The choices look like they’re boiling down to three right now, Romney represents wealthy business interests, Santorum speaks for conservative Christians, and Obama, the known entity that not many are super stoked about. It looks like another race heading into the “not voting for _______” (fill in the blank with objectionable politician) instead of being proud to vote for our preferred candidate. This is a terrible position for a politician to be in, it means that their best traction comes only as a knee jerk response to an opponent. There is no inspiration, only revulsion. As was demonstrated in George Lakoff’s book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, you cannot successfully run against an entity by only calling attention to that entity. Or, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Just try it now, do not think of an elephant. I’ll bet you failed. The fact is that when we were itty-bitty kiddies, we learned “elephant” at some point, probably through a cheerful picture or visit to the zoo. When you learn the word elephant in this country (where elephants do not roam around), we strongly tie this noun to an image of an elephant. We memorize the greyness, the long nose, the big ears, all of the distinctive features at the same time that we hear the word and later learn to read the word.As parents we repeat these simple lessons multiple times to insure our children can identify their animals, words, and sounds. All of our senses coordinate our visual, audio, and cognitive information and file them in the same folder. Later, every time we hear the word “elephant”, it does not matter what words surround it, we will briefly recall our own generic image of “elephant” that we have on file. Just adding the word “don’t”, “no”, “bad”, “crazed” or any other word will not prevent us from first recognizing and acknowledging the animal as we know it. Continue reading