14 September 2011

The Burden of Persuasion: Why Rhetoric Matters

Safety is the Cootie Wootie.

"The mechanism of intimidation is framing, not just the use of words or slogans, but rather the changing of what voters take as right as a matter of principle. Framing is much more than mere language or messaging. A frame is a conceptual structure used to think with. Frames come in hierarchies. At the top of the hierarchies are moral frames. All politics is moral. Politicians support policies because they are right, not wrong. The problem is that there is more than one conception of what is moral. Moreover, voters tend to vote their morality, since it is what defines their identity. Poor conservatives vote against their material interests, but for their moral identity."


"To a large extent, Democrats don't understand this. They think that language is neutral and that reason works by logic. If you just tell people the facts and reason logically, everyone should be convinced. But they aren't, because language works by framing and by brain mechanisms. Framing is just the normal way people think and talk. Conservatives tend to understand this. They avoid using liberal language. They frame issues very carefully to fit their goals. Democrats need to do the same - avoid using conservative frames and instead frame the issues with their own values.


"We Americans care about our fellow citizens, we act on that care and build trust, and we do our best not just for ourselves, our families, and our friends and neighbors, but for our country. Americans are called upon to share an equal responsibility to work together to secure a safe and prosperous future for their families and nation.

The conservative consolidation of power violates this most basic of democratic principles. It replaces social and personal responsibility with personal responsibility alone. It approves of the government over our lives by corporations for their own profit, and hence sees government by, of and for the people as immoral and to be eliminated.

The conservative move to defund government is a means not an end. What conservatives really want is to run the country and the world on conservative principles: to control reproduction (no abortion); to control what is taught (no public education); to control religion (conservative Christianity); to control race and language (mass deportation of Hispanic immigrants); to guarantee cheap labor (no unions); to continue white domination (no affirmative action); to continue straight domination (no gay marriage); to control markets (eliminate regulation, taxation, unions, worker rights, and tort cases); to control transportation (privatize freeways); to control elections (institute bars to voting)."
George Lakoff, 9/11: Intimidation by Framing.


Anonymous said...

Lakoff's "thinking" is an exercise in self-fettering through partisan pissery.

It makes sense only if you assume Us vs Them is the ultimate struggle, and the next-coming Elephant vs Donkey skirmish the final battle in that struggle.

Lakoff is completely useless outside the un-thinking mode of pure partisanship. And even within the mode, he's useless unless you first agree with him that The Mighty Donkle are superior in all ways.

He needs to be retired before he injures another several thousand minds.

Jim H. said...

It makes sense in politics. As of now, elections are still being held, and there's a way to win them and a way to not. If that's what you mean by partisan pissery, you could be right.

I don't exactly know what the ultimate struggle is. I know it isn't the one we grew up with: to wit, the US v. USSR. I'm not sure what world commercialism is in an existential struggle with.

I tend to agree that Donks are closer to my understanding of the way things ought to be run than Phants. Do they piss me off? Sure. Are they lackeys? Ok. Pussies? Yup. Unprincipled? At times. Obtuse? Mmm-hmm. I could go on. I don't find them, on the whole, as authoritarian as their opponents. To me, a child of the 20th century, that tips the scales.

Superior in some ways does not equate with superior in all ways.

Lakoff understands frames, rhetoric, and political discourse better than I do. And I suspect if the corporatists in the dem party want to defeat the corporatist death eaters in the rep party, they could do worse than listen to him.

Frances Madeson said...

Hmmm. This is very important. But I'm thinking you shouldn't just write about it, but make it into a one-man show and tour it. Especially in high schools and colleges to reach young people. It's something I've been toying with for the last year or so and this may just inspire me to work on it. A 50 minute dramatic and funny presentation possibly with aromatherapy effects--whatever works! Anyway, I think you'd be a natural. You could weave in your thyrophobia story--how you tried to persuade yourself to JUMP. Take the leap!