Conservatives of Late, Liberals Underestimate

For those of you who missed it, George Lakoff wrote a new article about Republican strategy – not just Republican strategy but the extreme social conservatives. This strategy is personified in Rick Santorum but is mimicked by the other candidates in trying to out-do each other with more and more socially regressive rhetoric. I am re-posting because it is a great point made by a guy who studies brains and language, and who is passionately progressive.

He really does knock it out of the park so I won’t go into his article fully here, but the ideas are worth repeating (and repeating and repeating). Progressives must stop being self congratulatory and stop lampooning the social conservatives; they are serious contenders to rule this country. To a progressive, many of the phrases, ideas, and supporters for the Republican primary are laughable. The ideas seem backwards and unpopular, the gaffes are unforgiveable, the facts are often non-existent. Progressive love using facts to make their arguments and tend to act as if everyone has the same level of interest and respect for their version of the facts. This attitude is fatal to connecting with an electorate.

Facts are great, necessary, and should be checked; when someone has the facts wrong, by all means you should call them on it. Morality, however, is how you unite a nation and win hearts and minds around the world. The moral case for liberalism is understood amongst liberals, but the logic for the moral case has not been made in this country. If it had been made, unions would be much stronger, we wouldn’t be freaking out about crumbling infrastructure, and this most recent “war on women” would not be happening. Making the public aware of the moral logic behind what progressives want takes emotion – something Dems aren’t that good at in the public arena – and it takes stories. This emotion and all of our stories need to not just be in campaigns, but on our lips everyday with the people we meet.

The lampooning will happen all around, it is an election year, but when that is the main thrust of the Democratic message, you may as well be promoting Republicans. As Lakoff says, progressives must have positive messages about their positions and repeat them often. This means good slogans, good illustrations/stories, and knowing where your values lie so you can speak in general with a consideration for where your empathy lies. No one needs to approve your message, you must speak from the heart – why does something inspire or enrage you? Remember the lesson of Don’t Think of an Elephant, simply negating a conservative will only reinforce or promote that idea – come up with your own from a positive viewpoint.

We want healthy productive Americans! We want to honor our elders and make sure they can live a dignified life! Each person should be able to pursue their happiness without invasions of privacy or compromising their liberty. We want our government to be transparent and free of corruption. The needs of We the People want must come before corporations to secure our future. Progressives have morals, they have emotion – they must use them or continue losing power. Explain yourself.

Speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. – Maggie Kuhn

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9 thoughts on “Conservatives of Late, Liberals Underestimate

  1. Progressives and conservatives must understand that the democrat and republican parties do no represent either. They are primarily funded by the same people who do not care about progressive or conservative ideas, they care about redistribution of wealth mainly from everybody else to themselves. The only way to limit the corruption of government and in politics is to limit its size and scope. Government is power, like a machine gun, it does not care who uses it or how it is used. It will fire no matter who pulls the trigger. I long for a country that allows conservatives to be conservative and progressives to be progressive leaving each of us alone to pursue our own coarse. Why do conservatives and progressives need to impose their values on the rest of us? Why are both sides willing to sell their own freedom to government in exchange for government’s promise to limit the freedom of others? This is a dangerous path.

    Thank you for your blog, dialogue is really our greatest weapon in defense of liberty.

    • Amy Meier says:

      Thanks for your comments. I think the key is that we all have to stay human (none of this de-humanizing language), and yes, dialogue.

      As for the motivations of progressives and conservatives…
      The progressive belief system includes hearing many different opinions and being comfortable with “grey areas”; they have the most problem with people who aren’t as open minded. Conservatives prefer black and white/ right and wrong opinions beliefs, so they are motivated to get the “right” answer in it’s proper place at the top of the hierarchy. For both groups, it is a question of enforcing their morality.

      Also, according to Lakoff, “the rest of us” are a bunch of people that just have a mixed bag of issues, moralities/values, and perspectives that are already progressive or conservative (there is no such thing as the “middle”). When the ideological pundits start talking, they are trying to get your brain activated around “their” issues through repetition. Check out the Lakoff article, he goes more into this. With enough reinforcement, the memes become the way our brain thinks. Just like an unwanted television jingle in your head, you will start thinking like the people repeating the memes if that is all you hear.

      Your statement about how the parties and the ideologies don’t represent each other I think is partly true. I think politicians do become candidates around ideologies, but the reality on the ground of how government works is more like your synopsis. If a politician stays in office, they nearly all eventually morph into a political robot that follows the common practices of the day.

      Thanks again for the input.

    • lokywoky says:

      The only quarrel I have with your perspective is that of the ‘government’ being some amorphous entity. It is not – it is made up of those same conservatives and progressives – politicians for the most part, along with idealists and others who try to make the system work when they get there but because of the size and unwieldiness of the ship of state are absorbed into the minutiae of process.

      The other part of that is when people speak of ‘government’ I find they generally refer to the federal government. But the government is also made up of the state, county, city, and other smaller entities as well. We choose representatives for all of these – just as we do for the federal level. It is up to us to choose well at all levels.

      Complaining about what the politicians do at the federal level is partly the fault of those of us voters who choose not to participate, or those who choose only to participate at one level or the other, or those who vote – but never write/call/fax or otherwise make their viewpoints known to those who have been elected.

      In order to have a civil society that contains some 320 million souls – we all have to give up a bit. We cannot just do our own thing. We agree to all drive on the right hand side of the road, stop at red lights, go on green and so on. That’s an obvious example, but it applies in so many things. Before there were cars and roads – those rules were unnecessary. Things have changed. As we get more technology, we will need more new rules to govern areas of privacy on the internet and over the airwaves for example. For the most part, corporations usually don’t do the correct thing unless they are forced to do so by the government. That is a fact of life. We need regulations to be safe from hazardous materials in our food, water, and air. From lead paint on childrens toys and in our pets food. From all kinds of unsafe products, working conditions and so on. It isn’t that corporations are inherently evil – they are just unthinking because they are not people – they have no brains. Their only purpose and duty is to make money. So they must be regulated.

      Our government is what we, its citizens make of it and demand from it. It is what we want from it, and what we want it to do. The services it provides are what we have asked it to do. As stated in the Constitution – the government is tasked to “provide for the common defense AND to provide for the general welfare.

      Conservatives and progressives agree that government needs to do those things – they just disagree on how.

      • Amy Meier says:

        Great points. The government is “We the People”; we get a government that we collectively create.

      • Well written and thoughtful, I wish I had better writing skills. You are right in that I do feel the higher the level of government the more removed and out of touch the politicians from their constituates, the more inefficient the execution of policies, and the greater the potential for disaster. If you consider welfare as one of tens of examples on the local level it is great. I have seen churches give to single mothers, families effected by floods, and assist in finding jobs, housing, food and clothing. The result is the restoration of dignity for the family and a strengthening of community. On the federal level welfare has resulted is massive housing projects that stretch for miles with the desperate souls inside taking poisons, selling their bodies and spreading disease with no hope of ever escaping.
        It is this same separation that precludes people from getting involved in their government. It seems easier to talk to someone on Mars than in Washington DC. But if most policies were set at the city or county level people would feel closer to their government.
        I also do not think that there should be any such thing as a corporation. What can a corporation do that that a normal business cannot do? Why do corporations exist? What is the purpose of creating an entity out of thin air and giving the rights and priveliges of citizens with none of the responsibilities? It appears to have had the effect of transferring wealth from the general population to corporations who now control elections thru media manipulation and campaign financing.
        Take a look at the history of aspartame, British Petroleum, saccharine, Solyndra, Goldman Sacs, Wamu, Citi, Freddie Mac, Countrywide and countless others if you think the federal government regulates corporations. Corporations regulate the federal government and they are able to do so because they have limitless revenues.
        Our national debt is 15 trillion, 50,000 dollars for every man woman and child in this country, that money represents the transfer of wealth from the population to corporations and political insiders. If you run the numbers it appears that is approximately equal to the corporate welfare plus the cost of the war on drugs, Iraq, Korea, Viet Nam, which were also fought at the behest of corporations.
        Government is no longer what we make of it because “we” really don’t have an equal voice anymore. We all have a voice but those with millions of dollars speak into bull horns while the rest of us are forced to whisper.
        I appreciate your responses. I only got Scared into an interest in politics 3-4 years ago and I am still learning.

  2. Amy Meier says:

    oooo, now that’s a good one, the idea that corporations effectively regulate the government. I hadn’t ever thought of it that way. Also the part about the unequal voice is so true for the present. Unfortunately, we got that way because of apathy, laziness, or complacency on the part of the American citizen.

  3. lokywoky says:

    As far as corporations – if we look back to history…I love history!

    At the beginning of our country, the founding fathers felt that corporations were so evil and so uncontrollable that they wrote into law that any corporation would automatically be dissolved 15 years after it was incorporated. This was to prevent it from becoming too powerful.

    What happened? Well, a bunch of legislator who sat on the boards of some corporations decided to repeal the law. Gee – we were taken over by the corporatocracy way back then! Who woulda thunk it?

    Too bad we can’t get that law back!!

    • Amy Meier says:

      Can you post a link to the source for that particular bit of history? I did not know that, very interesting.

    • Why we would create an entity out of thin air, call it a corporation, and give it all the rights and privileges of citizens with none of the responsibilities is beyond me. This mythical creature is at the root of unchecked government expansion and intrusion into our lives in this country and others. 50-100 of the world’s largest corporations essentially determine the outcome of major election throughout the world and thus the political direction their respective countries. They are also heavily involved in the elections of members of the justice system, in the US that is primarily thru donations and media campaigns for certain state Supreme Court justices. Imagine how easy it is to stack the courts you only have to win 5-6 seats per state, usually less because some of the justices are naturally on your side that amounts to a maximum of 200-250 elections to have complete control in any country. If you think about the supremacy of the courts over other branches of government now days, stacking the courts is by far the cheapest power you can buy, far cheaper than trying to elect senators, representative, and presidents.

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