Tag Archives: trigger words

Authority Rules (or does it?)

Yesterday I gave a talk on political framing, the audience was mixed, but leaned heavily toward favoring environmental protection – which likely meant there was a majority of progressives in the room. One of the comments and questions that was put forward was, “is authority truly the ultimate conservative value?”

Those that are familiar with this blog or the works of George Lakoff know that authority and tradition are stated to be the primary and highest priority of values of conservative opinion. A few people questioned whether the word “authority” has positive or negative connotations itself – the word “authoritarian” seemed to lean negative, while the word “tradition” seemed to lean positive in the general frames they evoke. Labeling a school of thought -conservatism- with a word that conjures up negative feelings, might not be the best way to get folks from that school of thought to start talking, so it is worth a look.

First of all, when we talk about the conservative view on any issue, it is not necessarily describing the person with that view. You may have a conservative opinion about a particular policy, yet overall describe yourself -and behave as if – you are liberal, libertarian, or another political orientation. For any issue that “authority” does not feel right, I would propose that one is not very conservative in their stance.

For instance… Continue reading

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We’re all at least a little Bi

Labels are problematic, sometimes they do more harm than good. The fact is that we begin our labeling as babies as we sort our world into categories. As language is introduced, literal labels get attached along with our new experiences and sounds. We can’t help but organize and categorize everything that falls into our realm. Trying to talk about our social, fiscal, and political culture can be tricky because there are so many aspects and none of them neatly organized. This is how we’ve come up with the political labels of “progressive” or “conservative”.

They are totally inadequate. Continue reading

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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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Who Controls Birth Control?

RawStory brings us this great example on NBC’s Meet the Press of a conversation where framing noticeably switches course several times. Who do you think “won” the framing battle here? It is a great piece of video because it is such a dramatic demonstration of how evoking frames makes you empathetic to the framers mindset. Start watching around 1:00. You’ll hear conservative pundit David Brooks, accuse the Obama administration of infringing on religious freedom because he is demanding that insurance providers – religious or not – must cover birth control.  Brooks says that Obama is forcing a religious organization to go against a tenet. Maddow steps in and makes the case that because that religious organization decided to provide insurance, it must follow the same guidelines as other insurers, guidelines that follow a democratically supported position. Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, counters with indignance; citing the message to Catholic hospitals and universities is “you can’t live you beliefs”. Continue reading

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An Occupied Kind of Tea Party

The Occupy movement has done much to change the conversation in our country around issues of commerce, the worker’s plight, and the inequity that exists between the very rich and the rest of us. I am thankful that they’ve done it because the status quo discourse around those matters was painfully apathetic. There is one unfortunate aspect to what has happened in the Occupy movement that provides a chink in their armor, it’s a path that creates further division – not unity – for their cause.

I would have hoped that early on the Occupy movement would have recognized the similarities between themselves and the Tea Partiers that demonstrated a season before them. You can point out many differences but the power comes from pointing out the similarities. The Tea Party started as a rejection of the bail out of the banks – little guys vs. big guys, the workers vs. the monied classes.  They were hostile to Wall Street and the preferences showed them over Main St. It was said that they despised all things big, Big Government, Big Banks, Big Business and Big Taxes – hey, I see a solid half of values matching up. Even Big Government and Big Taxes are contested concepts and relative terms; I don’t know many people that want bigger taxes and government just for the sake of being big. Since the start of the Occupy movement – and since it is commonplace to pit folks against each other – comparisons have been made between the Occupy and Tea Party Movement.

It is time for those of us with respect for our fellow humans to try and recognize our similarities and affinities and draw from them rather than point and laugh at our differences. Originally Tea Partiers were grassroots, organically organized, and rightfully upset at a system that had discounted their opinion. These very basic and authentic roots resonate with most of us, especially the Occupy sympathizers. I for one, as a sympathizer, want to reach out to my fellow citizens and human beings. I can respectfully disagree with some points and then wholeheartedly agree with many others. We agree that our system is dysfunctional. We agree that opportunity should be fair and that favoritism is fundamentally unfair. We don’t like our tax dollars or reputations to be squandered doing wasteful or hurtful things to others. There are a host of values that we align with that could be emphasized instead of taking cheap shots and trying to “gotcha!” each other.

I come from a family and area in the Midwest where it is common that find myself in a room of loved ones that do not politically agree with me, it does not make me love them less. It used to make me like them less, but now I understand where they are coming from and the values that they hold dear. Because I also hold my values dear and would fight to uphold them, it gives me respect for my debate partner to hear their well reasoned points ring with passion and integrity. When I hear rigorous debate that ditches the sophomoric name calling and embraces ethical rules of engagement, I have hope for the future. A glorious, wonderful thing happens when we give each other the time and space to express themselves in a respectable manner: our guard relaxes, we feel safer and we open our minds to begin learning from each other. We will never all agree with each other, but we can remind each other that we are human and at least in that, we have some common values. If we are to continuing to exist, we might as well try to bring out the best in each other.

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