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George Lakoff
Works at University of California, Berkeley
Attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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George Lakoff

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Daily Kos Article: #Democratic Strategies Lost Big. Here’s an alternative.
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Your article is most welcomed.  As always, we see things pretty much the same.  However, I am bothered by your tendency to regard to the democratic Party and inherently Progressive.  It is my premiss that the party lacks much of what makes own a Progressive, and has  for many years.
Following is my latest version of "Progressives are not specifically Democrats".

A large part of those with liberal leanings can be described, for the most part, as Progressives; not know so, yet.   At those times I’ve succeeded in getting non or reluctant eligible voters to talk with me for extended periods of time, most come to this realization on their own.  The reason these folks are so reluctant of vote Democratic is that they feel abandon and betrayed by a party that should be a natural fit for them.  They come to realize that the Democratic Party, despite claims of being Progressive, persistently falls well short of the mark; hence, feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

For the Democratic Party to have any chance of fully activating their natural base, they must stop treating the Progressive Movement as an interloper, fully embracing them as their long lost soul.  ( Here you speak of the OLD Progressives:  I'm talking REALLY OLD)  The Democratic Party will remain a shell without a fully functional heart until they do so.  As things stands, it is an insult to all true blood Progressives to have the Democratic Party place the Progressive mantel upon themselves, WITHOUT EARNING IT.  A very cursory review of their ranks would suffice in revealing the hollowness of such a claim.  The House Progressive Caucus can provide many an example of this phenomenon.  

As far as framing goes, seek out the guidance of acolytes of linguist George Lakoff.  My reading of his basic premiss is that there are underlying commonalities of function and aspiration that are strongly nurturant, accessible and for all practical purposes, to be found in the heart of all humankind (my own sentiment for most of my life).  If one speaks to that common heart, while avoiding the pitfalls of conservative issue phrasing, one can tap into our basic yearning for a kinder world.  One where all awaken each day to great hopes and possessing little reason to fear ones own kind.  In other, unavoidable, words, Give them all a REAL dog in the hunt.

Of course there will always be those unavoidables we must remain vigilant of.  Think we can handle that?  
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George Lakoff

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How Brains Think- FLTAL'14
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Surprisingly I have found big coincidence with own ideas, spoken from another science. That's quite good for my work...
Thank you very much, +George Lakoff !
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George Lakoff

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New Article in the Guardian.
The books interview: How the progressives have got it wrong and if they don't start to get it right, the conservatives will maintain the upperhand. By Zoe Williams
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George Lakoff

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UC Berkeley researcher and cognitive linguist riffs on "freedom" and other hot-button words for sustainability communicators
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George Lakoff

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Democratic Strategies Lost Big. Here’s Why and How to Fix It.

http://georgelakoff.com/2014/11/13/democratic-strategies-lost-big-heres-why-and-how-to-fix-it/

It is time to shine a light on the perpetually losing strategies used by Democrats, and particularly on the Democratic infrastructure that promotes those strategies.

I am asking whether the old strategies can be separated from the community of strategists, so that new strategies can be adopted by that community that are authentic, moral, and fully general.

The strategists form an infrastructure that all Democrats have come to depend on—candidates, elected officials, Democrats in government, and citizens who align, or might align, either morally or practically with progressive policies. This well-funded, and well-connected strategic infrastructure includes public relations firms, pollsters, consultants, researchers, trainers, communication specialists, speechwriters, and their funders.

Democrats depend on this expensive infrastructure. The strategists seem to assume that their strategies are natural and obvious, the best that can be done. It is time to look closely at these strategies and question them. The same mistakes, if they are mistakes, should not be repeated.

You probably noticed some of these strategies during the 2014 election:

• Direct your strategy to the election, rather than to changing how Americans understand what Democrats are and to changing day-to-day political discourse. In reality, it is the day-to-day discourse changes that most affect elections and move our politics over time.

• Use demographic categories to segment the electorate, categories from the census (race, gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, income, zip code), as well as publicly available party registration. This does not include segmentation for conservative and progressive moral worldviews, which can be done with the right questions..

• Assume uniformity across the demographic categories. Poll on which issues are “most important,” e.g., for women (or single women), for each minority group, for young people, and so on. This separates the issues from one another and creates “issue silos.” In reality, issues are systemically related via moral worldviews.

• Assume language is neutral and that the same poll questions will have the same meaning for everyone polled. In reality, language is defined relative to conceptual frames. And the same words can be “contested,” that is, they can have opposite meanings depending on one’s moral values.

• Assume that people vote on the basis of material self-interest. Design different messages to appeal to different demographic groups. In reality, poor conservatives, as well as rich liberals, will vote against their material interests when they identify with a candidate and his or her values. Values trump issues.

• In polling, apply statistical methods to the answers given in each demographic group. This will impose a “bell curve” in the results. The bell curve will impose a “middle” in each case. The middle may well be illusory, given the wide separation in worldviews. This is shown in biconceptualism research.

• Assume that most voters are in the middle imposed by the bell curve. Suggest that candidates and elected officials move to the middle. If their beliefs are on the left of the “middle,” they should still move to the right to be where the bell curve claims that most voters are. This will be helping conservatives, by supporting their beliefs. And your candidate may be saying things Democrats don’t believe. Your candidate will become Republican-lite. Voters at least some conservative values will go for real Republicans, not Repiblicans-lite.

• Check the polls to see how popular the present Democratic president is; if he is not popular, design your message to dissociate your candidate from the president. This will reinforce the unpopularity of the president. When members of his own party disown him, voters will come to think he should be disowned and so should the party he leads.

• Attack your opponents as being “extremists” when they hold views typical of the far right. If voters happen to share any of those views, you will be attacking those voters as extremists, even if that are partly progressive. Your opponents will be seen as courageous, standing up for what they believe. You will be helping your opponents.

• Attack your candidate’s opponent for getting money from rich corporations or individuals. This will help your opponent among Republicans (and some Democrats) who respect the values of the wealthy and successful.

• Argue against your opponents by quoting them, using their language and negating that language. In reality, negating a frame reinforces the frame, as in the sentence “Don’t think of an elephant!” This practice will mostly reinforce the views of your opponent.

Such strategies miss the opportunity to present an overriding moral stand that fits the individual issues, while saying clearly what ideals Democrats stand for as Democrats. There happens to be such an overriding ideal that most Democrats authentically believe in.

Why is this important?

First: Because all politics is moral. Voters vote for what they see as right. Conservatives and progressives have almost opposite ideas as to what is right. In candidates, voters look for people who have what they see as the right character, people who will do, and stand up for, what they see as right.

Second: Progressive and conservatives have very different understandings of democracy. For progressives empathy is at the center of the very idea of democracy. Democracy is a governing system in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and work through their government to provide public resources for all. In short, in a democracy, the private depends on the public.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) says it out loud. If you have a business it depends on public resources: roads, bridges, the Interstate highway system, sewers, a water supply, airports and air traffic control, the Federal Reserve, a patent office, public education for your employees, public health, the electric grid, the satellite communications, the Internet, and more. You can’t run a business without these. Say it out loud: The private depends on the public.

The same holds true of individuals, who depend on public resources like clean air, clean water, safe food and products, public safety, access to education and health care, housing, employment — as well as everything listed above.

These public resources provide necessary freedoms. In fact, most progressive issues are freedom issues, such as:

• Voting: Without the ability to vote in free elections, you are not free.

• Health: If you get sick and don’t have health care, you are not free.

• Education: Without education, you lack the knowledge and skills to earn a decent living or be aware of the possibilities of life, and      are therefore not free.

• Women: If you are denied control over your body, you are not free.

• Marriage: If you are in love and denied the ability to marry publicly, you are not free.

• Vast income inequality: When most economic gains go to the wealthiest of the wealthy, and not those who did the work, then most    working people are not free.

• Race: When you are treated with suspicion and disdain, you are not free.

• Corporate Control: When corporations control your life for their benefit, you are not free.

• Global Warming: As the glaciers melt, the rivers go dry, the seas rise up, the fish die, and you are overwhelmed by drought, violent    storms, floods, heat waves and freezes, you are not free.

And one more, which played a major role in the 2014 election:

• Fear: When you are emotionally gripped by whipped-up unreal fear, you are not free.

As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pointed out, freedom from fear is a vital freedom. In the 2014 election, conservatives played on fear—of ISIS and Ebola.

Progressives instinctively know all this, but few say it. Instead, they follow the old strategies and talk issue-by-issue, interest group by interest group, about isolated facts, policies, and programs.

Imagine if Americans understood instinctively that Democrats stand for the most basic of freedoms, that those freedoms arise from public resources provided by citizens like themselves who care about their fellow Americans as well as themselves. In my experience, that is overwhelmingly true. Why not say it? Proudly. Over and over.

And why not train ordinary progressive citizens who want to be spokespeople to speak out in their communities. The conservatives have been doing this for decades, by throughout the US and in 15 other countries, with scary success. They need to be countered.
It is time to shine a light on the perpetually losing strategies used by Democrats, and particularly on the Democratic infrastructure that promotes those strategies. I am asking whether the old str...
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Very good article and it's nice to know I'm not alone about need for massive changes to the Democratic Party, above and beyond campaigning practices and policies.  We met at the dinner after the WGN festival.  You seemed excited by my proposal to add a statement of intent after vision development and prior to framing.  Any further thoughts on that?

Following is my latest version of "Progressives are not specifically Democrats, nor the reverse".

A large part of those with liberal leanings can be described, for the most part, as Progressives; not know so, yet.   At those times I’ve succeeded in getting non or reluctant eligible voters to talk with me for extended periods of time, most come to this realization on their own.  The reason these folks are so reluctant of vote Democratic is that they feel abandon and betrayed by a party that should be a natural fit for them.  They come to realize that the Democratic Party, despite claims of being Progressive, persistently falls well short of the mark; hence, feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

For the Democratic Party to have any chance of fully activating their natural base, they must stop treating the Progressive Movement as an interloper, fully embracing them as their long lost soul.  ( Here you speak of the OLD Progressives:  I'm talking REALLY OLD)  The Democratic Party will remain a shell without a fully functional heart until they do so.  As things stands, it is an insult to all true blood Progressives to have the Democratic Party place the Progressive mantel upon themselves, WITHOUT EARNING IT.  A very cursory review of their ranks would suffice in revealing the hollowness of such a claim.  The House Progressive Caucus can provide many an example of this phenomenon.  

As far as framing goes, seek out the guidance of acolytes of linguist George Lakoff.  My reading of his basic premiss is that there are underlying commonalities of function and aspiration that are strongly nurturant, accessible and for all practical purposes, to be found in the heart of all humankind (my own sentiment for most of my life).  If one speaks to that common heart, while avoiding the pitfalls of conservative issue phrasing, one can tap into our basic yearning for a kinder world.  One where all awaken each day to great hopes and possessing little reason to fear ones own kind.  In other, unavoidable words, Give them all a REAL dog in the hunt.

Of course there will always be those unavoidables we must remain vigilant of.  Think we can handle that?  

NOTE: There are several typing errors in the article, but there is a very problematic one  in the twelfth paragraph, last sentence.  It's very unclear as to what is being stated.
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  • University of California, Berkeley
    Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics, 1972 - present
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George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1972. He previously taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan.
Education
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Mathematics & Literature, 1962
  • Indiana University
    PhD | Linguistics, 1966
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