Social Security and Medicare are Earned
by Oly Mike
George Lakoff has a lot to teach the left about communicating with the electorate. Here's a bit from something up at Opednews today thanks to efforts of Seattleite Don Smith, with link to the Lakoff piece at Common Dreams a couple of weeks ago. Lakoff reminds that all thought is physical, that thought arises in neural networks and that energizing a neural network for a centrist presentation on competitiveness necessarily inhibits a neural network that might be energized when a person makes a compassionate presentation about the need that society provide for the disabled, the frail, the mentally ill, the aged, orphans and widows.
It isn't just that we manipulate the audience when we speak, we manipulate ourselves (too much of that will cause you to go blind, so word to the wise on that). And I mean manipulate in a good sense, in the sense that people are moved, that people connect with the message.
I don't know how or why the right has become so much better at messaging than the left, but I think of cats and ducks. You can get your ducks in a row, but you always have to herd cats, they will not get in a row for you. Maybe conservatives are ducks. Lots of straight line potential in this paragraph. Comments are on, so I leave it to the witty to have fun and play nice with the ducks.
Here's a bit from the Lakoff article:
Because we think with our brains, all thought is physical. Our moral and political worldviews are realized as brain circuits with strong synapses. If you have two conflicting worldviews, you have two brain circuits that are mutually inhibitory, so that when one is activated, it is strengthened and the other is shut off and weakened. When a worldview applies to a given issue, there is a neural binding circuit linking the worldview circuit to that issue circuit in such a way that the issue is understood in terms of that worldview. The right language will activate that that issue as understood via that worldview. Using that language strengthens that worldview.
As Eric Cantor said, "We want America to be competitive ... When we hear 'invest' from anyone in Washington, to me that means more spending. ... The investment needs to occur in the private sector." Mitch McConnell had the same reaction, "Any time they want to spend, they call it investment."
Conservatives have made the word "spending" their own. It has come to mean wasteful or profligate spending, as if the government just takes money out of your pocket and wastes is on people who don't deserve it. "Spending" as used by conservatives, really mean the use of money to help people. Since conservatives believe in individual, not social, responsibility, they think it is immoral to use one person's tax money on helping someone who should be helping himself. The word "spending" has been used that way so often, that for many people, it always evokes that conservative frame, and hence strengthens that frame and worldview that makes sense of it. When Democrats use the world "spending" assuming falsely that it is a neutral economic term, they are helping conservatives.
Conservatives are trained not to use the language of liberals. Liberals are not so trained. Liberals have to learn not to stick to their own language, and not move rightward in language use. Never use the word "entitlement' - social security and medicare are earned. Taking money from them is stealing. Pensions are delayed payments for work already done. They are part of contracted pay for work. Not paying pensions is taking wages from those who have earned them. Nature isn't free for the taking. Nature is what nurtures us, and is of ultimate value - human value as well as economic value. Pollution and deforestation are destroying nature. Privatization is not eliminating government - it is introducing government of our lives by corporations, for their profit, not ours. The mission of government is to protect and empower all citizens, because no one makes it on their own. And the more you get from government, the more you owe morally. Government is about "necessities" - health, education, housing, protection, jobs with living wages, and so on - not about "programs." Economic success lies in human well-being, not in stock prices, or corporate and bank profits.
These are truths. We need to use language that expresses those truths.
Come on, cats, get with it. Stealing from Social Security and pension systems to give bonuses and tax breaks to investment bankers is positively unAmerican.