up to us to show the other people that it is happening, because I can only protect myself by convincing others to protect themselves as well.  I'm not putting my neighbors needs ahead of my own.  I'm not trying to nurture anyone above myself.  It's about basic fairness, protecting what's mine, about finding leaders wise enough to see this, and about the Golden Rule.

        As far as foreign policy, Bush's side doesn't really have to do with the strict father model, either.  What really happened is that they simply went berserk, left the house to beat up someone with the same last name as an attacker, while leaving all the doors to the house unlocked.  They sacrificed protection for a raw display of power.  They weren't strict.  They were so weak that they lost their cool and put us at risk.

      •  My sentiments also. (none)
        As a pro-gun, working class Dem, I had the same reservations.
        Lakoff caused me to examine my Democratness, and for me it does come to down to fairness. I'm a Democrat because we are the party of Labor, mostly. My other core values, being against torture, harsh justice, espoilation of the landscape, and empire abroad, I think most Republicans share.
        It's the class issue that really defines what being a Democrat is for me. It is the rapacious nature of the rich that makes me most angry.  
        Fairness. When I was a kid under Ike, the tax rate on a million dollars was 90%. I like that idea.
        But another point he makes is about alliance and common ground, and I'm willing to ally with the Mommy wing of the Party, if they'll help me stick it to the robber barons.
        The other thing he talks about that got me interested was 'strategic iniatives.' I already talked about that in another diary, but it was probably the most valuable thing I learned reading his book.

        To first time voters: Voting is just like driving; if you want to go forward, you put the lever on 'D'. If you want to go backward, put it on 'R'.

        by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:42:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then how do you explain wealthy dems? (none)
          The class struggle view of the current dem/repug split is a limited view that frequently falls apart; it is like one blind man's description of an elephant.

          I live in a wealthy neighborhood (houses start at a half mil) in a college town where many houses have had "no war" and "peace" signs on their lawns for over a year, and the Kerry/Edwards signs have sprouted like dandelions in spring.

          I am also a free-trade dem. And I am enthusiastic about being in the party of Labor.

          •  Perhaps... (none)
            you have hit on the problem with today's Democratic party: It's so close to the Republican party that wealthy people living in college towns can agree with it.

            If one takes a somewhat assertive progressive viewpoint, there shouldn't even BE any half a million dollar houses when so many people live in ratty apartments. Why isn't the property tax and inheritance tax so high that such houses become rare?

            And how can a wealthy person truly support organized labor, when the purpose of organized labor is to equalize incomes between class levels? "From each according to his ability," etc., i.e. "take the money away from the wealthy people and use it to help the less able."


            On the other hand I do agree with you on the free-trade part of it because (unlike the current Democratic party) I haven't yet forgotten that it is the workers OF THE WORLD that are to unite against exploitation, not the "workers of America united against the workers of India or China."

            Today's Democratic party is a clone of the Republicans...

      •  No, we're the party of adults (4.00)
        If you wanted to be treated like an adult, where you're given the facts and allowed to decide via ballot box and discussion and debate what's right for you, you want to join the Democrats. If you want to be treated like a child who can't possibly understand the wide scary world full of terrorists outside, so you need to be lied to to make sure you make the 'right decision' that's already been decided without your input or honest open discussion, you want the current crop of Republicans in the white house. Gay sex make you feel icky? Why then it must be bad! Let's ban it! Do as I say or else the boogey man bin Ladin/Saddam will get you? Alright then, better do that! Dad says he's six feet tall and has WMD and eats little boys who don't vote Republican!
        •  Terrific analogy (none)
          I've heard that one before, but not put so well. If it makes you feel icky, it must be bad -- no matter if it makes other people feel great and has no effect whatsoever on anyone else. That pretty much sums up the repug/fascist mindset.
        •  Franken's Theory (none)
          Al Franken had a theory very similar to this, saying that conservatives "love America" more akin to how children love their mother, in a rational but subordinate role.
          On the other hand, liberals and their "love" are more like a married couple, who argue, listen, converse.
      •  Strict Father vs Nurturing Parent (not mother) (none)
        Read Lakoff. He does not frame this as male vs. female. That would be a mistake.

        The essence of progressive values are inclusive, vs. conservative values, which are exclusionary and confrontational.

        Lakoff deliberately contrasts the imbalanced, one-sided paternal frame of the Republicans with the balanced, yin-yang, inclusive model of the Democrats.

        It is not either-or, it is and.

        "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

        by galiel on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:16:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nuturing parent or strict father... (none)
        My mother was the strict parent and my father wasn't particularly nurturing.  I would describe his approach as mostly laissez-faire but setting a good example.

        Lakoff's own use of the terms he uses to promote frames is revealing and seems gender biased.  

        He uses the term strict father (male) and nuturing parent (gender-neutral).  Where are the women.  Maybe they are in his discussions but not in his frames.

        Ummm...wonder what he's got against women?

        •  Um, talk about missing the point (none)
          Have you actually read Lakoff?

          The "strict father" frame is not a statement about actual parenting or actual gender roles in education. It is a statement about the conservative mindset, which is gender-biased, and about how the Republicans use that frame effectively while Democrats do not use the inclusive, gender-neutral nurturing parent frame to their advantage.

          Talk about knee-jerk dogmatism. Read what the person says rather than prejudge the entire world according to your narrow antagonistic lens.

          "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

          by galiel on Fri Oct 01, 2004 at 07:17:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually yes... (none)
            I have read some of Lakoff...well at least I tried to read it.  Someone pointed me to the Rockbridge website.  

            I thought it was sophomoric then and I still do.  A lot of discussion here seems to think Lakoff invented this stuff.  If so, where did Luntz learn?  Luntz is much better at "framing" than Lakoff.

            And I do think it is revealing that Lakoff's primary context for framing excludes women.  I would bet Barbara Bush had a much greater impact on W than GHW did.

            If you want to know about the mind set that Bush appeals to most (beyond the Primitive Baptists, etc.), attend a Promise Keepers event or at least check them out.

            Finally, sometimes you may have to resort to tactics you abhor to defeat an enemy, but are we there yet?  I hate pr/marketing/spinning.  I don't like it done to me.  I don't want to do it to others.

            •  I don't see any of that in Lakoff's actual message (none)
              1. No one is claiming that Lakoff invented framing, least of all Lakoff. On the contrary, his whole point is that the conservatives have mastered it and have used it consciously for years.

              2. Lakoff's primary context for framing does not exclude women. His point is that the conservative framing excludes women. His proposal of alternative liberal framing includes women. That is an utter invention of yours.

              3. What does attending Promse Keepers have to do with any of this, except to refute your own point and show that, as Lakoff explains, the conservative frame is the one that excludes or at least diminishes and demeans women.

              4. Who is advocating "resorting to tactics you abhor to defeat an enemy"? Least of all me, who is constantly fighting here for the definition of progressivism as just means being worthy ends, vs. the ends justifying the means. Becoming aware of framing is not "pr/marketing/spinning", any more than becoming informed about how advertising manipulates our emotions and thinking is engaging in "pr/marketing/spinning". Is anything in the liberal frame that Lakoff lays out dishonest or manipulative?

              You misunderstand the entire meaning of "frame" as Lakoff uses it. Language influences thought. If you use language unconsciously, you are still influencing thought. If your opponent uses it consciously, and what is more, dishonestly, then a) if you are made aware of it, you are forwarned, and b) if you learn how to use your own language more consciously and deliberately, you can be more effective in communicating your own language - not by lying or manipulating, but by being more effective.

              To be frank, your approach seems extremely prejudicial. You seem to evaluate everything through a very narrow and rather hostile lens, regardless of the actual content. Neither Lakoff nor I -- nor Howard Dean, who made Lakoff's book required reading for his entire staff - are anti- or dismissive of or exclusionary towards women. By having that prejudicial mindset when approaching his work, you completely and utterly miss the point of the whole "framing" discussion.

              "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

              by galiel on Fri Oct 01, 2004 at 12:03:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Nurturing is NOT coddling (none)
        Like the strict father, a nurturing parent also makes sure their child is well prepared to take care of themselves. Nurturing isn't coddling, which leaves an individual inept and dependant. Nurturing is helping one grow and fulfill their potential. It is providing an environment which will support, teach, and even challenge, so that the individual has the tools and temperment to succeed.

        I think the main difference is that the nurturer teaches their child that we are all responsible for creating a better society, while the strict father teaches the child that all they have to do is look out for himself/herself.

      •  Lakoff Isn't Saying "Mommy Party" (3.66)
        Another poster hit the nail on the head by identfying Atticus Finch as the model nurturant father.  Let me tell you, there was nothing sissified about him.  

        I think that you are confusing Lakoff's deep analysis--which is a conceptual one--with questions of presentation, which you are unconsciously mis-reading back into Lakoff. The point is, nurturance is a foundation. It's a foundation that can support enormous strenth--much more strength than the Strict Father model can. So, when it's time to talk about strength, we should talk about strength. But unless we are clear about where it comes from--about the foundations in nurturance--we are very liable to get confused, and sucked into Strict Father representations of strength.  

        This is precisely what's been happening with Kerry ever since the Swift Boat ads came out.  You know, when he saved one man's life, that was an act of nurturant strength. And, when he came back and worked to stop the war, he saved a lot more lives--which was also an act of nurturant strength.  If Kerry had internalized Lakoff's thinking, he would not have such a hard time explaining this.  And he wouldn't have to say a word about "nurturance" to do so.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:58:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good (4.00)
          Yes, I do think it's a difference behind metaphor and presentation - Lakoff probably didn't intend "Nurturing" versus "Strict" as an actual frame.  At least, I hope not, because I really do think that when their connotations are compared head-to-head, Strict just wins.  Most people would say that both sides have their strengths, but most people would feel uncomfortable saying that when there's an emergency and things are at their most dire, that they'd prefer Nurturing.  Strict has a "when-it-gets-right-down-to-it"-ness that Nurturing doesn't in matters of emergency (and foreign policy).  Nurturing has a way of pulling people (and nation states) up onto an equal level that folks may feel these entities don't deserve.  Plus, Nurturing has an unfortunate connotation of being burdened and inviting dependent relationships.
          •  "Strict v. Nurturing" (none)
            Lakoff uses the terms "Strict Father" and "Nurturant Parent" based on what he discovered as researcher. It was not his attempt to frame things as a political advocate. In Moral Politics he sharply divides his work into two parts--the purely descriptive/analytic part which deals with how the two models work, and the evaluative part which investigates and argues for why the liberal model is superior, based in its grounding in a parenting model that works.

            Now, this may well be a weakness in one sense. Lakoff's intention to be as fair and accurate as possible in the analytic phase doesn't produce the juiciest debating language.  But it's a strength in another sense--it's accurate. Which means that when you look at all the things that flow from the frame, they all make sense.

            When you say, "I really do think that when their connotations are compared head-to-head, Strict just wins," I think you are simply reflecting the fact that conservatives have spent the last 30 years framing the issues, while liberals haven't.

            And you yourself are buying into their frame when you say, "most people would feel uncomfortable saying that when there's an emergency and things are at their most dire, that they'd prefer Nurturing."

            Why is this buying into their frame?  Simple. Nurturing is about preventing things from becoming so dire in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all that. It's the Strict Parent frame that it's a dangerous world out there, a world that's defined by emergencies and things being at their most dire--and that's the frame that you've invoked.

            Well, I've got news for you. There are much bigger dangers out there than the conservatives imagine--global warming and AIDs, just to mention two.  And do you see the Strict Father types doing jack shit about either? No, you do not.

            There are good reasons why conservatives ignore the biggest threats we face. (They ignored Hitler, too. They even ignored Communism--conservatives in the Senate were opposed to the Marshall Plan and NATO. The only Communists they wanted to fight were the ones in the State Department.)  Put simply, they don't believe in learning through dialogue. Strict Father knows best, so he has nothing to learn from others. So if you come to them with an argument about how there's this new problem, or even threat that they should worry about, they just think you're trying to put something over on them. This is precisely how Bush & Co. reacted to the Clinton Administration warnings about Al Qaeda.

            It's actually a nurturing approach that makes one more sensitive to challenges before they become problems, much less emergencies or crises.

            Now, admittedly, this doesn't come across instantly when say the words "Strict Father" vs. "Nurturant Parent." But why should it?  It took years--decades even--of Conservatives working to implant their connections in people's brains.  It will take time for us to do the same.  

            Remember, Lakoff is arguing both about what is really going on--"Strict Father" vs. "Nurturant Parent"--and about how to communicate. He is not saying that we should lead with speeches titled "Let Us Nurture You!" How you present the nurturant parent position is something to be worked in a myriad of different ways.  

            But if you try to change the basic framework to make it sound "tougher" or whatever, you will be distorting the fundamental insight, and doing so to match an environment that's been defined by the other side.  This would be a double mistake.

            The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

            by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:44:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Strict Father vs. Kids of Police (4.00)
          A moment's thought will make it clear that Strict Father is no way to run a railroad.  The kids of Strict Fathers--kids of police, ministers, politicians, any figure of authority---tend to be way more screwed up and liable to completely screw up their lives and those of others than the kids of normal people.
      •  Missing the point (none)
        I must not have been clear - I am not saying that Lakoff is calling us the Mommy party.  I'm saying it's too easy to frame "nurturing" as feminine/mommy, which is too easy for the other side to use as a negative.  A good frame also has to be good at inoculating itself against attacks.  So I think the "nurturing" frame needs to be improved.  I don't want to have our side opened up to the attack of the other side of calling us the Mommy party, because in their mind, every Mommy needs a Daddy.

        In other words, it is relatively easy to argue that a nurturing approach is not appropriate in certain cases.  It is much harder to argue that an unwise or unfair approach is not appropriate in certain cases.  "Wise" and "Fair" might not capture every positive quality that "Nurturing" does, but there's got to be another frame/metaphor/word that is similar to "Nurturing" but also isn't as open to attack.

        •  This analogy is right (none)

          This analogy is right.

          Could a child survive without any help from parents? Republicans seem to think so. They tell the child its their responsibility to survive and when the child goes crazy, breaks laws, robs people, or turns terrorist, they once again blame the child for not surviving in the proper way.

          Blaming people solves nothing if you arent willing to correct their mistakes.

        •  This analogy is right (none)
          This analogy is right.

          Could a child survive without any help from parents? Republicans seem to think so. They tell the child its their responsibility to survive and when the child goes crazy, breaks laws, robs people, or turns terrorist, they once again blame the child for not surviving in the proper way.

          Blaming people solves nothing if you arent willing to correct their mistakes.

    •  Unless you are Grover Norquist (none)
      and you want father to protect the family from the dangerous world but ignore the family otherwise. Father doesn't have to support or teach the family anything. The children will do their own thing and father better stay out of their way.

      So what is Bush's "compassionate conservatism"? Father pretending to be a nurturer but failing miserably because his heart isn't it? Shoveling money into the family business, thinking that will improve the bottom line, but it only sinks the family further into debt to their neighbors?

      Sounds like a good book. Already has me thinking.

      •  turn it around: deadbeat dads (none)
        How do we turn the frame into painting the repub-type view as a deadbeat dad?

        Also, "This American Life" (WBEZ radio show) had a show about protective dads - it turned out they were hopeless when left alone in the house for a while to fend for themselves.

        America began begins with freedom from King George's empire.

        by bribri on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:06:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually this would be genius (none)

          That plan would be genius to win the female vote.

          It would be wise the democratic party actually listened to the advice on these blogs. I'm sure republicans read these blogs and discuss what you say.

    •  I, too was just exposed to this book. (none)
      A couple of days ago, and had the same reaction. I posted a diary about it
      along with some ideas it gave me.

      To first time voters: Voting is just like driving; if you want to go forward, you put the lever on 'D'. If you want to go backward, put it on 'R'.

      by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:00:46 AM PDT

    •  The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future (none)
      Riane Eisler's book, The Chalice and The Blade, also approached this framing from a more spiritual, feminist model:

      "We have often been told that a just and peaceful society is merely a utopia-an impossible dream. We are taught religious dogmas of "original sin" and their secular updates in socio-biological theories about "selfish genes." Not coincidentally, in both cases, these notions are embedded in stories about how male dominance is either divinely or scientifically ordained.

      The real alternative to a patriarchal or male-dominant society is a very different way of organizing social relations. This is the partnership model, where, beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species between male and female, diversity is not equated with inferiority or superiority, dominating or being dominated....societies that orient primarily to one or the other of these models have characteristic configurations or patterns.

      •  Chalice and Blade (none)
        Seeing Chalice and Blade (also metaphors for male and female reproductive organs) reminded me of something fascinating I read about entymology - "vagina"'s source comes from something that means the same thing as "sheath" - isn't that ugly?  A sheath is something that only has the purpose of housing a blade.  And "cunt" actually has a quite honorable entymology although I forget what it is, something about the name of a goddess.  The pagan goddess Cundrie, I believe?  I think it's another example of a positive-connotation pagan belief being turned into something negative by people doing things "in the name of Christianity".  Anyway, I've always thought it was interesting that those two words have kind of switched places over the centuries...
    •  Lakoff's earlier book (none)
      Moral Politics covers the same ground, but it sounds like this book is probably an easier read and more prescriptive, which is probably what the earlier book lacked.

      The other person we should probably be listening to is Danny Goldberg on talking to younger voters. I haven't read his book (Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit, but there are links to articles by or about him here, here, here, and here

      •  Yeah (none)
        I didn't get beyond the jacket of Moral Politics (which I still want to read), but this book is short -- about 120 pages -- and written in a way that I could pick it up and digest in a few hours. Clearly more practical than theoretical.
      •  Moral politics (none)
        also resolves some of the misunderstandings that have been posted above. (I suspect the new book does too) Some kossians have objected to nurturance on the bases of apparent weakness or femininity. But Lakoff's nurturant family realizes that the "strong father's" belief in his self reliance is a cover for fear of his sons (gets a little Freudian huh?) who have to be thrown out of the home to stand on their own. It makes for an ineffective tribe. The biggest difference, to my mind, is that conservatives believe that teaching requires punishment, liberals that it requires example. A nurturant father and mother have to be stronger and wiser but they always get better results.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:08:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Modelling (none)
          Interestingly, Lakoff never really stresses this, but one reason that nurturant parenting works, while authoritarian parenting doesn't, is that nurturant parents model how to act in a way that children can imitate, and refine through feedback from their parents.

          In contrast, children cannot act like the Strict Father (that would be "backtalk"), at least not within the family, where they can get feedback, and learn from mistakes while they are relatively minor.  They can, of course, act out outside the family, passing judgment on others, telling them how to behave, etc. But this is much more crude than the sort of intimate, communicative modelling available via nurturant parenting.

          The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

          by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:05:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm reading the politics of morality (none)
      It sounds like the same type of themes, I have been swamped with school but have read some on the frames of reference that republicans and democrates see the world and why we talk past each other and why we have been getting killed in the framing of issues and the sparing of politics.... We don't have message dicipline and let ourselves get framed. I bought the book because many here recommended it. I just read a piece in the atlantic monthly on the debates and he is quoted in it.

      Lots of people see the world in Black and White. It is mostly just shades of grey.

      by Davinci on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:08:33 AM PDT

    •  2 things: (none)
      1. Some of what Lakoff is saying is not new nor is it news to many.  One is the point about how bills are named or positions named.  Assault Weapons Ban is a pro-Democratic name; Death Tax is a pro-Republican name.  While not new, Lakoff is still a valuable resource; he also perceives an understanding of all these issues that I haven't seen yet.  Good news if the Dems have actually hired them.  

      2. Another important book to read is Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction, and Democracy by Kathleen Hall Jamieson.  It's an old book (pub. 1992), but many of its lessons are completely relevant to today.  The book discusses a lot about what's wrong with the press and how to work the press.  There's a historical bent to it.  In it, I also learned that the Reagan campaign leaked false information to Bob Novak that Carter had dispatched his legal counsel to Geneva to arrange a "deal to exchange American hostage for military equipment vital to the Iranain war effort agianst Iraq."  So the Republicans using Bob Novak to leak "information" for political purposes is not new. When does this man get thrown in jail, and when will he stop being called a journalist?  Someone take his column away from him!
    •  Conservative and "Community" (none)
      Any discussion of political communities really has to consider FreeRepublic as a blog, as the only reason it isn't is that it pre-dates the blog concept.  FR is about as sticky as Kos, but with a few important differences, chiefly the "herd-mind" mentality.  Jim Robinson still does a good job keeping the thought united, and I'm sure a good portion of us here have been banned at least once from FR for posting something not "intellectually pure", not even something gasp moderate, or even HORROR liberal.  So it's not quite a community, rather, what they WANT a community to be; where everybody nods in assent so the Secret Police doesn't round them up and ban/eliminate them.
      •  Good point... (none)
        Great connect with the discussion and the  blogs. This posting is extremely insightful.

        I've been taught frames from a theoretical business management perspective (e.g., structural, symbolic, human resources and political), but have never seen it in a psychoanalytical partisan context.  The author definitely conveys insightful perpectives but, as in business, theory is one thing -implimenting it and making it work effectively is a much more difficult task.  

      •  dunno (none)
        I know quite a few people who have been banned from this site for not being "intellectually pure", mostly for holding "conservative" ideas (although I personally know one of them is a far-leftist, of the Marxist sort, so I have no idea how he ended up being considered a conservative).  So it sort of goes both ways.

        FreeRepublic is quite a bit worse, of course, but it's not like DK is the Jeffersonian free speech zone to contrast with PR's totalitarianist approach.  In fact, I wonder if I'll get banned for this comment...

        •  "banned" as in (none)
          kicked off administratively?  Or are you referring to rating-assisted oblivion?  I do see a disturbing number of zeroes and ones bestowed on posts that vigorously argue a non-majority stance.  Seems like human nature at work.
        •  Banning for a good reason (none)
          I'm all for banning anyone that comes in any blog and starts one-sided arguments, uses ad hominem attacks, or is generally underhanded and rude.
          I post on a few conservative blogs, just to get a read on what is going on over in that world. But just picking fights is obnoxious, and is reason enough to take someone down a notch.
      •  It does go both ways (none)
        But we try to keep away from being too smug, hypocritical or something like that. Liberals, as often exhibited here, are more self-conscious that most cons that i know and especially those of Freeperville.

        And whereas Freepers BAN people who don't agree with them, Kos doesn't do that. Of course, quite often, as with the Naderites, we do it for Kos.

        Banning is not very democratic, we KNOW that. The conservatives probably know that too, they just think it's a liberal plot to overtake the government.

        Republicans best friend is ignorance.

        by Jonesyboy on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:13:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It goes both ways (none)
      It isn't that simple.  Two phenomena I find with OVERWHELMING frequency on the conservative side are A) arrogance, and B) hypocrisy.  (Which is why I'm so hostile when I observe either among liberals -- I don't want it ANYWHERE.)

      An example of arrogance, in context.  Conservatives aren't opposed to "community", within their own frame.  In fact, "community" is much more a tangible thing in rural, conservative areas.  In the cities I live, it's amazing if you're on speaking terms with your own neighbors.  After all, everyone moves every couple years, so what's the point in making the effort?  On the other hand, small-town communities can get quite close-knit.  The breakdown isn't that conservatives oppose community; they oppose TEAMWORK.  Prevailing concepts are hostile rumormill, family shame, "blame the victim".  Social cures are just invasions into private matters they'd rather keep secret -- with good reason.  These close-knit communities are openly cordial, but can be saturated with downright hostility boiling just below the surface.  Every family has a bad apple, and no family is forgiving of others.

      Thus, the bad apples get suppressed, introducing HYPOCRISY.  Domestic abuse?  Private matter.  Family abuse?  Don't ask, don't tell.  Any victim speaks up, even a small child, and they're INSTANTLY stigmatized with jaw-dropping hostility.  It sickens me how the "family values" crowd can show such active hatred and disregard for their own so-called "loved ones".  No, it's not as simple as rhetoric.  It's that hypocrisy and denail are so crucial to keeping "family values" conservatives' heads from exploding that facing difficult truths (like voting for a moron) get through to them like spitballs against a brick wall.

      •  Note my subject line is off (none)
        I was going to write about liberal rhetoric, which is also an issue.  But I wound up getting bogged down in conservative hypocrisy and arrogance.  I'd seen far too much of it lately to let them off the hook.
      •  Community of conservatives (none)
        In a sense, the conservatives do form a functional community, where all of them - top advisors, funders, RNC, pundits, "fair and balanced" media, blogers... - effectively support each other in the pursuit of one goal - winnng for more years. In this direction, they incarnate the communist phrase "From everyone according to abilities, to everyone according to needs" just perfectly ;-]
    •  What about the Drug War? (none)
      I'd be very interested to see how this framing fits with the Drug War -- does Lakoff address it?

      Decades of failed drug policy continue to be pursued by both parties.

      Republicans use the moral/crime and punishment strict father approach, and Democrats talk about nurturing, but end up convincing themselves that being "tough" on drugs is the way to be "providing protection" (or perhaps it just provides political cover).

      Democrats have talked treatment, but often voted for longer sentences; they talk after-school programs, but vote for drug testing.

      Is there a way to frame the nurturing protection that doesn't involve the current situation where over 1 in 20 black men of voting age in the country is in a state or federal prison?  (Hmm, I wonder how many votes that was in Florida?)

      Can nurturing also involve being "smart" on crime and drugs, instead of "tough?"

      •  There's an element of Libertarianism. (none)
        That is slowly taking hold in the drug war, and I think that is the way it is going.
        As a drug user, buyer, and occasional seller, I didn't get to pick the side I'm on in the drug war; but it is the winning side.

        To first time voters: Voting is just like driving; if you want to go forward, you put the lever on 'D'. If you want to go backward, put it on 'R'.

        by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:30:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Back at the start (none)
        of the drug war Nixon compromised with a democratic congress. About half of the money for the first several years was spent on treatment. It was very effective. Methadone clinics, especially, treated thousands of junkies and rehabilitated many of them to productive citizenship. The punitive drug war was founded by Nelson Rockefeller who found it to be a really cool way to beat Democrats in New York. The prison/industrial complex ate up all the money and the clinics dissappeared.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:17:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some thoughts on Drug policy (none)
        This isn't really about framing, maybe someone will take that issue up, but I think the "War on Drugs" is one of the most spectacularly failed national policies of recent years, it hasn't really done anything except put a lot of people who generally weren't a threat in jail.  

        I read a book a while back called "The Botany of Desire" by Micheal Pollan, and he had a very interesting section on Marijuana where he argued that the whole "War on Drugs" was a more of less naked grab for state power and against civil liberties and I haven't seen anything that really contradicts his conclusions(at least with regard to Marijuana).   And while we're talking about drugs, the only thing that I can think of that Gary Johnson(the last Governer of NM) did that I actually liked was attempt to start a new dialogue on National Drug policy, I wish that had gone somewhere, as we really need to revise our drug policies, if nothing else we could significantly reduce our embarrasingly large prison population and the corresponding drain on our economy.

      •  Do republicans actually care? (none)

        We could say republicans are the strict father, but does the current republican party actually care about the majority of the people?

        I'm not saying democrats care, but republicans don't really offer alternatives when they remove programs. When welfare was reformed we did not increase investment in the education system to balance this.

    •  I think it's dead on (none)
      and Clinton was the ultimate nurturer. Hell, so was the greatest and longest running democratic show, FDR.  Lincoln was, when the political party polarities were reversed. Doesn't matter whether the nurturer is dealing with the neocon born agains and budding facists, the depression or the Civil War, Dems win when daddy got drunk got into a fight and wrecks the car and now mommy's gotta fix it. Ralph Cramden fucked up big time, and now his arrogance and reality in a head-on, it's  Alice to the rescue. But back to Clinton again, he showed us the biggest factor in winning elections is still political talent.

      <"Do not seek the treasure!" >

      by moon in the house of moe on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:26:13 AM PDT

    •  Moral Politics (none)
      Now get yourself a copy of Lakoff's Moral Politics a book that goes into greater detail on the subject.  It will be time well spent.
    •  Wonderful and less than timely (none)
      Too bad activists couldn't have been steeped in this earlier in this Presidential cycle. It's truly brilliant and precient, but I have dim hope that this can help now. I love it, but without time... I can only hope.
      •  Not Over Till The Fat Lady Sings. (none)
        We'll take any edge we can get. Oh, and as I'm sure you're aware, it'll take a lot more than merely hoping.

        The best intentions in the world, placed on a shelf, are worthless.

        by chuco35 on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:30:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lakoff is brilliant (none)
      I first encountered George Lakoff on the web last year, in an interview posted at the Berkeley web site. They put up a second interview recently... both are well worth reading.

      There's a Lakoff DVD out now, maybe already mentioned in the rapidly growing thread which I haven't read through yet...

      Google him.

      He's prescribing exactly the right medicine.

      •  Lakoff video on web (none)
        The DVD I mentioned a minute ago? Here. $15 gets you 25 minutes of Lakoff... Why, that's onIy pennies a minute!

        I also found some (maybe all) of this same video on the web, in two long Quicktime chunks, a few days ago, but damned if I can find it now.

        There's quite a bit of assorted Lakoff video on the web.

        At the rate his memes are spreading, I expect to see an infomercial soon.

    •  I like Lakoff's argument about frames... (none)
      But this framing of the argument in terms of family relationships doesn't satisfy me, somehow.

      I, personally, identify more with the "conservative" family definition, used above.

      When I hear talk about "open two-way communication," I feel like I'm slipping into Dr. Phil La-la-land, some area where good feelings doesn't intersect with the real world of tough knocks.

      And yet, I don't see myself as a conservative at all.  I see our present situation in very stark and scary terms.  We are about to lose another Vietnam-ish war because of incompetence.  Incompetence doesn't get too many pats on the back in the "conservative family" frame of things, does it?

      And there is a moral failure here.  The failure of a president of the United States to use proper judgment, take good advice, and to make decisions based on what's good for the country rather than what will optimize his political fortunes.  That is a moral failure.

      From either frame, Bush looks very bad, indeed.

      I also don't understand the family-orientation of one of the points in the conservative frame: "They are against social programs that take care of people. That is what they see as wrong. That is what they are trying to eliminate on moral grounds."

      I have heard the moral arguments.  But listen carefully to those "moral" arguments, and underneath, you can hear a simmering class resentment, a feeling that some other type of people (like... blacks? illegal immigrants? gays?) are unfairly benefitting from social programs.  

      We should be careful not to confuse which came first.  The resentment came first, and then the moral justification for the resentment.

      •  That last one is a very telling point. n/t (none)

        To first time voters: Voting is just like driving; if you want to go forward, you put the lever on 'D'. If you want to go backward, put it on 'R'.

        by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:48:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  two families (none)
        a few weeks ago I heard an example of the two families.  to visualize the conservative family is an Arnold Swarzenegger movie, while the liberal family is in the mold of the cosby show.
      •  Adding a little bit more to my post... (none)
        When I was a kid, my grandma, who was a Southern Baptist from Little Rock, Arkansas, used to tell me that blacks deserved their lowly place in the world.  There were a number of important biblical quotes in this regard.  

        One was about how Ham, having seen his father's nakedness, his children were cursed to be slaves.  Genesis chapter 9.

        The Bible sure is handy, huh?  The oppression of the blacks was something they deserved.  It's not the fault of the people that bought and sold them -- it's ol' Ham's fault.

        People manufacture moral reasons to justify their political desires.

      •  Chicken And Egg (4.00)
        You ask good questions, Dumbo.  I want to make two points in response.

        (1) Lakoff's argument is based on a metaphorical mapping between the family realm and the political realm. But it doesn't mean that your personal family experience must mesh with your politics. (Lakoff himself says that he employs the Strict Father model in his academic work, because that's the way that the academic world is structured.)

        In fact, a large number of working-class families are Strict Father families. Yet they were the base of New Deal liberalism. The conservative strategy to woo them over is to make them identify more with their family model than their economic self-interest.  

        For many decades, the pattern established in the Great Depression held, and these voters identified more with their class. But as conservatives made a play for them on family model grounds (via culture war politics), Democrats tried to respond by "moving to the center," thus abandoning the main thing they had to counter this--a strong model of nurturance in the economic sphere, via things like unempoloyment insurance, worker retraining programs, affordable college education for all, etc.

        So, to sum up, there's a lot of play in how these mappings work, particularly when we talk about individual cases.  What Lakoff is doing is talking about logically coherent frameworks and how they work.  Most of the time most of us will vary from these frameworks, but they represent a coherent baseline around which people will vary in different ways.

        (2) I agree completely that rationalization is a very big factor here.  A good framework for thinking about this is Social Dominance Theory (SDT), as laid out in the book Social Dominance:  An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression by Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto.

        SDT which places such rationales in what it calls the realm of "legitimating myths" (LMs) which are either hierarchy enhancing (HE) or hierarchy attenuating (HA). People incline toward one or the other according to attitudinal factors described generally as "Social Dominance Orientation" (SDO), which in turn is influenced by a variety of factors--not least by how privileged you are in the existing social system.

        Because we're a relatively egalitarian society (formally democratic, universal rights in principle, etc.), many of the HE LMs are presented in a form that's outwardly HA. One example is "egalitarian" arguments against affirmative action--which would be far more convincing if it weren't for the fact that these arguments are held more strongly by people who believe in an us-vs-them world.

        The value of the SDT approach for this discussion is that it stresses the stability of social systems. The content of LMs may change over time, as moral standards change--the end of legal segragation, for example--but new LMs with similar functions can be expected to emerge. Some people genuinely believe these LMs, others cynically employ them, others are fooling themselves as much as anyone else.  And yes, for all three groups, more often than not, "The resentment came first, and then the moral justification for the resentment."  But, of course, the very fact that justification is needed points to the weakness of these positions.

        Now, Lakoff's work connects with SDT in a very straight-forward manner: he is explaining the underlying logic that gives coherence to HE LMs on one side (the Strict Father model) and to HA LMs on the other (the Nurturant Parent model).  Explaining the underlying logic is a different sort of explanation than what you're talking about, which is more about why people chose one set of LMs or the other. And that gets back to SDO itself.

        Thus, your observations--which are quite valid--should not be seen as an objection to, or refutation of Lakoff.  Rather, they point to a larger set of issues.  There are very real limits to how much can be done simply by the sort of work that Lakoff is focused on, which SDT helps to illuminate. But Lakoff himself is aware of this. He does not believe we can change the world overnight, nor that language alone can do the trick.  He is simply saying that language has a vital role to play in changing the world, and nothing in SDT would dispute this view.  

        By studying Lakoff, SDT and other sources of insight, we can become much more adept at unmasking the rationalizaitons and hypocrisy, and much better at presenting an authentic morality in its place.  This is only part of the battle, of course. But it is a vital part.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:54:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks... that clarifies things. (none)
          Especially the part about trying to MAKE people identify more with their family model.

          A small point about your Depression-era liberals....   It's worth remembering that during the Great Depression, many people had to rely on the extended family, a family model that isn't as prevalent today.  In this type of family, helping others (other members of the extended family) was an important family value.

          Can the extended family model be used in frame creation the way you have described was done with the Strict Father family?  The extended family isn't as common today, certainly not among whites.  But it does still exist in significant number in some minority groups, especially first, second, third generation Hispanics, a highly sought after demographic.  

          Just a thought to throw out there.

          Thanks for making a very intelligent post.  :)

          •  Extended Family (none)
            There's no reason the extended family can't be used, except for the fact that it's relative un-American.  Ever since folks landed here, they began moving away from their kin.  

            I expect that one reason US conservatives are so far to the right of European conservatives has to do with the relative strength of extended families in Europe.  Mainstream conservatives in Europe are often well to the left of Democrats on social spending issues and the like.

            The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

            by Paul Rosenberg on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 06:13:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  What's new here? (none)
      I've seen multiple positive reviews of this book, and for the life of me I can't figure out what's notable about it. Sure, what he says is correct: how you frame the debate has a big impact, since you basically manage to get certain assumptions for free without arguing for them, by making them appear obvious. However, this is not a new observation, even in the mainstream: the term "framing the debate" or "framing the discussion" has been in common usage for decades now. I've heard "what if we frame the discussion in terms of [blah]?" countless times in my philosophy classes, and quite a long time ago too. Hell, I think Nietzsche discussed the very same issue back in the 1870s.

      I feel like I must be missing something, so please point it out if I am. Is Lakoff saying something besides the obvious fact that how you frame the debate to a large expect impacts the course of the debate, and therefore it is in your best interests to frame it in terms slanted towards your own views?

      •  Yes, he says a lot more than that. (none)
        The language and the debate framing I think is the smaller part of it. The most interesting is the strategic stuff.
        I realize it's obvious to advocate that we think strategically and long term, but he gives a lot of examples that got me thinking about how to actually do it.

        To first time voters: Voting is just like driving; if you want to go forward, you put the lever on 'D'. If you want to go backward, put it on 'R'.

        by AWhitneyBrown on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:52:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not content, POWER (none)
        I too miss the big deal here.  Good ocntent is good.  Golly!

        What's more, given corporate media domination, what difference does good, or even superior, content mean anyway?  It won't be accurately relayed to the people, if relayed at all.  The issue isn't content.  The issue is power, and we have less and less every day.

      •  I'm all over the place here (4.00)
        I'm sorry for the noise pollution. . . I'm just waiting for a shower of 0's and 1's to boot me off.

        Anyway, I think I see the difference.  What you're describing is conventional wisdom re: "framing the debate".  What Kos is blown away by, methinks, is the revelation that "frames" are to define the OTHER side.  All the words describing liberalism have been hand-chosen by the RNC!  For instance, if you're against a "death tax", then well, OF COURSE the other side is FOR a "death tax"!  The Dems hardly talk about fighting plutocracy; which word is more familiar and reviled among voters, "plutocracy" or "socialism"?  GOP frames are more about opposing straw men in the hopes that the Dems will jump to the defense of bad, non-existent causes [albeit closely related to good, existing causes].  The Dems have been only too eager to jump at the bait.  Stupid Dems would rather be seen fiercely defending a "death tax" than valiantly fighting "old-money plutocracy".  If Dems pushed sushi they'd market it as "cold, dead raw fish".

        The cure here is not to fiddle with rhetoric per se or engage the GOP within their own frame, but to reset the debate itself.  That's easier said than done, because the GOP stopped arguing in good faith years ago, and it's a classic liberal pattern to try to engage in honest debate by starting with the opponent's viewpoint.  The GOP plays that habit like a fiddle.

        The tragedy is that we might lose any bipartisan debate altogether, but the GOP is already hell-bent on making that a reality anyway.

        •  No that is a correct focus (none)
          What Kos is blown away by, methinks, is the revelation that "frames" are to define the OTHER side.

          Yes.  That is what is what is really tricky about the art of building a verbal frame for political purposes.

          GOP frames are more about opposing straw men in the hopes that the Dems will jump to the defense of bad, non-existent causes

          Right.  Or if not that at least to force them to use some of their limited political bandwidth to reframe things.

          it's a classic liberal pattern to try to engage in honest debate by starting with the opponent's viewpoint.  The GOP plays that habit like a fiddle.

          That is a real problem.  If you look at the way Republicans handle questions that don't fit the frame they want for a debate they just ignore them and hold up a different frame that if necessary has nothing to do with the question.   That is the only way to function in a media environment where you have only a few seconds to make a point.

        •  What the fok is this? (none)
          Really, this has gotten completely out of hand.

          I'm reading this well into the thread being established and there are no zero's or one's anywhere.

          If you do not like a comment, rate it a 2.  There are specifc guidelines for trusted users on when a zero is appropriate.

          We've got Kosmos so certain they're going to be obivated by dorks they're saying so in their comments.  How may good, demcoratic souls have been silenced because they're sure they're going to get stomped on and have their comments vanish?

          I never did like this rating system to control trolls.  I know something had to be done, but this is ridiculous.

        •  while I mostly agree... (none)
 be fair, the Democrats have done a bit of this too, most recently in the news with the "assault weapons" ban, which didn't actually ban assault rifles as you might expect, but instead banned some specific features like bayonet mounts and folding stocks that are largely irrelevant to "assaulting" (when was the last time you heard of a bayonet-related crime?).

          I will grant that the GOP seems to have done this more often, but I'm not sure that's something the Democrats should strive to follow. I'd respect the party less if it stooped to that, and probably go off and vote Nader or Badnarik or something.

      •  Check out his Rockridge Institute (none)
        To see what you are missing.

        The eight thinkers who write there are all thought-provoking and insightful. If you are particularly interested in Lakoff, check out his page at:

        Scroll below his short bio and you will find plenty of his articles, from a short tutorial on framing to his article, "Framing the Dems" from the American Prospect.

        Lakoff goes way beyond the obvious point that how one frames the discussion impacts the course of the debate. He explains how framing works, how to frame effectively, and specifically what are the dominant conservative and progressive frames in our current political debate.

        Most importantly, he shows how the Right is consciously and deliberately re-framing our national debate, while the Left largely stumbles along without thinking in those terms. Then, he presents specific bits of liberal framing that can turn the debate around.

        If Kerry studies Lakoff, he will win the debates (as measured not by how we liberals think he did, but by the extent to which he sways swing voters). If Kerry does not study Lakoff, and internalize his lessons, he will lose--because those who coach Bush and write his scripts have trained him to be little more than an empty but sharply-delineated Conservative Frame.

        "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

        by galiel on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:27:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Newness is wrong question (none)
        Its not "new" -- or even "novel" -- after all, folks like me can consciously or subconsciously come up with these sorts of things for a "democratic 'branding'" e.g.:

        Equal Opportunty.
        Economic Justice.
        Affordable Healthcare.
        Fiscal Responsibility.
        Security through co-operation.
        One America.
        One World.
        Caretakers for our children.

        It is important, though, because NO ONE IS LISTENING.  With the exception of Dean, no one really played this up in the primaries from a Democrat-Republican standpoint (not surprisingly, since Lakoff was highly regarded by Dean, with whom he consulted).

        Kerry did to a certain degree with this "I am a hero and only a hero can stand up to Bush" -- but that's not really the general election strategy that Lakoff is talking about. It was a "Bush lite" strategy that used the Daddy Party themes. (for better or worse, folks rejected -- explicitly or implicitly -- Dean's notion that "you can't beat George Bush by being 'Bush Lite'")

        If you want to see an example of it, look more to John Edwards -- who says it explicitly (there are "two worlds") but look to it better packaged in Barack Obama's convention keynote address.

        Ideas don't need to be "new" to win.  We can win with "old" ideas if they are properly executed.

        We aren't "reinventing the wheel here."  But we also can't stubbornly reject using the wheel because its not a "new" idea.

        P.S.  (note to the whole post, not really a "response") Interesting, isn't it, that Lakoff suggested a move away from "issue politics" and towards a "movement" and that is exactly what Dean's campaign was branded -- a "movement."

        •  The debate should be framed no Justice and Freedom (none)

          Justice sounds strong enough and relates to the war on terror while at the same time allows you to turn this around to fight for social Justice and or economic Justice.

          Freedom is Freedom and this is something a republican or a democrat would want. Generic terms can be manipulated to play both sides.

    •  The World is watching and waiting..... (none)
      for a better father!
    •  Lakoff's talk about framing (4.00)
      is why I keep posting (ad nauseum to some, no doubt) about referring to the "War On Al-Queda" instead of the "War On Terror". The latter is so elastic, you could use it to describe all sorts of things. Neo-cons could use it to demonize anyone (foreign or domestic) who doesn't abide by their nationalistic unilateralism, and the DLC can use it to "make the world safe for globalization" (which is itself a very abstract word).

      I just want to get the guys that got us on Sept 11th. Not the IRA, not the Chechnyans, not the people of Chiapas...

      The War on Al-Queda it is!

      •  no (none)
        the term "war" is also wrong...
        hopefully this book will get kos and others to stop saying this, except when quoting right-wingers (like john kerry :( etc.)
        •  Thanks for the link (4.00)
          Here are some of his comments:

          Q: You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" -- why?

          "There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.

          Next, "war." How many terrorists are there -- hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem."

          Q:What about the "war on drugs" or the "war on poverty"?

          "Those are metaphorical. Real wars are wars against countries, and in the "war on terror," we are attacking countries. But those countries are not the same as the terrorists. We're acting at the wrong level. Meanwhile, by using this frame, we get a commander in chief, as the Republicans keep referring to Bush -- a "war president" with "war powers," which imply that ordinary protections don't have to be observed. A "war president" has extraordinary powers. And the "war on terror," of course, never ends. There's no peace treaty with terror. It's a prescription for keeping conservatives in power indefinitely. In three words -- "war on terror" -- they've enacted vast political changes."

      •  And once we've beaten terror . . . (none)
        we'll get that bastard ennui.   I think it was Al Franken who first pointed out how silly and(as you said) elastic this whole thing is.  Terror isn't a concrete noun, how in the world do you wage war on something that doesn't even have a physical presence.  I agree, a war on Al-Queda makes much more sense, and if we'd managed to get it framed that way than maybe we could have prevented this horrible misadventure in Iraq.
    •  Testing chris at my DD (none)
      Trying to give chris's theory at my DD, on Stickiness a test please have a look.

      Lots of people see the world in Black and White. It is mostly just shades of grey.

      by Davinci on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:50:16 AM PDT

    •  So W was taught right (none)
      You said: The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore, they have to be made good. W, the rowdy son, was brought around, cured of his alcoholism and coke addiction, and shown the way. Nice. He IS a fortunate, well taught son.
      •  There is a religious as well as family angle (none)
        W, the rowdy son, was brought around, cured of his alcoholism and coke addiction, and shown the way.

        The sort of frame building that Rove has perfected for his client Bush always not only keys into a particular view of the family but also into certain American religious evangelical tendencies which are closely related but not exactly the same.  These are often coded in cleaver ways so only members of such movements can see them and but which are designed to get the other side on the wrong side of religious debates they may not know even exist.

    •  words i like for BushCheneyCo (none)
      craven, cronies, criminal, incompetent, squander, corporatist, blind, secretive, absent, corrupt, vacation, waste, image, posture, pretense, puppet, war-monger, manipulative, negligent

      words i don't like (even though appropriate):
      ignorant, political, un-American, scandalous, fearful, bully, bellicose, hawk, elite, fanatical, fascist, zealot

      America began begins with freedom from King George's empire.

      by bribri on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:04:20 AM PDT

    •  Lakoff Video (none)
      In the dKosopedia, within the Think Tanks project is a Fermentation Tank that's worth spending time with, including a long video speech of Lakoff called the Reframing Video.

      I didn't realize Don't Think of an Elephant was already available. I just checked another of Lakoff's books out of the library last Friday--Moral Politics: What Conservatives Know That Liberals Don't.  On first blush, this book looks excellent as well.  I haven't had time to read far into it though; I spent last weekend at a three day peace festival where I even got to hear a folk song about Michael Moore.

    •  War on Terra (none)
      Any Dem who repeats this phrase is playing into the hands of the GOP Frame.

      War on Terra: THIS MUST BE REFRAMED AND NOW!!!!!

      ...and for God's sakes do not listen to the DLC...I see now they are trying to worm their way out of their ill-created frame of Blair Democrats now that Blair will be pulling his troops out of Iraq...this is a best case example of HOW NOT TO FRAME.

      This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

      by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:35:28 AM PDT

    •  Dean is a huge fan of Lakoff (4.00)
      Early this year when DFA had a radio show, Lakoff was a guest and critiqued the candidates rhetoric...fantastic stuff. Lakoff was also the subject of several posts on DFA.

      Dean was the first to try and use frames and NOT to fall into the trap of the GOP frames. Hence the Confederate flag...which he was 100% right but it was the Dems who jumped down his throat. (, We are no safer, and THERE WAS NO TAX CUT) What Dean was trying to do is connect a value shared by people in the Red States to the same values as people in the Blue States.

      Obama's DNC speech picked up on Dean's frame but said it way more eloquently. Whereas, Kerry and Edwards speeches were solidly in the frames of the GOP.

      Even, Sharp-tongue's address REFRAMED the GOP's attack on Black and the Dem Party. It was brilliant because NO DEM had defended why Blacks were such stanch members of the DNC...they let Bush's comments just lay there...festering.

      Sharpton made it clear in no uncertain terms that Blacks were cognizant of their vote and why they voted for Dems...I am truly grateful that Sharpton ignored the requests from Kerry to not attack Bush (They still don't understand that standing up for what you believe in is not an attack or matter what the fuck Al From says) and set the story straight...have you noticed that the GOP has given up that line of attack since.

      Dean is an avid student of Lakoff and is getting better each day.

      Also, I think this is why Black preachers connect so well in politics both Jacksons, Sharpton, Mfume, MLK ...(I swear Obama was preaching at the DNC) is because they can connect values with their programmes...Sharpton's brilliant imagery of Ray Charles and the Star Spangle Banner was pure genius, Obama's use of United States framed the american people as one.

      Dean's speech was not memorable because it was slashed and burned by the Kerry people...but he still got a longer standing ovation than Clinton.

      Carter's STOOD UP and was righteously outraged at the predicament Bush has placed this great nation.

      Lieberman: blah, blah war on terra, blah, blah

      Edwards: blah, blah war on terra, blah, blah

      Kerry: blah, blah war on terra, blah, blah

      Gephardt: blah, blah war on terra, blah, blah

      Here are some of Lakoff's analysis of the GOP speeches.

      This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

      by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 02:05:36 AM PDT

      •  Phillips and Jamison on NOW (none)
        If you didn't already see it, make a note to read the transcript (sometimes they post a video link) later this week.

        They think things changed this week.  

        Great analysis on why positive action was needed to raise bush's negatives and lower his positives - that if K/E don't do it, who will - and that they got caught relying on the daily bad news (and there was alot of it) to push bush down.

      •  Kucinich tried to reframe WMDs (none)
        During his speech at the DNC convention, Kucinich artfully used the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" to describe some of the ruinous socio-economic conditions in the U.S.:

        "We have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  I was mayor of Cleveland and I could tell you that I've seen weapons of mass destruction in our cities. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction, homelessness, a weapon of mass destruction,racism, a weapon of mass destruction, fear, a weapon of mass destruction.

        We must disarm these weapons."

      •  Dean was learning framing in his own way, (none)
        but one of the key qualities for playing frames is not loosing your own clear mind under any circumstances ;-]

        Another term closely related to framing is context . Largely, the American discussion culture is context-pure (just answer yes or no, etc). But conservatives managed to see the importance of the context, and they learned to create it anywhere, at any speed. The problem for democrats is that they just follow the rules of conservatives (even in the framing idea perhaps), but they seem to be unable to invent their own game. The particular Kerry problem is the big disparity between the complicated context in his mind and absence of suitable context for public communication.

    •  reservations (none)
      This is somewhat of an echo of things said earlier - what I'm hoping is that people who have studied this more closely can tell me if I'm missing a point here.

      Lakoff is an incredibly smart guy, and the techniques make sense. But I hear the word "nurturant" and my immediate reaction is "Uh oh, here come the crystals and the sharing - I'll be outside having a smoke, let me know when you're done"...

      I don't want to be punished for being a "bad child" and I don't want to be forced to be a "good child" either. Maybe the motivations are different but the results often are hard to distinguish.

      Isn't there a metaphor that doesn't end up making the State our parents? I already have parents, thanks. I'm not the child of the government. I'd much rather think of it as my attorney or something like that. (I think Clinton tapped into this well, with his emphasis on "Every day I wake up and work as hard as I can for you" - he really stressed the idea that we had hired him, as opposed to certain unnamed dry drunks who seem to believe that they were crowned King of the World...)

      •  perhaps (none)
        /Isn't there a metaphor that doesn't end up making the State our parents? I already have parents, thanks. I'm not the child of the government. I'd much rather think of it as my attorney or something like that.

        you should read the book first...

        This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

        by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 02:22:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Metaphors (none)

          Every 4 years we get to hire our manager.

          George Bush is a toxic, abusive boss.

          Aren't we lucky that we get a chance to hand him his walking papers.

          The line between strict father and abusive father is damn fine.  And it is not that hard to push George over, since he is a sadistic little rat.  In fact, I still am waiting for anyone to find an instance of George being compassionate on anything to anybody in real life.  He never even saved the Bush hamster...Did he explode it with a cherry bomb or flush it down the toilet?

          (and btw, a number of the fundies actually advocate abusive parenting, including James Dobson)

          I would like to see us frame the Republicans as child beaters, deadbeat dads, and pedophile parents if we have to stick with this family metaphor.

        •  gosh, thanks (none)
          you should read the book first...

          Don't go out of your way or anything. Here, try answering Digby instead:

          I've read his work and have been very influenced by it. He is completely correct, in my view, about the immense power of framing issues with language and image and his ideas about candidates as "identities" is right on the money.

          If I have a beef with Lakoff it's that the one frame he's most known for --- the Republican "strict father" and the Democrat "nurturing parent" --- is one of the more unfortunate metaphors for the progressive cause that I can imagine.

      •  I think I agree (none)
        although my problem isn't with the concept of the welfare state, its the depiction of it as a system only for those who are struggling. I remember as a teenager watching Mario Cuomo's speech on "The Other America" at the convention in 1984, and thinking what a passionate speech it was, and seemed to completely miss the point. Yes, social programs first came about to rescue people from the depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, and while ending starvation and preventable sickness will always be their most important goal, they have really expanded beyond that. Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae, the GI Bill, transit funds, community development, agricultural subsidies, the SBA, and a wide range of tax credits are all designed, not for the indigent, but for society universally. It's the recognition that we don't live in a 19th century agricultural-based society any more, that daily life is much more interdependant, and that money that enables one part of the system tends to benefit another part, whether it is received on the individual level for school or housing, or by a region for local infrastructure improvements.

        The welfare state is put to work on behalf of everyone, perhaps the middle class especially. I think the Dems mis-framed it in the '80s and paid price. Cuomos's speech might work once or twice, but eventually people will likely feel resentful that, instead of someone speaking to their issues, they are constantly being told to think soley of others, with the occasional implication that their plight is somehow your fault.

        Alright, I'm getting a little verbose. Must be time for bed.

    •  Hmmm... families? (none)
      I will have to read this book, indeed.  Chait's diss of Lakoff was just flat-out stupid - shorter version of Chait is, Lakoff is a linguist, therefore he is not qualified to do political analysis.  I find this sort of knee-jerk reaction ridiculous on its face.

      Nevertheless, I have a real serious problem with the entire frame of the relationship between citizens and the government in terms of the family.  It jumps completely over any possibility of a separate PUBLIC space and puts the state right into the heart of your private life, and I don't like the implications of that.  It strikes me as a dangerous throwback to the worst of 19th & early 20th century European nationalism..

      The US government is not my parents and it's not like them and I don't think it ought to be, either.  Perhaps the problem is that the contemporary GOP seems bound and determined to erase boundaries by having the government involved in all sorts of private matters (abortion rights, religion, gay marriage.. hell, family values in general) and so Lakoff has to resort to this family model in order to try and counteract it.  I don't think this is a very effective response - all of the values he does mention are essential for the function of community and society, and I think that should be sufficient without dragging private family life into the equation.

      We've got the American Jesus, he helped build the president's estate.

      by daria g on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:11:22 AM PDT

      •  Uh... (none)
        It is meant figuratively not literally.

        This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

        by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:33:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  not having read the book (none)
        I would say the decision within a family to define, make and enforce rules and limits among the members of the family and to its neighbors creates the rules for the public space by default.

        Public space and family space and individual space are defined by members of the family, as well as the acceptable rules how to behave within each of them. By definining one space you have defined the other.

        If you think "the government" is in a public space that is separated from the space a family defines for itself, I think you might be mistaken.

        So, I guess I don't understand your argument. Essential functions of community and society are defined and grow out (and should definitely be developed) out of essential functions necessary for a family life to function. I don't see a separation between the two.

        May be you could define more clearly what you mean?

        For free speech, against free lies.

        by mimi on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:15:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Missed Opportunity (none)
        As long as we let them frame the debate, Dems will continue to lose ground. A perfect opportunity was the Cokie Roberts' profile of Edwards on NPR this morning. Out comes the "trial lawyer" meme, of course. She sweetly points out that DeLay called them "parasites" on the floor of the house last week.

        Edwards launches into "I'm proud of the work I've done for the kind of good people I grew up with in North Carolina, blah blah blah."

        HE SHOULD REFRAME TRIAL LAWYERS AND TORT REFORM! Right now all people are hearing is the positive side of tort reform - elimination of frivolous lawsuits. And Edwards played THEIR game by saying "we'll eliminate frivolous lawsuits by having a committee of doctors certify before it goes to trial" or some such. More "Me Too" politics.

        NO!!!!!!! He needs to talk about the callous and profit-driven corporations who ruin the lives of ordinary, hardworking people and then will not take RESPONSIBILITY. People need to hear examples like the "Jacuzzi case" which literally made me ill when I read it in his book. He could say that trial lawyers have the guts to take on evildoers, make them do the right thing, and even punish them for being bad, which are all things "daddies" do.

        With all the corporate scandals, the time is right. Maybe he could also talk about how we have to be careful with tort reform because it means GOVERNMENT stepping in to take power away from PEOPLE in order to help BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES, which despite their WHINING make VERY healthy profits every year.

        Whichever argument is most effective should be made, sharpened, and repeated over and over.

        Great post, Kos. This is how we take back the power and stop feeling like victims.


    •  As a parent (4.00)
      Its funny that this corresponds very closely to my actual experience raising kids. I have a conservative neighbor who actually wouldn't let her kid be in my house when an adult wasn't home for fear of what my liberal approach to childrearing had created in terms of an environment. The boy was kept strictly controlled at all times. Today he's the only one in my son's crowd with a drug problem, no license due to multiple DUIS and not going to college.

      My kids, on the other hand, brought up very  liberally are actually doing all kinds of "conservative" things - though not politically, thank God. One studies classical piano & percussion, one is a big time Girl Scout/Honor Society/ Varsity volleyball team captain, the last one is a big guy who actually plays football (!) and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.  Much as I'd like to take the credit, it has always kind of mystified me how they turnned out SO good, especially as I'm the stereotypical single mom who can't ever be home. This book kind of answers questions for me, and reinforces that my instincts in these matters were indeed correct

      Politically, it's hopeful as well. The thing that most dismays me about Conservatives is the surety of their rigid thinking. There will NEVER be alternative energy sources. You must NEVER trust international cooperation. The only alternative to corporate capitalism is chaos, etc. etc.

      I know in my gut they are wrong, just as I knew the best way to raise kids in my gut. I'm going to read this book.

      •  Haven't you noticed that (4.00)
        Democratic First Wives have been terric mothers as opposed to Republican mothers.

        Look at the children:

        Compare Chelsea to the Bush Twins

        Amy Carter compared to the Reagan Girl (can't remember her name...she wrote a book about Nancy.

        Jackie Kennedy was a faboulous mother compared to Barbara "Mommie Dearest" Bush who was an absolutly horrendous mother...Lynne Cheney (yikes) give me a break she is about as warm and comforting as Anne Coulter.

        This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

        by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:26:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If I were arguing with a fundie Republican (none)
          ...I might be tempted to argue that Cheney's daughter reeled into "immoral" lesbianism as a result of bad Cheney parenting.  I wouldn't believe that, but the Republican would be influenced.

          Of course that's such a cheap homophobic shot that even politically incorrect me gets hesitant. Even so, it feels so good to make Republican heads spin by bringing their prejudices to logical conclusions:

          "How can you look at all those urban welfare mothers having one illegitimate child after another, and tell me you don't believe in abortion?"

          AP: Bush Intelligence Links Kevin Bacon to Al Qaida!

          by AdmiralNaismith on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 08:36:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If we were to frame this discussion (none)
        on modeling the Democratic "parenting" vs. Republican "parenting"

        the Democratic parent is authorative vs. authoritarian.

        Or put it in terms that people can grasp:

        The Democratic Daddy is Atticus Finch.  

        The Republican Daddy is Murdstone (in David Copperfield)

        Demo Daddy raises a responsible child by giving him or her a safe arena to prepare for freedom. We provide an atmosphere of trust, allow our kids to try and fail (for the greatest lessons come from failure) and accept that they will be autonomous people who make the right decisions, because they come from a culture which encourages independence and constant questioning.  They don't grow up confused, but rather people who actually have internal core values, rather than or ruled by external ones.

        Republican Daddys....don't

        •  Great!!! (4.00)
          they come from a culture which encourages independence and constant questioning.

          Which is why I can not understand for the life of me why all of these Dems are confused that Democratic Voters actually ASK QUESTIONS

          The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

          Change comes from Democrats being unreasonable...being unwilling to accept segregation, unreasonable to submit to archaic abortions laws, unafraid to challenge economic regulations and create a national economic system in the image of it own people.

          So those who keep saying to shut up sound like Republicans to me...I have even heard people say not to question Kerry...quelle shite!

          This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

          by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:35:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Questioning is fine...within the family (none)
            but when the family is under attack, you circle the wagons.

            In other words, once a decision has been made and you are facing people who share none of your values, and there is an election six weeks away...

            You don't second guess your family in public. You learn to discipline yourself, and think towards long term goals.

            •  Beg to disagree (none)
              we are not on CNN or MSGOP this is just a blog.

              However, you are preaching to the wrong group...this is something that the Democratic Leadership needs to practice.

              Wasn't it Gephardt who threatened the UNIONS in Missouri by drafting a letter signed by his DEMOCRATIC colleagues to the State GOP renouncing their support for collective bargaining for union members employed by the state.

              And this man wanted to be a Democratic President...frightening.

              Why did he run to the GOP for aid in hurting  the Unions (yunno those staunch members of the Democratic Party)...because they were going to go to Iowa and canvass for Dean.

              This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

              by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:02:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If one wants to keep alive past resentments (none)
                against a brother or sister, there are plenty of venues to do that.

                However, I am a Dean supporter, and I am following the example of Howard Dean.

                And I refuse to criticize fellow Democrats in any public venue.

                •  Two issues here (none)
                  • Telling people to shut up and not question

                  • Resentment

                  Frankly, I resent being told to shut up and not question. This has nothing to do with Dean.

                  I was pointing out that if the Dem leadership really wanted unquestioning loyalty then they should practice what they preach. however, time and time again we see the leadership breaking the very same rules they chastise the rank in file for.

                  It seems rather silly for all the underlings to take a vow of silence when those at the top flame away.

                  This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

                  by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:18:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Just a minute. (none)
                    >Frankly, I resent being told to shut up and not question.

                    First of all, nobody is telling you to do anything.

                    I was describing behavior I will not indulge in.  

                    After the election, I will have plenty to say.  But most of all, I will be doing stuff which makes sure my values are part of institutional Democratic policy.

                    It is a matter of timing, and discretion.  Because this election isn't about me, it about the future of this country.

            •  Words of wisdom from Don Corleone (none)
              "Never let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking."

              "Folly is wont to have more followers and comrades than discretion." -Cervantes-

              by Don Quixote on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:12:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Baumrind's typology of parenting (4.00)
        What Lakoff is saying is just a restatement of Diana Baumrind's typology of parenting. Baumrind posits that there are four types of parent: the authoritative parent, who is both demanding and responsive; the authoritarian parent, who is demanding but not responsive; the permissive parent, who is responsive but not demanding; and the disengaged parent, who is neither responsive nor demanding.

        In Lakoff's scheme, the Democrats are the authoritative parents, and the Republicans are the authoritarian ones. (One might extend the analogy and imagine that Libertarians are the disengaged parents, since the idea of the state as parent offends them.)

        According to research, children of authoritative parents internalize sound values, do better in school, are more self-confident and resilient, and engage in more prosocial behavior. Children of authoritarian parents develop a "morality is what you do when someone's watching" attitude, get average grades, have lower self-confidence and resilience, and are more likely to be victims of bullying, perpetrators of it, or both. (Children of disengaged parents get the lowest grades, engage in the least pro-social behavior and are most likely to develop drug problems.)

        Is anyone surprised by all this?

        •  As a parent (none)
          I consciously used Diana Baumrind's model in raising my son....and it WORKED!  

          I think a lot of parents in my generation (the one raised on Spock) were engaged in actively living a humane, yet effective child rearing philosophy which by word and action and example, rather than indoctrination modeled behavior which lead to my kid turning out to be a person I would want to know, even if he wasn't my kid.

          I see no reason such thinking can't be applied to larger convass.

        •  I'd say that's exactly right (none)
          The authoritative vs. authoritarian describes exactly what I've observed.

          In a political sense, one thing I've noticed is when I visit a conservative board, the first thing I must do is establish my own patriotism. It seems like a contradiction to them that liberalism and patriotism can be partners. To them, patriotism is a blind faith thing, a badge of honor, completely without intellectual reflection. Whereas for me it's an actual personal emotion, something that grew from my study of American history, personal respect and admiration for the philosophical roots of the Constitution and the courage and political genius of the founding fathers. They are very suspicious of my claim that I am motivated against this administration by a desire not to see these basic principles abused and undermined. I don't get the impression that this line of thinking has ever been part of what they consider patriotism.

          It does indeed remind me of what differentiates my parenting instincts. I set very high expectations for schoolwork and for them behaving in a principled manner, but I do it out of an emotional core of believing in what's good in them. I approach patriotism the same way. My neighbor (who is incidentally quite dumfounded by my Kerry signs) had the same expectations for her kids, but seemed to always expect them to screw up and was vigilantly suspicious of them. She also seems not to know what to make of my broken-home, non church going kids doing so well in school, sports and community activism. It just doesn't fit for her, but nothing has shaken her core beliefs. Not even her kid getting local headlines for his fuckups.

        •  Baumrind in Moral Politics (none)
          In the final section of Moral Politics (which explains why he is a liberal -- the rest of the book attempts to be descriptive and non-judgemental), Lakoff discusses the authoritarian versus authoritative models of parenting.

          He chose to use "nurturant" and "strict father" because the terms are more neutral.

          P.S.: He also believes libertarians are a variant of the strict father model.

          BushOut.TV - 2004 campaign ad news and views ||

          by LFinMN on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:05:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But at least one principled Libertarian (none)
            said that it is the duty of every real conservative to oppose Bush.  See Doug Bandow's article in Salon.

            Why conservatives must not vote for Bush

            Where do people like that fit in Lakoff's classification?  I'm all for framing, and I think that trial lawyers do need to be reframed, but I'm not sure that public protection attorneys doesn't sound sort of school marmy and gross.

            Lakoff's voice annoys me.  He may be brilliant, but he often makes me want to vomit.

            •  You Need To Read Moral Politics (none)
              These comments seem to come from a commitment ignorance.  You really need to read Lakoff in order to make intelligent criticism.

              (1) I haven't read the piece by Banodw, but Lakoff does a very good job of explaining libertarians in Moral Politics.  In fact, it's the best explanation of libertarianism I've ever seen.  But it depends on a number of concepts from cognitive science that you've got to understand in order to appreciate his argument.

              (2) Sure "public protection lawyer" sounds a bit clunky, but Lakoff isn't trying to fine-tune political speech here.  He's trying to communicate a more fundamental point about conceptual framing and where it should be going.  Don't like the phrase? Fine! Come up with a better one that captures the same idea.

              Your personalized tone here makes me think that something deeper is going on which you aren't copping to.

              The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

              by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:17:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm just admitting (none)
                that I don't like Lakoff on a bunch of levels, but he may be very smart and therefore I need to be willing to listen to him.

                Personally, I do not want the Government to be either a strict father/ parent or a nurturing parent.

                I do not want to be treated as a child by my government.    Couldn't we have a different worldview from either of these?  I find the whole thing kind of infantilizing.

            •  conservatarians (none)
              But also note the rise of the "conservatarian", people like Glen Reynolds who formerly were "principled libertarians" but are now quite obviously mainstream conservatives.

              So it can go either way.

              BushOut.TV - 2004 campaign ad news and views ||

              by LFinMN on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:35:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Lakoff Discusses This In Moral Politics (none)
          In Moral Politics, Lakoff devotes the last part of the book to discussing why liberalism is better-founded than consevatism, and Baumrind is one of the main people whose work he cites. And he says essentially the same thing that you have.

          Don't Think of An Elephant doesn't get into this, it's more a hands-on type of book. But Moral Politics is a more meticuloous laying out of the underlying theory.  

          The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

          by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:49:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Great Post! (none)
      I'm looking forward to more of your review of Lakoff. I've long been interested in the different mindsets of liberals and conservatives. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but the conservative mindset drives me nuts and it really has nothing to do with politics either. Using the definitions given by Lakoff above, I think it's easy to spot a conservative without ever discussing politics.

      The obvservation of the differences between liberal and conservative weblogs was interesting as well.

      A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy. --Benjamin Disraeli

      by rogun on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:55:56 AM PDT

    •  FEAR CHENEY - BUSH BAD (none)

      Fear Cheney
      W worry wicked wasteful wrong
      Bush bad

      Fear Cheney
      W worry wicked wasteful wrong
      Bush bad

      Fear Cheney
      W worry wicked wasteful wrong
      Bush bad

      Fear Cheney
      W worry wicked wasteful wrong
      Bush bad

      Fear Cheney
      W worry wicked wasteful wrong
      Bush bad

      It is an American value to care for each other.
      Vote Kerry/Edwards on November 2nd, to bring our soldiers home safely.

      by Daemmern on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:49:17 AM PDT

    •  in a nutshell (none)
      While Democrats do everything they can to ensure the happiness and safety of all children, Republicans do everything they can to ensure the happiness and safety of their own children.
    •  the father metaphor is salient (none)
      and gets damnably positive response in less educated constituencies around the world.

      Oh father, who art our leader, hallowed be thy blame.

      Why won't JK's camp listen to Lackoff's brilliant insight and turn the W into 'weak' as he suggests so convincingly? 'Wrong' implies that the people who voted for him were wrong (they might have been, but no one wants to hear that).

      That Danny Goldberg "Youth Hostile" article also points to a possible breakthrough - how about getting eminem to write a easy and clever little rap for our JK?

    •  Sierra Magazine (none)
      Sierra Magazine had an interview with Lakoff a couple months ago. Very inciteful, and shorter than Kos's post. It was enlightening  to get the sense of the degree the right has captured the words used in this debate.

      Recently read Garrison Keilor's book "Homegrown Democrat." Great for Minnesotans, and liberals in general. A good line in response to Tucker Carlson- the left has think tanks, we call then colleges.

    •  At Its Core, A Gender War (4.00)
      It's no surprise to feminists that the battle is over whether Mommy or Daddy should win.  The deep misogyny in the culture makes it politically palatable to win by running against the female.  That's why gender reprogramming is not just a cultural option for the left, but essential to undoing the deeply irrational hold that Daddy-worship maintains over many.

      It's also clear that all fundamentalists - Bush or the Taliban - have much in common with their manic masculinity.

      The praise for the book is fine - but we must understand the deep gender fault lines that make this polarization possible.

      •  Lakoff (none)
        I'm glad that the D's have wised up and now have George Lakoff working in the semantics department.  But let's remember that framing the issues more effectively is a lot easier when you have the mainstream media in your pocket.  The R's not only have well-funded think tanks to craft their message, they have our major media organizations doing their bidding as well.  Their transparently phony "frames" would fail miserably if our media was asking the tough questions.  We've got to create new media to challenge the Right.
        •  Good point (none)
          but I think that Lakoff also argues that once understand how framing works you are more quick to catch on when one is being  used against you.

          Just like Kos just said he understands the Arnold "Girlie Men" quote in is real context.

          Once you can SEE the frame it is so much easier to tear it many here fell for the "War on Terra" frame or the NCLB, the Healthy Forest and Clear Skies initiative ....these are all frames.

          And frankly we have been framed into believing this bullshit.

          This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

          by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:32:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You might want to read Lakoff first (3.50)
        Or at least this article by him, "Framing the Dems" (it's a .pdf file of his article in American Prospect from a couple months ago):

        Contrary to your attempt to simplistically pit men against women, and to paint the world in stark Darkness (male) vs. Light (female), Lakoff's analogy is to Strict Father mentality on the Right vs. Nurturant Parents (note the inclusive plural) on the Left.

        Of course, his argument is more complex than that, and a good, short, understandable introduction to the concept of political framing is his "tutorial", "Simple Framing":

        Lakoff's whole point is that language is a powerful tool that literally shapes our thoughts.

        Your binary framing, whether intentional or not, is hostile and antagonizes and excludes those of us who are as opposed to the aggressive, dominating, constipated politics of our patriachial culture as you are, but who happen to be male.

        "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

        by galiel on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:11:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Slow Down (none)
          My point is that the binary framing is only possible in a culture where the genders have been segregatd and trivialized.  Women have certainly suffered more trivializing (and hostility), but men have also suffered (in my opinion) from the caricatures that the patriarchal culture imposes.  No one is excluded here.  While I'm glad to see your agreement with the constriction of gender roles, such an understanding has generally been the province of feminist discourse and not always welcome in progressive circles.  To the extent that Lakoff helps others to see gender derangement as an essential precursor to our political malfunction - that's great.  I just wish that some of that thinking would have been credited when it began with the women's movement over 30 years ago.  Much time has been lost.
      •  YES, Athena... (none)
        you nailed it. Now it all makes sense. The fact that more men vote Rethug than Dem. Their love of the macho stances of Bush and The Governator. The way they SNEER at Dems as weak, stupid, etc.

        Also this was the missing piece in my diagnosis. Recently, someone posted the characteristics of fascism and the one thing I couldn't easily check off for this regime is that they're very male dominated. Bush has Condi, right?

        But Condi brings absolutely nothing to the table in terms of the feminine side. She's just a beard and as often as not, their "fall guy."

        Blech - yet another reason to despise them. (Seems to be a bottomless well.)

        P.S. Makes me appreciate these ENLIGHTENED men even more.

        •  Actually Condi Is More Complex Than This (none)
          It's getting off topic from Lakoff, but I think it's important to point out.  

          Condi Rice is, at bottom, a mammy figure. Bush is the spoiled master's son. She comforts him, and explains the world to him in a non-threatening way. His pathetic incompetance requires such a figure close by his side (much like Cheney testify with him before the 9/11 Commission). All this works reasonably well in a world where you don't need a President who knows anything about foreign policy.  Before 9/11, most people apparently thought that's where we lived.

          But Condi is in no way, shape or form a real National Security Advisory.  She does none of the heavy bureuacratic oversight which the post is supposed to entail. She is an affirmative aciton hire--not in the real sense of affirmative action, but precisely in the warped, hiring-of-the-unqulified sense of the Rethug's imagination.

          The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

          by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:41:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Language (none)
      is so powerful.  If the lemming-like press adopts the language your side is promoting then you have succeeded in framing the argument.  Death tax is a great example.  I can almost hear George Carlin saying, "Stupid governments try to tax dead people - smart governments tax the heirs."

      Did ya think I fell off a turnip truck, Jerry?

      by dpc on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:20:20 AM PDT

    •  Ok, so (none)
      I'm a bit pressed for time in the battleground, so a  bit of help would be appreciated.  I'm still getting  the 'what about the flip flop issue?' stuff from the undecideds I talk to.  How can I frame a response using this model into the sound bite that people will take home with them?

      ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

      by NevDem on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:33:59 AM PDT

    •  Welcome to the George Lakoff Fan Club (none)

      It tickles me no end to see you excited about George Lakoff's take on political language. Lakoff is an amazingly provocative thinker and a really scary writer for conservatives who believe in the absolute rightness of their categories. You will find it amazingly worthwhile to look at his other work, especially Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, where he begins his assault on classical logic as a model for thought, and Philosophy in the Flesh, which he co-authored with Mark Johnson, where he develops the notion that (1) we think in metaphors and (2) metaphors are grounded in the shape and movements of the human body.

      John McCreery "We have nothing to fear but fear of losing."

      by John McCreery on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:39:34 AM PDT

    •  YES!!!! Lakoff Da Man!!!! n/t (none)

      "The problems of today will not be solved by the same thinking that produced the problems in the first place" - Albert Einstein

      by galiel on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 05:57:11 AM PDT

    •  listen here (none)
      Here's an audio link to a short interview Lakoff gave to NPR last winter.
      It's less than eight minutes long.

      * "I still believe in a place called Hope." --Bill Clinton

      by diversecity215 on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:07:29 AM PDT

    •  I'm sick of this conservative bashing (none)
      and it's doesn't help here. My husband was raised by conervative parents, but they were traditional conservatives, they believed in accepting personal responsibility, in fiscal responsibility, environmental responsibility, and yes, they believed in God.

      the new mold of conservatism, "compassionant conservatism," is something else altogether. One of the goals has got to be differentiating it from traditional conservatism with brands such as "Credit  card Republicans" or "Regressive Republicans."

      It's important to mark the difference between traditional values, which included good stuff like the separation between church and state and personal privacy, from wingnutism; it empowers all the conservatives disgusted with what's going on the opportunity to jump from W's sinking ship.

      His inability to take responsibility for his mistakes, his poor environmental performance, his invasion of personal privacy through the Patriot Act, his irresponsible push to amend the constitution to restrict freedom are all strong and potent reasons to vote against him if you're a conservative.

      We've just got to find powerful language that shows he's not a conservative, he's a Regressive Republican.

    •  Duh (none)
      Not a comment on Kos' excellent post but on the myopia of the Democrats for the last 25 years. This crap has been going on at least since St. Reagan started referring to senior citizens and labor unions as "special interests." And the spineless Dems just sit there and let it happen.

      Any student of English or communications knows that the side that gets to frame reality has a huge advantage. Couple that with the Republican strategy of "working the refs"--i.e., ceaseless bullying of a now-compliant media--and there's one huge reason that the Dems are perpetually in trouble.

      Look forward to more posts on this critical topic.

      "9/11 was not a triumph of the human spirit. It was a fuck-up by a guy on vacation." -- Bill Maher

      by bramish on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:19:15 AM PDT

    •  Chiatt's core assumptions are false... (none)
      He said, "Even if true, this wouldn't mean mirroring that strategy would work for Democrats; the GOP has a larger base."

      I guess that is why a major GOP strategy this election (and last) is the repression of turn-out.

    •  Speaking of community (none)
      Our neighborhood, where Bush signs are the norm, has an HOA. Of about 300 families, about 20-30 are active and involved. Most can't even bother to show up. And it only dawned on me, after yesterday's picnic, what the correlation was. Many of the houses with the Bush signs are the houses of people who couldn't give a darn about their neighbors. They won't even wave. Of course these people don't volunteer, but they can't even just show up to meet their neighbors. It's been rough, living in Bush country.
    •  "Nurturing Parent" Catholics (none)
      I'm happy to see Lakoff reaching a wider audience these days, and to see more Democrats taking the idea of "framing" seriously.

      Since much has been made by conservatives of John Kerry's somehow "lapsed" Catholicism, I wrote a new post highlighting Matt Zemek's explanation of the difference between "strict father" and "nurturing parent" Catholics.

    •  There's not enough to go around (none)
       I think that is the basic premise everything comes from. How you are going to protect yourself and keep what you have, tends to divide along two lines.

      1. I've got mine, and you are responsible for getting  yours. If I give you some of mine, I will have less."

      2. I've got mine, and if I help you get yours, it's in my best interest.I will have more.

      I think that's the Democratic Party's biggest failing. They are unable to frame the debate so that fairness, opportunity, protection of the environment, healthcare for all, etc are seen as being in the best interest of the individual who thinks he has these things, already.

      Increasing prosperity and security for ALL, means that the individual is spending less energy and resources, defending what he thinks he has, because MORE people are "WITH" him than "AGAINST" him.

    •  Hook, line and sinker (4.00)
      One of the central reasons behind the Kerry nomination and the ABB mindset is Democrats are unwitting participants in the Republican frame. It's automatic.

      Instead of establishing our own frame we have Kerry/Edwards, "A Stronger America." Kerry as the war hero, etc, etc. This is all a feeble attempt by Democrats to compete within the Republican frame of security, strength and a pro-military America.

      There was this guy named Howard Dean that tried to re-frame the Democratic Party message but he had his ass handed to him by Democratic voters in the primary. And they did it, in part, because they bought into the GOP narrative.

      Perhaps this is why a Kerry victory (at least for me) will be so shallow. He had to win by reaffirming the Republican frame.

      "Somehow 'we told you so' just doesn't say it"

      by Rp on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:17:33 AM PDT

      •  You have the power (none)
        You have the power for freedom, opportunity, prosperity, fairness, two-way communication, community-building, service to the community, and cooperation in a community.

        Nope. Democrats thought about it and decided we better be strong on defense (like the Republicans). Pathetic.

        "Somehow 'we told you so' just doesn't say it"

        by Rp on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:23:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes (4.00)
        they did it, in part, because they bought into the GOP narrative. Sold to them by the Democratic Leadership.

        I mean if Clinton was going around saying that Dean had forfeited his right to being the president because he signed the Civil Unions bill in Vertmont...what the hell kind of loser mentality is this? Weak and always the victim.

        The whole concept of ABB is a loser mentality...

        Electablity is a loser mentality - it like saying here swallow this cod liver oil because it is suppose to be good for you.

        This is why Rove didn't want to run against Dean in the first place. Dean/Obama 2008/12

        by Genf on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 08:10:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Glad You're Blown Away (none)
      But a lot of us figured out the importance of political rhetoric and particularly framing a long, long time ago. It's an indication of how serious the problem of political discourse is for Democrats that you find yourself "blown away" by Lakoff.

      As for the Judgemental Dad/Forgiving Mommy dichotomy Lakoff proposes... Well, suffice it to say that Lakoff's language illustrates the problem he points to perfectly.

      And we damn well better come up with better language to frame liberalism. First, because the mommy frame does not -repeat, does not- in any way, shape, or form describe liberalism with accuracy (I'll leave the judging daddy accuracy to others).

      Second, because, as a practical matter - ie winning elections - framing liberals as nice mommies is just about the stupidest fucking idea I've heard.

      •  This is not what Lakoff says (4.00)
        As for the Judgemental Dad/Forgiving Mommy dichotomy Lakoff proposes... Well, suffice it to say that Lakoff's language illustrates the problem he points to perfectly.

        That is not what Lakoff says.

        He uses the terms Strict Father and Nurturant Parent diliberately.

        Strict Father is gender-based because conservatives believe in gender heirarchy. God -> Man -> Woman -> Children -> Animals

        Nurturant Parent is gender-neutral because nuturance is not a female-specific attribute. Liberals believe in egalitarianism.

        In fact, these terms are designed to "reframe" the Mommy party/Daddy party trope you used. Don't use it, because it benefits Republicans. Unless you like being a part of the emasculated party.

        BushOut.TV - 2004 campaign ad news and views ||

        by LFinMN on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:14:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Presisely! (none)
          The consistent misreading of Lakoff by many on this thread is indicative of a real problem for Democrats.  And LFinMN understands this perfectly.

          Yes, a lot of what Lakoff says is obvious and isn't very new.  But the really crucial stuff that Lakoff says is only obvious in the aha! sense--once you see it, you wonder why you never realized it before.  And what's really important is the way that Lakoff connects the obvious stuff with the aha! stuff.

          The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

          by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:06:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That Is Exactly What Lakoff Says (none)
          "Nurturant parent" is like "vertically challenged." It's a politically correct wuss-phrase for when you want to say "mommy." Let's not kid ourselves.  It is a terrible, terrible idea to "metaphorize" the differences between libs and cons this way.

          And it doesn't have the virtue of even being close to accurate. Liberals aren't cows, for crissakes. Liberalism isn't about offering teats to blind, hungry child/citizens.

          The nail in the coffin for this metaphor: the fact that it is so easily and maliciously reframed as mommy party/daddy party by liberals themselves is exactly the point I'm trying to make. Imagine the havoc that someone who's not sympathetic to liberalism will do.

          Give it up. The party's not emasculated. Lakoff's frame is.

          (His emphasis on the importance of rhetoric is quite sound, however.)

          •  Sadly, No! (none)
            (1) Re "Nurturant Parent"

            Lakoff did not make this stuff up out of thin air.  He did research.  There is a whole literature of childrearing that he refers to in Moral Politics, and it is all gender-neutral.  

            So if you've got a problem with the "nurturant parent" frame, don't argue with Lakoff.  Go argue with the folks like Diana Baumrind. Go argue with Doctor Spock.

            You want a better name for it? Fine.  Think one up and present it.  But it better be at least as accurate.

            (2) What it Means

            "And it doesn't have the virtue of even being close to accurate. Liberals aren't cows, for crissakes. Liberalism isn't about offering teats to blind, hungry child/citizens."

            That's not what Lakoff says, either. This is just a Freeper-style straw-man argument.  Lakoff says nothing at all about cows. Nor do Spock or Baumrind.  Maybe you think of cows when you hear the word "nurturant," but that has nothing to do with Lakoff's argument.

            What Lakoff is up to is explaining why a wide diversity of different positions all qualify as liberal. If you can't even understand what his intellectual project is, you sure as hell can't offer a sensible critique.

            (3) Making fun

            It is a given that the crypto-fascist right can and will make fun of anything liberals say about anything.  Zipping our mouths because of what Oxycon Rush might say is the most emasculating notion in this entire comment section.  

            We should only be concerned about whether these ideas are sound or not. The sounder they are, the more we can expect them to be attacked.

            Remember, Lakoff's terms "Strict Father" and "Nurturant Parent" we not coined to be campaign slogans.  They were coined to be accurate descriptors.  They are analytic terms, not rhetorical devices. Their purpose is to help us understand how to craft rhetoric. They are models, or at best machine tools, as opposed to sports cars. You think "Nurturant Parent" makes a lousy sports car. Well, you're 100% correct. Except, it's not a sports car!

            The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

            by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:13:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There's a difference ... (none)
            ... between "core" metaphors and the language of politics.

            When Lakoff presents his arguments to conservatives, they generally agree with him when he argues that their core metaphor is one of "strict fathers."

            But GWB doesn't go around talking about strict fathers. He uses other language that effectively ignites that frame in people's minds.

            Lakoff's point is NOT that liberals should start talking about "nurturance." It's that we should use language that ignites that frame in people's minds (and that most people have it somewhere deep down, even if they don't use it often in reasoning about politics).

    •  Bush is a bully and a con artist (none)
      and a drunk (dry or not) and he's brutal and violent.

      Besides which he's got pals who act like they worship his every utterance, and will happily crush any opposition, stopping at nothing.

      All right, how do you deal with THAT?

      "Framing" is not the answer, not now.

      Intervention is more like it.


      PS: though Lakoff is brilliant, he needs to sync up with what's going on now...

    •  Ignoring the center.... (none)
      Chait describes Lakoff's approach as "ignoring the center", which, as one of the center, I think is accurate.

      I first heard about Lakoff at the forum where his ideas have been discussed for several months.  Link:

      The idea of countering the blatant manipulation of the GOP with equally blatant manipulation from the DNC does not appeal to me.  

      Maybe it's the strong rationalist in me but I would rather promote honest discussions of the issues and the worldviews of all sides rather than encouraging simple-mind "frames" and increasing the revenues of PR and marketing firms.  

      Frames are what make Orwellian tactics possible.  Why can't we instead find some way of forcing the candidates to treat voters with courtesy, respect and honesty -- like adults and by appealing to our enlightened self-interest by enlightening us rather than manipulating us.

      •  The Mythical Center (none)
        Lakoff is "ignoring the center" only because (and in the sense that) there is no such animal in cognative science sense. He's simply reporting what he's found by studying the use of language, and he hasn't found any consistent language of the center.

        Lakoff does have a lot to say about people in the center, however, which makes this claim simply false.  Some of the things he says are: (1) That people use different family models in different areas of their lives, and (2) often apply them episodically or semi-consistently. (3) That there are both principled and pragmatic versions of both models, and the pragmatic versions of both can appear as different flavors of "moderates." (4) That people in the middle care about issues which both sides do battle over, but that the way to do this successfully is to reinforce and connect with the core frame. Conservatives know this, which is why they are more effective among swing voters even when their policies are a mess--such as Bush's version of a perscription drug benefit.

        Finally, you should check out 30 years of polling by the General Social Survey, which shows that even a majority of self-identified conservatives supports stable or increased funding of a wide range of "liberal" spending programs. When it gets down to pragmatic-level decisions, the center in American politics is decided to the left of the establishment political spectrum.  This represents a huge disconnect in electoral politics.  In terms of policy positions, the "center" is actually somewhere out there in the vicinity of Dennis Kucinich.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:01:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kucinich and Nader... (none)
          I took the Political Compass test and ended up just slightly left and slightly libertarian of center.  The political candidate closest to me according to them was Nader.  Fine with me, I agree with most of his positions.  I also like a lot of what Kucinich campaigned for.

          I guess my objections to Lakoff are that he is pointing the left in the same direction the right has already taken.  I don't like the right spinning frames.  Why would I like it any better coming from the left?

          I want to break the media filter that makes this kind of framing (spinning) the only thing getting through.  

          Andrew Card said outright that Bush thinks of us as 10 years olds. Why encourage that kind of thinking as Lakoff does?

          •  Please Read The Book! (none)
            In fact, read all his books.  You will have a much better understanding of his ideas than you can possible get in any other way.

            The reason that we are losing is precisely because of this sort of thinking:

            "I guess my objections to Lakoff are that he is pointing the left in the same direction the right has already taken.  I don't like the right spinning frames.  Why would I like it any better coming from the left?"

            There are two problems here.

            (1) This assumes that there is some form of unvarnished truth, free from any sort of frame.  Like it or not, this is just simply not true. Lakoff is a cognitive scientist. He studies human cognition. And this is one of the most solid findings of cognitive science--there is no thinking that is free of a cognitive frame.  Lakoff even co-wrote a book that examines the cognitive frames in mathematics. If you can't get free of frames in mathematics, well, forget about politics free of frames.

            The idea of pure knowledge, untainted by human interest or bias, is indeed tantilizing.  But it is an illusion.  And this is what you are insisting on--a politics of illusion, simply because it is a comforting illusion.  (And, like most comforting illusions, it leads to no good. This was Plato's illusion, if you recall--the rule of those who were capable of grasping pure knowledge--in effect, a chilling dictatorial vision.)

            (2) It ignores the real alternate.

            Does all the above mean we have to be just like Republicans? Not at all.  We put out our frames to challenge theres. And we invite people to look at both frames side-by-side. Try each one on. See which of them makes more sense to you. By comparing frames, we are creating a more sophisticated and comprehensive political discourse.

            You are assuming that frames can only be used in one way--to deaden thought. But by presenting people with two (or more) frames that present things differently, the exact opposite is possible--a much richer range of political thought.

            The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

            by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 02:39:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  NYT accidentally leaves in editor's comment (none)
      In this A Closer Look at Kerry's Record on Taxes, the following appears (italics mine) "Some of these savings are rather vague, like money saved from reducing corporate welfare tax cuts, OK? `corporate welfare' sounds kinda tendentious closing tax loopholes and improving government efficiency."

      I wonder if that's the writer's or the editor's comment. The whole article is annoying.

    •  I love this guy (none)
      Here's a good digest of what Lakoff's about; the kind of thing you can print out and read on the train during your commute.

      Metaphor, Morality, and Politics, Or, Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals In the Dust

      I think I got turned on to Lakoff by that same article in the Prospect. This is the kind of thinking we need to assume if we want to be in the game at all.

      treason is the reason

      by DjW on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:40:38 AM PDT

    •  Play offense, and in numbers. (none)
      Go to Lakoff's Rockridge Institute web site to learn more about framing. Conservatives have spent 30 years and $2 billion framing issues. Progressives have a lot of catching up to do. Not only do we need to all understand and assimilate progressive vs. conservative framining, we need to then create the language to communicate progressive issues.

      Most importantly, we need every single Democrat -- elected officials, candidates, voters, et. al. -- to communicate the issues in progressive frames. The problem isn't that we don't know we've been framed by conservatives, it's that we're on the defensive rather than the offensive. It's that we're outnumbered by conservatives who've been framing issues for decades, while all progressives do is react. We must take the offensive, and in big numbers.

      Look alive, people. Look alive.

      by bobinkc on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:46:46 AM PDT

    •  It's Not About Debate At All (3.66)
      Framing was the concept we needed in the early 1980's. The problem is that since then we've allowed all our information infrastructure to be operated in the private property model. In this increasingly efficient economy, it's no longer feasible for media to operate a press except for niche markets.

      The complaints we all make about the media and about the opposition boil down to an absence of meeaningful debate or any kind of discourse about issues. The opposition works almost exclusively in emotion because that's the kind of data the media conveys. The United States doesn't have infrastructure for conducing debate on a regional or national scale.

      So while, sure, we must learn to do our own framing, we also have to recognize that the Republicans own the entire wall where the frames are hung. The owners of the wall get to decide which frames are hung up, where they're hung, and what other frames are hung around them.

      Because of this, only frames with certain types of content can be visible. If we fill the frames with ideas trying to attract people to our reasoned logic, it's not going to be very effective because logic, discourse and debate are not what the wall is for, and they're not what people come to the wall to see.

      We need to understand what kind of content will be visible from our frames on the wall that's available to us.

      Incidentally Kerry's speech this moment emphasizing incompetence and denial of the forewarnings as well as analysis after the fact, is making a good start down this road.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 07:55:48 AM PDT

    •  Hate to be a killjoy (none)
      But none of this is exactly new, other than Lakoff's own pet labels for things.  Both parties have known how to do this for decades, with varying levels of effectiveness.  One of the best examples on the Democratic side is the label placed on a government program now viewed as the "third rail" of American politics.  By framing the issue of retirement planning as one of domestic security, Democrats succeeded in creating one of the landmark institutions of 20th century politics.
      The best framing not only sells policy, but guides the policy debate onto "your" issues.  Clinton did this all the time by describing every spending initiative as "investing" in government, a public good, and talking about "growing" the economy.
      If anyone is interested in the science (political psychology) behind this, start with Iyengar & Kinder (1987).
      •  But it is new, in the sense (none)
        that conservatives now own all the frames, and Democrats respond within those frames. For example, our party now talks about "tax relief" for the middle class. "Tax relief," a conservative frame, implies taxes are an affliction; those who call for the cure (reducing taxes) are the heroes, while those who oppose the relief are obstructors.

        But rather than argue whether Lakoff's approach to framing is new or old, let's channel our energies toward framing issues in progressive terms.

        Taxes is a prime example. Paraphrasing Lakoff, taxes should be framed as the dues one pays to live in America and enjoy Democracy. Taxes paid by preceding generations built the infrastructure we now enjoy, and that business in particular benefits from (the court system, the Internet, etc.). Building a successful business using the taxpayer-funded infrastructure, then setting up offshore addresses to avoid paying taxes, cheats America. It ensures those with money keep the money (earned on the backs of taxpayers) without continuing to support the system, robbing current and future Americans of the same opportunity enjoyed by the tax dodger...

        Look alive, people. Look alive.

        by bobinkc on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 08:20:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're Only Scratching The Surface (none)
        You need to read Lakoff before you criticize him, dude!

        Lakoff isn't just saying "it's important how you frame issues!"  He's explaining how frames work in a systematic and sophistaced way. And he's explaining why Republicans have been far more effective than Democrats have over the past 30-40 years.

        And, with all due respect, it wasn't language that made Social Security so immensely popular. It was a little thing called the Great Depression.  The Republicans tried to run against it in 1936, and got their asses handed to them. Some of Gallup's earliest polling showed 80%+ support for Social Security in the late 1930s. Eventually the Republicans got the message, and Eisenhower and Nixon made major enahncements to Social Security.  

        Democrats were complacent, in a sense, because they relied on reality, which clearly favored their approach.  Conservatives HAD to rely on framing, because they were working against reality.  Democrats failed to realize how important framing was--and still do, to this day. That's why Lakoff is so important for us.  It's to explain this in a systematic way, so that we understand how deep this goes.  It's not just an add-on, folks. It's the killer ap.

        The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

        by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 11:47:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right on, Paul (none)
          You nailed it. While Democrats rested on their laurels and, frankly, got lazy, conservatives hunkered down, invested in think tanks, supported conservative politicians, and took ownership of the national debate.

          Lakoff met with Howard Dean during Dean's presidential primary run. Despite some excellent talking points from the Dean campaign ("No Republican president has balanced the budget in 40 years. If you want to have fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget, you better elect a Democrat"), Lakoff said the Dean campaign didn't get it.

          We've got work to do, and Lakoff's groundwork is just the beginning, but it's a solid start.

          Look alive, people. Look alive.

          by bobinkc on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:50:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It all comes down to Love vs. Fear (3.66)
      Great stuff--I think Lakoff offers valid psychological insight here.  Without getting too cerebral or abstract, I would say his thinking follows directly from the observation that all motivation of any moral significance comes from either Love or Fear.  Those are the two great opposites, or polarities, in the moral realm--the fundamental motivations from which all else springs.  We think of hate being the opposite of love, but actually it is fear--because we must first fear someone before we can hate him. Love basically means "putting the other person's interest at least equal to your own."

      The "strict father" model comes out of Fear.  The "nurturant parent" model comes out of Love.

      This leads to another polarity, on the plane of behavior.  How do we then act, once our basic motivation is established?

      When it comes to the daily choices we make, we can follow an Ethic of Obedience, or an Ethic of Creativity.  These are opposites on the plane of behavior.  In deciding our next action, do we follow a rule, an established way of doing things, OR do we make the effort (not always necessary, to be sure) to consider new angles and try something creative?

      Here is where the Doctrine of the Golden Mean comes in.  We each have to find a balance between these polarities, appropriate to the situation at hand.  We do this based on our own (limited) perceptions, abilities and possibilities. Synthesizing the most productive approach in a given situation (the correct amount of fear vs. love, or creativity vs. obedience to established norms), is something that takes some thought and awareness.

      Generally, an appeal to "All or Nothing" thinking, which is typical of demagogical (usually right-wing) politics, is a red flag that the appeal is based on fear.  The choices are framed in a strict "Either-Or" fashion.  "Either I take the word of a madman OR I defend America.  Given that choice I'll defend America every time!"

      Of course, those weren't in fact the only two choices, since the madman had already been defanged by Desert Storm and 12 years of UN sanctions and inspections, and wasn't really a threat after all. But all-or-nothing propositions motivated by fear are very powerful, and the Republicans are masters of it.  They are credible because they are perceived to BELIEVE what they say, and they DO believe it because they live life from a posture of fear.

      The real question is how can people who live life from a more open posture of adventure and experimentation, where things aren't so black-and-white, find ways to sell this approach to politics?

    •  The difference is....... (none)
      Just read the comments from this thread as compared to others. I personally don't know enough to contribute, but the discussions are about us, who cares who's on the other side.
    •  Looking for a book recommendation (none)
      I just heard from my grandfather this weekend. He is a retired Air Force colonel, a true career military man. My right-winger uncle just sent him "Unfit for Command" and he read it and wanted to know if I had read it. Apparently it made an impression. I told him there were two sides to every story, and that "Unfit for Command" was just one.

      I really want to send him an antidote to that biased anti-Kerry propaganda. Can someone please recommend a book for me to send him?  He reads a lot, and if I can find a book that is intelligently written, preferably by someone who is historically conservative or has a strong military background, I think he will give it a chance.

      ALSO, if anyone has a link to an article explaining the various biases of the "Unfit for Command" authors, please post it. I read plenty that made me realize their agenda, but I don't have a link handy. THANKS.

      There were lies, damn lies and statistics. Now the Republicans have added a category: speeches.

      by gogaddy on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 08:20:48 AM PDT

      •  Here's a link to a Vietnam Vets' site (none)
        Not pretty but very credible perspective on the subject.

        "The swift boat poseurs attacking John Kerry are the latest example of the work of those who would rewrite history for the sake of politics. It's been done before and it never works as anticipated. Most American vets are justifiably proud of their military records, and especially their decorations, which are valuable for the reason that they are not easily won and are only  awarded based on the testimony of his fellow soldiers and attested to by sworn documents.  The idea that they can be fraudulently won casts doubt not just on Mr. Kerry's decorations, but on the decorations of every other man or woman who served and shares the distinction of the same awards. If Kerry's decorations are invalid because a dippy old man is jealous, then so are the decorations of every other veteran. Sooner or later this will be realized among veterans at large. When that happens, the resentment against the swifties will work against the president they say they support.

    •  Read Lakoff, THEN comment. (none)

      Any fool can have express an opinion - and many do. If you want to commment on Lakoff, you've got to put at least an hour or so into reading his material. Otherwise, you're just projecting your own assumptions and prejudices.

      Lakoff has come up with a pretty comprehensive explanation of the process of how people in the US align themselves with "liberal" and "conservative" positions, and how the GOP and other rightwingers have consciously exploited that process.

      Lakoff's explanation is sophisticated and detailed. It does not boil down to just "framing the argument" or "mommy party, daddy party." If you want to understand this stuff, and use it to stuff the conservatives' fear-mongering, pandering propaganda back down their throats, YOU HAVE TO READ IT.

      One quick example of how much many folks in this thread are ignorant of what Lakoff says. According to Lakoff, the way that people tend to view a political party as a parent is intrinsic. He's not arguing that we ought to push for or against that idea. He's saying that what people seem to be doing, without anyone pushing them towards it, is viewing political parties as a parent.

      Further, he is saying that there are whole clusters of overlapping values and paradigms that people generally have that tip them towards being conservative or being liberal, and that these play out in certain parenting styles, attitudes towards what roles government should take domestically and internationally, and the whether people view human behavior as being governed primarily by internal self-discipline and competition, or also by external social and eoconomic facts, such as class, race, etc.

      That's the best nutshell I can give; please don't rely on it - READ LAKOFF. And only get Moral Politics if you have a couple of weeks to really read it - it's very good, and very dense.

      Here's a link to an excerpt from Lakoff's new book:

      •  I've Read Lakoff (none)
        I've read Moral Politics. It is essentially two books. One is a very intelligent and coherent analysis of rhetoric, with exhortations addressed to liberals that they simply must concentrate more on looking at how things are said.

        The second book is concerned with promulgating the Big Idea of a nice mommy/strict daddy split between libs' and cons' worldviews. This is genuine fingernails on the blackboard stuff. What next, crystal power?

        Look, Lakoff's small insight is right on. Remove the baby, keep the bathwater, and he's a very useful read.

    •  A question for Lakoff (none)
      How does this analogy apply to households where neither parent was particularly nurturing?
    •  Conservatives and policy? (none)
      Does Lakoff say anything that explains why conservatives are so much better at politics and winning elections than they are at formulating and implementing policies in government?
    •  Check Out My Review, Too (none)
      A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review in diary entry here.  It originally appeared in Random Lengths News, a progressive bi-weekly in the Los Angeles Harbor Area, where I am senior editor.

      The Structure of Lies In A Land Without Silence--Let's put the information back in the information age!

      by Paul Rosenberg on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:25:44 AM PDT

    •  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. 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

    •  Lakoff in San Francisco (none)
      Lakoff spoke last weekend in San Francisco.  I wasn't able to make it.  Was anyone there that can give me a report?

      "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals -- and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship." - Grover Norquist

      by yatdave on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:56:41 AM PDT

    •  If you view God as a Father... (none)
      In in '80's edition of the magazine Culturefront I read an interview with an activist minister (possible Daniel Barrigan) that I'll never forget.

      The minister claims to have conducted a poll matching personal "frames" of God to voting preferences.  He found the most accurate predictor of voting for Reagan at that time was whether an individual perceived god as a disciplinarian "Father" reponsible for protection or punishment.

      His finding was more accurate than class, race, party affiliation and a host of other issues.

    •  Bought it (none)
      Was meaning to anyway, so I sent you some Amazon love, Kos. :)
    •  Republicans are selfish (none)
      this has been rolling around in my head for a while. How about the notion that Republicans are just out for themselves? That's why they are opposed to social programs and want tax breaks and less government. More for them. No help for others.

      A case could be make that Bush is intentially bankrupting the government so there will be no money left to provide social programs--which conservatives don't like.

      Obviously, it would be political suicide for any politician to acknowledge this. But, it seems to fit much of the behavior I see.

      I'd be interested in thoughts on this.

    •  Lakoff spreads through the blogosphere (none)
      I have provided a number of links to good discussions on framing and the Lakoffian scheme on my blog.  I have also written a number of posts that in one way or another touch upon this topic.  You are welcome to come by and check for yourself:

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