George Lakoff warns why we should not become complacent about the 2012 election despite the fact that the candidates the GOP has offered are wackier than a night at the comedy club.
The Republican presidential campaign is about a lot more than the campaign for the presidency. It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America
The Santorum Strategy is not just about Santorum. It is about pounding the most radical conservative ideas into the public mind by constant repetition during the Republican presidential campaign.
Newt Gingrich says this is the most important election since the 1860's. Rick Santorum says if a Republican isn't elected in November the America you know and love will be lost. Mitt Romney says the stakes have never been higher. It's a battle for the soul of America.
The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of votersGeorge W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were mocked as candidates but they changed the public discourse and with it, how Americans thought. George Lakoff argues that the Republican presidential campaign has to be seen in this light. The same naiveté about messaging, public discourse, and effects on brains is now showing up in liberal discussions of the Republican presidential campaign.
You've heard the phrase 'there's no bad publicity'. George Lakoff applies it with a twist to the Republican campaign. Liberal press and blogs have reveled in ridiculing the clown car goat rodeo that is the GOP Presidential campaign and written thousands upon thousands of words about it. And this is all to the Republicans' benefit. It doesn't matter if it's Santorum, Gingrich, or Rommey saying it, what matters is that their concepts are getting air time. Their outrageousness is part of the strategy.
The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of voters -- in campaigns at all levels from Congress to school boards. Part of the Republican strategy is to get liberals to argue against them, repeating conservative language.
Regardless of who says it, by constantly repeating them, the concepts are reinforced in the minds of voters. It doesn't matter if the conversation is negative or positive, conservative ideas are activated in the brain and this subconsciously strengthens the brain circuitry that characterizes conservative values.
Many Democrats are reacting either with glee ("their field is so ridiculously weak and wacky." -- Maureen Dowd), with outrage (their deficit-reduction proposals would actually raise the deficit -- Paul Krugman), or with incredulity ("Why we're debating a woman's access to birth control is beyond me." -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz). Hendrik Hertzberg dismissed the ultra-conservatives as "a kick line of clowns, knaves, and zealots." Joe Nocera wrote that he hopes Santorum would be the Republican candidate, claiming that he is so far to the right that he would be "crushed" -- an "epic defeat," "shock therapy" that would bring back moderate Republicans. Democrats even voted for Santorum in the Michigan primary on the grounds that he would be the weaker candidate and that it would be to the Democrats' advantage if the Republican race dragged on for a long time.He says the antidote to this is to counter with positive messaging promoting liberal moral values. Expressing, and repeating them, just like the conservatives do. He goes on to explain that there is "a failure to understand the difference between policy and morality, that morality beats policy, and that moral discourse is absolutely necessary". The Democrats lost the House in 2010 because Republicans beat them with moral arguments ('freedom' and 'life) about Obamacare, even though people agreed with the policy contained in the legislation.
And the moral values of a basic progressive moral system are empathy and responsibility (both personal and others'). This contrasts with the authoritarian values of conservatives structured around a strict father, i.e. The Decider. Rick Santorum is tapping directly into the father figure mother lode. He says Democrats are missing the bigger picture of the next election.
Democrats are concentrating on the presidential race, hoping that if Obama wins, as it looks like he will, all will be fine. They are missing the bigger picture. The Democratic strategy of getting the independent women's vote for Obama is not sufficient, because independent women may still vote for their local conservative leaders as the strict fathers they want to see in office.He finally reminds the reader that
The Santorum Strategy does not end with this election. It is part of a permanent campaign that has been going on since the Gingrich revolution of 1994, and will continue into the indefinite future.And warns that Democrats tend to be literalists, but can't afford to make that mistake again in 2012.