Bring It On!

Book Review: Whose Freedom?

July 11th, 2006 | by Liberal Jarhead |

Whose Freedom? The Battle over America’s Most Important Idea, by George Lakoff, 288 pages, published 2006 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $23.00 USD, ISBN 0-374-15828-2

Links at www.fsgbooks.com and www.whosefreedom.com
Reviewed by Jim Finley (a.k.a. Liberal Jarhead) for Bring It On!

Words are important. We think in words, and it’s impossible to think of an idea without having the words for it. If we let the neoconservatives and fundamentalists control the words used in the debate over the direction our country is headed, they will have won the debate before it starts. The invaluable service George Lakoff has provided in this and earlier books is to bring some often-unconscious thought processes and assumptions underlying both progressive and neoconservative philosophy into the light. Once this is done, we can make fully conscious choices rather than being manipulated by assumptions of which we aren’t even aware.

That’s the message Dr. Lakoff has been trying to get across to progressives for years. His book Don’t Think of an Elephant made that point in 2004 but got too little heed from the Democratic Party. This time, he’s narrowed his focus to talk about the difference between what progressives and the neocon/fundamentalist alliance mean when they use the words “freedom” and “liberty.”

George Lakoff is a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at U.C. Berkeley and a founding senior fellow of the Rockridge Institute, a progressive research center and think tank. In addition to Don’t Think of an Elephant, his previous works include Moral Politics, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, and Metaphors We Live By, the last co-authored with Mark Johnson. We need more of his kind.

This book requires careful and reflective reading; I found myself stopping to reflect on examples from recent history that reinforced Dr. Lakoff’s points.

His key points in Whose Freedom include the following:

Human beings think in frames, as in frames of reference. Frames can be surface or deep – a surface frame is the first meaning that comes to mind when you hear a word, and a deep frame is an underlying value or assumption about the way things work. Those who are calling themselves conservatives, but are actually radicals – they are not seeking to conserve anything, but to reverse decades and centuries of progress in the realm of human rights and civil liberties – use a different set of frames than do progressives. The result is that when they repeat freedom like a mantra while sabotaging basic rights and freedoms here in the U.S. and around the world, they aren’t being hypocritical or dishonest most of the time – it’s just that the word means something so different to them that we don’t recognize it. A key point about frames is that when someone has adopted a deep frame and he/she encounters a fact that refutes that frame, the fact is ignored or rejected and the frame is retained intact. That’s why neocons and fundamentalists are able to ignore mountains of evidence about global warming, for example. It doesn’t fit into their worldview, so from their perspective, it can’t be true – the human mind’s response is to find a way to discount or reject it.

People’s moral and political perspectives tend to be based on one of two starting points, both of which are deep frames about the family – the strict father family model or the nurturant parent family model (three guesses which is the progressive starting point.) Since it has been a convention of western thinking for millennia to use the family as a metaphor for society, the two frames lead to starkly different views about what is expected and acceptable in leaders and “family members” at every level from the President to our own households. What is seen as desirable in one case is seen as either weak and negligent, or harsh and abusive, in the other.

One of the most basic differences in frames between progressives and the people who have taken over our country for the moment is the difference between collectivism and individualism. Neocons favor the “rugged individual” model, in which each of us is on our own in the world. By this value system, I should be responsible for my own health care, my own income, my own financial security in old age, etc., as well as those of my family. If I don’t have the self-discipline to take care of these things properly, I (and my family) deserve the consequences. Progressives, on the other hand, are more likely to take the view that “we’re all in this together” and that “I am my brother’s keeper.” Depending on which view a person has, programs like Social Security, Medicare, TANF, and so on are either basic common-sense decency in action or evil conspiracies to steal from the self-sufficient to enable the lazy. That’s why the Republican Party fought those programs when they were created and has been trying to get rid of them ever since. The neoconservative view is that anyone can succeed if disciplined, therefore, success and failure are deserved and shouldn’t be interfered with; some people are winners and some are losers, and losers deserve their status and fate. There’s no allowance for the “born on third base and thinks he hit a triple” phenomenon (as former Texas governor Ann Richards once said of GWB.)

Another area where the two perspectives differ is in their understandings of causality. Progressives tend to readily accept both simple cause-and-effect relationships (I yell at my boss, I get fired) and complex-system cause-and-effect relationships (global warming being the best example.) Fundamentalists and neoconservatives tend to reject complex systems and to limit their acceptance of causality to the simple. That means that one person’s SUV, for example, can’t possibly be causing acid rain to destroy Canadian forests. How could one vehicle do that? The notion of collective responsibility is alien to neocon thinking. Lakoff’s analysis of how this type of simplistic thinking led the neocons to expect very different results in Iraq is illuminating. Finally, this is why they reject the idea of evolution (though, ironically, they embrace a nasty social Darwinism.)

Both those differences – in views of responsibility for self and others and in views of causality – lead to fundamentally different attitudes about taxation. A progressive looks at the complex system that is our society and recognizes that no one gets rich, or even gets by, on his/her own. We all use physical and social infrastructure – roads, the postal service, the Internet, the courts, patent law, colleges, and so on – that we all collectively paid for. People who get rich are making much more intensive use of these resources, so they have the return obligation to make a greater contribution to their upkeep. A neocon, on the other hand, tends to look at his/her income as money he/she made unassisted and to look at taxation as stealing what’s his/hers. Those differences are very important, because wealth is important. Wealth equals freedom in many ways – it gives us the ability to do things we would not otherwise be able to do. For example, Donald Trump has the freedom to decide to spend this weekend in Rome, but I don’t, because I lack the wealth to do so. This means that the systematic transfer of wealth from the middle and working classes to the richest 2% of Americans that has gone on through the administrations of Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. – the wealthiest 2% of Americans now have more money than the lowest 80% - is also a transfer of freedom, a lessening of the freedom of most of us to give more freedom to a very few.

Another area of difference is that fundamentalists and neoconservatives have contrasting views of human nature. The neocon outlook views the strict father, the leader, as inherently and automatically moral - otherwise he couldn’t have been successful enough to get to be the leader - but people in general as needing fear of punishment to make them behave, with the concomitant idea that government should monitor people’s activities, trumping any right to privacy, and if you aren’t doing anything wrong there’s no reason to object. A metaphor might be the strict-parent-family idea that a teenager shouldn’t object to being forbidden to close his/her bedroom door if he/she isn’t up to anything wrong. The progressive outlook places less trust in leadership and more in people in general.

An additional difference is in the two camps’ perspectives on corporations. The wealthy tend to use corporations as their primary vehicle for gaining and increasing wealth. Accordingly, they support the view that those corporations should be treated as persons under the law, and they often portray the corporation as the victim of government persecution and interference. This is why deregulation and so-called tort reform are two of their banner issues. Actually, as Lakoff notes, large corporations usually behave more like quasi-governments themselves. They are bureaucratic and impersonal, often grossly inefficient, they use their power to obtain large amounts of the taxpayers’ money, and they make decisions that control people’s lives, as when HMOs decide what medical care they will or won’t provide. Unlike actual government, though, corporations and the humans who make their decisions are unelected and are not accountable to the public – except through regulations and civil courts. After all, no one can put a corporation in prison. So if the regulations and the recourse of lawsuits were taken away, there would be no way to hold the corporation accountable for its use or misuse of its often great power to harm people. The neocons have made great strides toward achieving exactly that result.

Lakoff eloquently explains the phenomenon of the cheap labor trap and disproves the myths of the ownership society and the free market that in part support it. To quickly sum up the cheap labor trap – 45 million Americans work at jobs that don’t provide health care or a living wage; the conservative myth says that if they worked harder or were more disciplined they could “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”, but the truth is that there are not 45 million decent jobs waiting for those people to move up into them, the capital does not exist for them to start businesses and be entrepreneurs, and our society and economy cannot function without someone doing those 45 million scut jobs. The truth is that by classifying labor as a commodity and legitimizing the practice of seeking to get that labor as cheaply as possible with no responsibility on the part of the employer for the impact on the people who do the work, 45 million Americans are dehumanized and objectified in a way that goes against the value, accepted by most Americans, that a person should be able to earn a decent living in exchange for an honest day’s work. This is, in part, why we need unions, as Lakoff makes clear. He systematically analyzes much of the rhetoric we have heard from Bush and his people, shows how it is patently unworkable – it may be ideologically pure from their perspective, but it is impractical and unworkable in the real world because of the parts of the picture it leaves out – and notes some underlying assumptions and hijacked definitions of terms and pointing out the merging of neoconservative politics and fundamentalist religion, both approached with a missionary attitude.

One of the other differences Lakoff points out is that freedoms consist of both freedoms to do things and freedoms from things such as harm or infringements on our rights. The neocons are typically much more conscious of their own “freedoms to” and unconcerned with others’ “freedoms from”, i.e. with how their exercise of their claimed rights may violate the rights or well-being of others. Where a progressive might say, “your freedom to swing your arm ends where my nose begins,” the neocon might reply, “Your nose is your problem, you’re violating my freedom to swing my arm!”

In the field of religion, Lakoff examines the assumptions separating fundamentalism and progressive faith, and the elements of belief supporting opposition to abortion and stem-cell research and the advocacy of so-called “intelligent design.” He shows the contrast between progressive virtue ethics, which are based on general principles of right and wrong, and fundamentalist moral law, which is based on specific and absolute rules rather than principles. (Note: in graduate school earning a degree in psychology, we studied stages of moral development, and by this standard fundamentalism is a basically more primitive level of moral development – about the level most of us pass through in early elementary school but some get stuck at, i.e. “the rules are the rules and good boys and girls obey the rules.”) This leads to fundamentalists misinterpreting (or deliberately mischaracterizing) progressivism, with its basis of principles rather than specific rules, as “relativism”, advocating no constraints and no morality, a state of anarchy. This defies common sense, but common sense has nothing to do with it.

He also points out a common progressive mistake, the error of rationalism, which is assuming that people behave rationally and denying the existence of frames. When we bang our heads against walls and ask each other why people vote against their own interests, we are committing this mistake. In fact, people vote based on emotion-driven thought, much of it unconscious, and are more likely to vote for a candidate with whom they identify, who appears sincere, and who talks about values they feel they share, rather than for a candidate who appeals to their reason.

Lakoff lays forth some a series of neocon/fundamentalist deep frames or assumptions. Without understanding that these are the starting points for a lot of positions, we will not be able to effectively counter their messages:

• Everyone does, and should, act to pursue his or her own self-interest, normally interpreted in a material or economic sense.

• If everyone is free to pursue his or her self-interest with minimal interference from government, then the interests of all will be maximized.

• Religion is the only source of morality. (Lakoff makes a strong case that empathy, in fact, is the source of morality, and that religion takes its morality from empathy, or should.)

• Fundamentalist Christianity is the religion of America (in fact, fundamentalists are a small minority among Christians.)

• Those in power are there because they deserve to be and can be depended on to act wisely and for the good of everyone else.

• Opposing authority is wrong and sinful.

• America, because it is the strongest country in the world, has the right and responsibility to lead the rest of the world, including forcing other countries to do what we know is right, using military and economic force including preemptive war if necessary. Because America is in this position of natural leadership, America can be trusted to know and do what is right.

• The world is divided into good and evil, right and wrong, and if you aren’t with the good people (us) you’re against us and are therefore evil (Ann Coulter, anyone?)

• Human beings have been given the natural world by God to do with as we wish, and it is right and natural to use and exploit natural resources for our own profit.

In closing, Lakoff calls urgently for a systematic campaign to combat neocon propaganda depicting conservatives as “regular folks” and progressives as an out-of-touch elite. He points out the need to draw on the fact that most people are “biconceptuals” who think and behave using strict-father models in some areas of life and nurturant-family models in others, and to draw on the nurturant values shared by most people to frame progressivism as more consistent with the lives and values of “regular folks” and to show that the neoconservatives are the real elitist threat who endanger things most Americans hold dear.

We must stop the neoconservative and fundamentalist theft of the words freedom and liberty; point out how those words most truthfully apply to progressive goals; stop our own use of conservative-framed language and terms (the point Lakoff also made in Don’t Think of an Elephant); talk in terms of the expansion or contraction of freedom; and show how conservatives are trying to reduce individual freedoms. The soul of America hangs in the balance.

I can’t urge progressives strongly enough to buy this book, read it, and act on it. The kind of country we pass on to our children and grandchildren depends on it.

NOTE: BIO’s own Austin will be interviewing George Lakoff on Friday! If you have questions or thoughts you’d like Austin to have in hand for that interview, please send them to him before then. The interview will be posted on BIO next week. Watch for it – great work getting that set up, Austin!

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  1. 13 Responses to “Book Review: Whose Freedom?”

  2. By Austin on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Thanks for the plug, Jim, and great review.

    One thing that I’m going to be talking to Lakoff about on Friday is the role of blogs and the grassroots in affecting societal frames.  I’m hoping he can provide some insight into the question of whether progressive blogs spend too much time preaching to the choir by suggesting ways to make our arguments more attractive to those who might not share our views yet.

    That said, what do you want to know?  I’m going to email him before the interview with a sampling of discussion points from this post and other tidbits I’ve found around the web.  I’d be particularly interested in any cases people can cite of Democrats talking in conservative frames, conservative blogs that demonstrate those conservative frames, or issues facing candidates this year and how to frame them.

     Post your thoughts here or email me at thestuffedtiger at gmail dot com.

    Thanks again, Jim.
     

  3. By Steve O on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    I’d be interested to know what he thinks about the “Stay the Course” campaign we have been trying to get up and running. Is it in line with his thoughts on reframing liberty and freedom or is it headed down the wrong track?

    I’d also be interested in know what his general thoughts are on the blogs. Are they a revolution in the maikng or just one big hot air balloon?

    Great review Jim, have not read the book but I most certainly intend to pick it up next week if not sooner.

  4. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    One point I would like Dr. Lakoff to explain: he addresses a bunch of contentious issues with depth and thought, but I think he skimped on gun control.  He did a decent job explaining why a “strict father” perspective would want the freedom to be armed and capable of defending his own household.  Yet on the other side of the equation, all he offers is the statement that we progressives are losing “freedom from the threat of those possessing and able to use deadly weapons, except for those exercising legitimate police powers” and another reference or two treating it as a given that only the police should have guns.

    I am a progressive and a strong supporter of many progressive organizations, and I think I also consistently espouse progressive values.  My wife and I are also responsible gun owners.  Neither of us has ever been in trouble with the law.  Neither of us has ever shot or threatened to shoot anyone, and we are not a threat to our neighbors or our community.  We obey the law; I have a concealed weapons permit and carry a pistol because when I was working in the prison system I was threatened more than once by gang members, but I went through all the legal requirements to get that permit and I don’t abuse it (i.e., I don’t carry my gun in places where it’s not allowed, such as restaurants that serve alcohol, schools, government buildings, anyplace posted, etc.)  I have a bunch of guns, all of which I obtained legally, including some that many would classify as assault weapons.  They, and all the ammo I have, are all locked inside safes in my house when I’m not carrying them. 

    We are meticulously careful in handling guns and are properly trained in their use.  We don’t drink or do recreational drugs, and wouldn’t shoot under the influence if we did.  We do our shooting at two legally sanctioned ranges, under safe conditions.  The data on gun crime shows that people with concealed carry permits are only about half as likely as the general public to commit crimes with guns, in fact, so I’m not an anomaly.

    I have no problem with the background check I have to go through each time I buy a gun.  I would have no problem with having to go through training, pass a test, and get a license to be able to buy or shoot a gun, the way I did to get my concealed carry permit - we do that with cars, why not?  But when someone tells me he considers my ownership of guns a threat and I shouldn’t be able to have them, I strongly disagree.  That smacks of the kind of strict-parent pre-emptive control that is much more neocon than progressive in its nature.  And taking away private ownership of guns has always been one of the steps totalitarian governments take in consolidating their power.

    There are two basic philosophies about liberties - one says that a person should be allowed to do something unless there is a good enough reason to stop him/her - “say yes unless you have to say no” - and the other says that a person shouldn’t be allowed to do something unless he/she can prove it should be allowed - “say no unless you have to say yes.”  I see no pressing reason why I should not be allowed to have my guns, and taking a progressive view of freedom, I shouldn’t have to prove that it’s okay for me to have them - someone who wants to take them away should have to prove I shouldn’t have them.  No one has offered me any such proof so far.

    I like to shoot - I’ve been shooting for fun for over thirty years now.  It’s a relaxing hobby and something my wife and I enjoy doing together.  Hitting a bullseye from hundreds of yards away brings me the same satisfaction that throwing a perfect strike might bring an avid bowler or shooting a 3-pointer and hitting nothing but net might a basketball player; the same satisfaction I got from breaking 40 minutes when I used to run 10Ks.

    I also consider having guns to be something I am entitled to do for my safety and that of my wife - all “strict father” thinking aside, the idea that the police in this city will keep us safe is a joke.  Their response time on the couple of occasions I’ve called them has been between 30 and 60 minutes - I know they’re overextended - and at least in this city (Albuquerque) the police have a well-earned reputation for being reckless and trigger-happy and at times acting like a gang themselves.  Let’s say their judgment and professionalism can’t be taken for granted.

    There is also the traditional argument - the fact that many who make it are nutcases doesn’t invalidate it; even a broken clock is right twice a day - that an armed citizenry is a defense against tyranny.  Things might have gone quite differently at Tienanmen Square if Chinese citizens had the same freedoms I have regarding owning guns.  Frankly, I fear this government’s ambitions as well as its incompetence and am not willing to trust it far enough to disarm myself.  I am not a survivalist, a McVeigh, or anything like that.  As I said, I’m a good citizen - I obey the laws, I pay my taxes, and I work to change the system from within.  But things have gone south in other times, other places, and it could happen here.  When I joined the Marine Corps thirty years ago, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  That oath is binding for life.

    On this issue, though not on any other that I noticed, it seems to me that Dr. Lakoff fell into the trap of buying into a common liberal position without thinking it through and applying it in way too generalized a way. I don’t think it has any logical basis that stands up to scrutiny. Keep criminals from buying or using guns, yes, if we can - but why me?

    So if you would, please place my position before Dr. Lakoff and let me know what he says.

    Thanks!

  5. By Paul Merda on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Essentially what this guy is saying is that the Dems need a damn good marketing firm that can help them appeal to the emotional side.  Sloganeering etc!!!  Advertising appeals to the emotional, so instead of being the pin-headed geeks that we are, we need to quit trying to appeal to people rational side and use cheap slogans and emotional marketing techniques.  It has worked so well for the right, why shouldn’t it work for the left…just have to frame it in a “nurturing” way….

    I feel cheap and dirty even suggesting it, but I think that’s where we go wrong, people in this country don’t think, and hell they don’t want to…so let’s quit trying :-( 

  6. By Tom Baker on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Great review LJ. I’ve read the book and thought it was fascinating. 

     I was a little dissapointed in his Free Market analysis. i agree with the fact that you have 45 million working low end jobs, but he seemed very dismissive of the wealth an oppotunity created by the market. There was a lot of personal bias in that section (much like gun control). It’s not that it was wrong, but it was just a bit shallow and one sided.

    Then again, I’m a free-market liberal, so of course my sensibilities were hurt. That’s our biggeest probelm as liberals - we see our own particular version as being “right” and often fight among ourselves. The right has the same divisions, but they toe the line better.

    Sheep always do.

     

  7. By ken grandlund on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    I’m going to have to pick this book up and read it. Great reveiw, my interest is piqued.

    Paul notes the dilema we on the progressive end are facing- by our own nature, we tend to rely on rational discourse and factual information instead of spin and manipulation and feelings. And yet the progressive cause(s), while resonating with a great many people at an individual level, seems to lose out in the polls. Granted, some amount of voting treachery exists to tilt the results to one side over the other, but that’s not enough to account for the consistent victory of neo-cons lately. Despite an electorate being in harmony with many progressive, and yes, liberal, notions, the right keeps pulling out victories.

    I guess I would like to know from Lakoff why that seems to be. Why do those folks who may instinctively side with progressive notions of helping each other fall under the spell of the right, even when it is clear that the right’s talking points are a bunch of bull? Even when the evidence of their performance denies those talking points so clearly?

  8. By Tom Harper on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    Sounds like a fascinating book and very insightful author.  And Paul is right — we need to start pushing those emotional buttons the way the Right has been doing for decades now.  It’s too bad that the election goes to the group who comes up with the most effective soundbites, instead of the group with the best ideas.  But that’s the way it is, and we need to adapt.

  9. By Jersey McJones on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    It is the empty, open-ended etomology of conservative “words” and the vacuus consumers of those words that together are the brick and mortar of the wall we progressives are beating our heads against today. 

    Please ask the good doctor this: 

    What sort of intellectual Judu shall we employ to throw the weight of these words against the users?

    “Freedom” - There are 13.5 million arrests in AMerica every year and at any given time there are over 2 million incarcerated people.  People who have “done their time” and “Served their debt to society” still lose their basic rights as citizens (to work, vote, etc).  Does not the libertarian wing of the Right see this, or do they feel that freedom is best left to the French?

    “Liberty” - To do what?  To steal?  To act like a slovenly idiot in public?  Again, the libertarians (small L), whom the GOP would not survive without, need a wake-up call.  Look at the folks at Reason (big L).  Look at what concerns them.  It’s not the “liberty” to get ahead in life, but the liberty to have profane bumper stickers presented on the public roads.  How do we get ”liberty” to be viewed as more than just trivial jargon?

    “Low taxes” - How low?  At what point do you raise them?  Who should pay what?  There’s a cultural athema that was first recognized (I wish I remember the book, I’m sure Dr Lakoff would recall) from the Civil War.  The Confederate soldiers had become convinced to fight for the right of the Confederate landholders (almost none of whom actually fought - sound familiar?) to hold slaves and run a pre-fascist state because “one day they may be landholders,” though the odds of that were slim to none because the landholders owned slaves and ran a pre-fascist state.  We hear the same thing today when regular working schlubs complain that the call for progressive taxes, from other working schlubs, on the wealthy are unethical in that someday they may be wealthy too.  It’s an intellectual Catch 22.  How do we break that imbecilic cycle?

    “Small government” - Again, how small?  Molecular?  Is a large police state okay?  Look at the IRS.  The IRS was one of, if not the most hated agencies in government.  Why?  Because it was one of the most effective and efficiant.  The Young Turks of the ‘94 “revolution” (it was only a 180 degree turn, though) saw to it that the IRS was gutted.  The Right rejoiced.  Now, a regular working schlub is far more likely to be auditted (even though, in the end, it costs more to do the audit then get the pittance of return) than a corporation and tax fraud is estimated in the tens of billions at least.  How do we get people to at least recognize that if you’re going to have to sustain a “necessary evil” at least do it right?

    I could go on, but my blood pressure is rising.

    I’ll read the book next week.  Sounds good.  Great writtenn review, by the way! 

    Ciao, JMJ  

  10. By Liberal Jarhead on Jul 11, 2006 | Reply

    As some people have mentioned here, we need to get better at marketing.  Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with marketing if you’re trying to sell people on something you sincerely believe is worthwhile and in their best interests, and as long as you’re transparent and willing to talk about how you’re doing it.  If we’re honestly doing the next right thing as best we can figure it out, we have nothing to hide from our target audience.

    The public as a whole has always been susceptible to sound-bite/bumper-sticker length messages over more complex ideas; they’re easier to deal with in the short term, even if they’re not realistic.  I read articles in magazines like American Heritage about political campaigns from the Revolutionary War on, and the same patterns of sloganeering and jingoism are always there.  So we need to boil our ideas down to their cores, the simple nuggets at their hearts.  Those would be about the principles we believe in.  George Lakoff did a great job of listing specific progressive principles and values in Don’t Think of an Elephant; with a list like that, it’s simple to tell people, “This is what we stand for.”  The items on the list are honestly progressive values, and they’re things that most people will see as common sense without having to think hard about them.

    The other key is repetition.  We see them using it, and they use it because it works - same reason we have to watch the same idiotic commercial on TV six times in an hour or two.  The way the human mind works, the more times we hear something, the more true it becomes to us, even if we know initially that it’s crap.  That’s a powerful tool that can be used for good or evil, not to be too melodramatic about it.  In psychotherapy, we use it in the form of positive affirmations we have people repeat to themselves over and over to change their belief systems about themselves, which in turn changes their behavior and their perceptions of the world and other people.

    So a simple message - sound bite or bumper sticker size - repeated again and again and again and again until everyone has it memorized; then another message, if possible building on the first; and so it goes.

    They have the advantage of a 40-year headstart and control of all the branches of the government. (is that all?)  But we have the advantage of the evidence in front of the public’s eyes every day, when they see that they are having to struggle harder to provide for their families even though their employers’ productivity is up thanks to them; when they see that the wars in the middle east are being fought mainly by the poor and that the only beneficiaries in sight here are the contractors and energy companies; when they keep seeing news stories telling them that their government lies to them, spies on them, claims the right to lock them up without due process or recourse to the law, and generally puts their interests behind those of the wealthy, the corporate world, and foreign allies of convenience; and demonstrates reckless disregard for the impact on their children and grandchildren of the deficit, global warming, and the alienation of much of the world.  All those things are powerful arguments for progressive change, if we can put the right frames in front of the public seeing them.

  11. By windspike on Jul 12, 2006 | Reply

    I have a question that you could ask - why is it that the attention span of the average american cannot be increased rather than shunk  to sound bite lenght?  The fundamental problem with rhetorical arguments is that it takes longer than a sound bite to prove that the GOP talking heads have hung themselves in rhetorical suicide over and again.  We need abbreviated catch phrases that have the same affect, no?

  12. By Dave on Jul 12, 2006 | Reply

    Liberal Jarhead makes some very good points about “Gun Control,” and what responsible gun owners are/should be like.  He commented that Tianamen Square might have been different had the Chinese citizens had the same access to guns.  My question is the following: Wasn’t there a law or statute in Iraq that stated that every house either could or should have an AK47 in it?  If so, that didn’t stop them from being taken over by an evil dictator.

     

    My apologies in advance if I am perpetuating an urban legend. 

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