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