George Lakoff is one of my heros. He tells it like it is. He tells the truth as he knows it, whether people listen to him or not. Whether people take the time to heed his advice or not, he just keeps on saying what needs to be said.
A wise man he is, some say.
What Conservatives Really Want
by George Lakoff, readersupportednews -- Feb 19, 2011
-- Dedicated to the peaceful protestors in Wisconsin, Feb 19, 2011
The central issue in our political life is not being discussed. At stake is the moral basis of American democracy.
In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: Empathy — citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility — acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one’s fellow citizens.
The conservative worldview rejects all of that.
Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have over 800 military bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.
Or in other words:
Conservatives see life as a Competition, and the one with the most stuff in the end, WINS!
Liberals see life as a Journey, and the more people we interact with and help out along the way, the better off EVERYONE might someday be.
Different motives. Different world-views. And the intersection between this these differing sides of town can be tricky to navigate sometimes. Especially with that broken crosswalk signal, that barely keeps step with the daily traffic most days.
I know several different conservatives, and occasionally I try to converse with them on the topic of politics -- although much less than I used to. (Life is too short and stressful enough already, lol.)
Well recently I had one of those conversations. The insights it gave me into the Conservative mindset, were startling to say the least. It went something like this ...
My conservatives associate told me flat out:
People are fallible, lazy, and shifty;That is nearly verbatim. Needless to say I was stunned.
While Corporations are mission-driven, efficient, and thrifty.
Thus Government SHOULD cater to the needs of Corporations,
and NOT to the needs of People -- (Most people can't really be trusted, anyways.)
I mentally chalked it up to what Lakoff had said, about Conservatives trusting Corporations as wise authority figures, much more than they trust any individuals.
After some follow-up questioning on my part about corporations being driven by "short-term greed" more so than "long-term wise investments", my conservative aquaintaince summed his view on employer-employee relations, as so:
"People should only be rewarded for their hard-work, and that alone. If someone won't work hard, they shouldn't eat."
Well there are several counter-arguments to take when confronted with such reasoning; any of these rhetorical fracture-lines will do:
Corporate corruption, people unable to work, economic downturns, 1% boards of directors
... but the tact I took was to tread down a more "personal line" ...
I asked him how he felt about Corporations that perform needless layoffs -- Corporations that outsource Jobs just to boost their quarterly profits?
You see, we both knew a middle manager who had been "downsized" through no fault of his own (a 99er now).
I asked him,
What about So-and-so?
He was a "hard worker", right?
Did he "deserve" that sort of Corporate "reward"?
especially after 15+ years of loyal service to the corporate managers?
Well, my conservative friend could only manage a meek "No. Well no he didn't."
"But that's just business" he quickly threw in for good measure ...
My reply back, without missing a beat, was:
"What if we are next on that outsourcing cost-cutting corporate band wagon -- What then?
We work hard, right? (especially after all that downsizing) ... What then, if you or I are next on their list? That's just life in the Big City, eh?
Corporations don't "look so noble" -- so all-knowing and wise -- in that kind of spotlight;
In the spotlight of hard-working Americans they cast aside, like last year's news.
Simply ask an Authoritarian yes-man:
Do they know anyone Laid-off and still Unemployed? And did that person deserved it?
That should short circuit a few of their fuses.
I've heard progressive radio personality Thom Hartmann, summarize these competing world-views (frames), on how political parties view governing authorities in their lives, as follows (roughly put):
Republicans need an Authoritative "Father Figure"
-- Telling them what to do.
Democrats need a Nurturing "Father Figure"
-- Helping us each, to reach our potential.
That does some it up well, doesn't it:
Either were each in this together (the journey of life)
Or were each on our own (consigned to a living hell).
Which world-view would you rather be stuck in? Given the option of course.
Assuming that die has not already been permanently cast ... assuming your corporate-fearing lot in life, is not already set in stone ...
What then? What road would you choose, given the choice ...