Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lakoff on the lessons of Wisconsin

A recent theme is the materiality of communication and its propagation through media. Lakoff teams up with Wehling in offering this preview of their new e-book on how to communicate liberal ideas and counteract the conservative narrative. As noted earlier, liberals focus on policy issues, as if a rational argument's truth value were enough to affect the voting public. Whereas conservatives focus on their moral vision, which reaches deeper into our psyche based on emotion, as well as communication tactics and vehicles to reinforce their meme. Liberals need to learn from them and communicate and propagate their moral vision as effectively, while simultaneously exposing the truths hidden by the conservative version.

While conservatives emphasize private enterprise and individual merit liberals need to frame the debate in showing the value of caring for others inherent in government and unions, rather than how they enhance individual rights and benefits. The latter make things better for everyone. For example, government roads and infrastructure make it possible for private enterprise to transport and distribute goods. Public education trains people to work effectively in private enterprise. Policeman and courts enforce laws securing private property. Unions ability to collective bargain raise the standard of living for all workers. All of these public goods are hidden truths to conservatives, who only see government and unions as an impediment to self interest.

A liberal moral vision must therefore, like conservatives, invest heavily in "think tanks, framing specialists, training institutes, booking agencies and media, funded by wealthy [benefactors]." And these values and hidden truths must be reinforced every day in the media, predominantly TV. All of this is the material ground game of communication and the money it takes to get it out there. This is where liberals need to invest what diminished money they have left in order to generate more votes and hence more money to continue to reinforce their moral message. I only hope they get this message before it's too late.

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