Tag Archives: authoritarian

The Right Fears, The Left Loves

The Left are lovers, the right are scared; that’s the short story from new study came out recently from the Political Science Dept. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A test group of established conservative and liberal subject were hooked up to machines that measured physiological responses and found that conservatives fixated on images they found fearful and liberals were relatively unfazed.  Continue reading

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Obama Straddles the Fence

I began this post as a sort of Cliff’s notes on the framing of the State of the Union address, but now have done the equivalent of ripping the page out of the typewriter, crumpling it up and tossing it in the can. Obama’s speech had a lot of great points, he is a good speaker and has good writers – the majority of Americans can rally around the majority of the ideas put forward in the speech. He does speak of values – which is where his progressive streak sparks a flame – then he snuffs it out when he tries to walk the fence for the sake of being “moderate”.

Americans aren’t moderates! It is popular to seem moderate and say you’re moderate, but in fact that is not how our brains operate. There are really only two positions for each detail of an issue –  we agree or disagree, yes or no, good or bad – you can almost always break an issue down in this way. We answer those questions by checking our internal value system; is it making us feel empathetic (nurturing, caring) or judgemental (strict, authoritarian). The only other possibility is that of being apathetic or unaware; even if you are uninformed, malinformed, or ignorant you may have a strong opinion, as is painfully apparent today. We are like computers in that this system of forming opinions is basically a set of ones and zeroes.

Let’s try an issue. Continue reading

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Gingrich and the Ladies

The man of the hour is Newt Gingrich. He’s getting attention and South Carolina has a reputation of picking THE Republican nominee. Seems a bit surprising until you notice Frank Luntz seems to be his BFF lately. For those not familiar, Frank Luntz is the Republican wordsmith/ focus group guru that helps them pick just the right words to say and the frames they work in – Words that Work (his book). I promised earlier that I would analyze a portion of the CafeMom focus group that Newt and Frank participated in; this is a good time. My suspicion is that Luntz has been retained for the duration of the campaign and was hired once Newt realized he had a big problem with his image among women. Social conservatives don’t take kindly to serial marriage – or divorce. They also don’t like hearing about an open marriage, his alleged multiple mistresses, or the story about hassling his soon-to-be ex-wife on her “death bed” (for the record, she was recovering from a tumor removal surgery – also for the record he admits to one affair). It almost doesn’t even matter, the nuances of truth or rumor in these tales, because the picture – or frame – has already been painted. You can’t un-hear something, un-see it, or un-imagine it. Once a frame has been locked in, it is very hard to shake. This is why the wordsmith has likely been called in. Luntz is working hard to get Newt to seem more likeable to women – to an insulting degree in my opinion. Newt is fast on his feet anyway, but Frank can point out his weak areas and teach him to relate a bit better, and answer the tough questions by resetting the frame of the conversation.These tactics are working.

CafeMom sponsored an event where the guest of honor was Newt Gingrich and the facilitator was Frank Luntz. I can’t quite figure out what the reason for the event was other than Newt wanting to speak to moms and this seemed to be a good forum. The set up is already suspicious on my radar – were moms clamoring to really connect to Newt? Like a practiced volleyball game Frank Luntz sets up Newt over and over and Newt spikes the ball; Newt painstakingly ingratiates himself. Not only does he pander to the audience, but the crying babies and crying candidate (yes, Newt cries) tap into our audio consciousness and push those motherly empathetic buttons all over the place. For the folks in the audience it was probably even more sensory overload, baby smells, pinchable baby cheeks peppered throughout the audience, coffee talk, and mom as the unsung hero – but wait, I thought Newt was a hard nosed authoritarian? Continue reading

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