Learning from campaigns, writing on issues
George Lakoff offers a clear opinion on an important aspect of how people learn from election and media presentations. There are a lot of examples of reporting and the concept is clear enough. However, it is an entirely different proposition when applied to real life in posts or comments…for instance, how posts are written, for what audience, and what sort of learning is actually being encouraged:
The Republican presidential campaign is not just about the presidential race. It is about using conservative language to strengthen conservative values in the brains of voters – in campaigns at all levels from Congress to school boards. Part of the Republican strategy is to get liberals to argue against them, repeating conservative language. There is a reason I wrote a book called Don’t Think of an Elephant! When you negate conservative language, you activate conservative ideas and, hence, automatically and unconsciously strengthen the brain circuitry that characterizes conservative values.
As I was writing the paragraphs above, the mail came. In it was material from Public Citizen (an organization I admire) promoting Single Payer Health Care (which I agree with) by arguing against right-wing lies about it. In big, bold type the lies were listed: Single payer is socialized medicine. Single payer will lead to rationing, like in Canada. Costs will skyrocket under single Payer. And so on. After each one, came the negative: Wrong. And then in small, unbolded type, the laundry lists of policy truths. Public Citizen was unconsciously promoting the conservative lies by repeating them in boldface and then negating them.
The same naiveté about messaging, public discourse, and effects on brains is now showing up in liberal discussions of the Republican presidential race. Many Democrats are reacting either with glee (“their field is so ridiculously weak and wacky.” – Maureen Dowd), with outrage (their deficit-reduction proposals would actually raise the deficit – Paul Krugman), or with incredulity (“Why we’re debating a woman’s access to birth control is beyond me.” – Debbie Wasserman Schultz). Hendrik Hertzberg dismissed the ultra-conservatives as “a kick line of clowns, knaves, and zealots.” Joe Nocera wrote that he hope Santorum would be the Republican candidate, claiming that he is so far to the right that he would be “crushed” – an “epic defeat,” “shock therapy” that would bring back moderate Republicans. Democrats even voted for Santorum in the Michigan primary on the grounds that he would be the weaker candidate and that it would be to the Democrats’ advantage if the Republican race dragged on for a long time.
I mention these liberals by name because they are all people I admire and largely agree with. I hope that they are right. And I hope that the liberal discourse of glee, scorn, outrage, incredulity, and support for the most radical conservative will actually win the day for Democrats at all levels. But, frankly, I have my doubts. I think Democrats need much better positive messaging, expressing and repeating liberal moral values – not just policies- uniformly across the party. That is not happening.
Lakoff is absolutely correct in pointing out that any repetition of misinformation is just that, a repetition. The negation of false ideas should occur by repetition of the truth, the correct idea, and be followed by noting that any alternative to the correct idea is a lie. Don’t repeat the lie, just point out the truth and emphasize that altrernatives to the truth are misleading and deceitful. If it is not the correct idea it is a lie.
For example, workers fund by way of direct contributions their own eventual retirement benefits through the Social Security program. Workers are tax payers, but the regular contributions that thye make to the Social Security system are not taxes. Those contributions are collected directly from their pay checks and an equal contribution is added by their employers. Look on the pay stub box that describes those deductions. It is labeled FICA, Federal Insurance Contribution Act. It’s a contribution that workers make throughout their work lives in order to become benefitiaries of that system.
Any other description of the Social Security system/program is a lie, a deception, an effort to distort. There is no other correct description of the worker’s retirement program that is administered by the federal government through the Social Security Administration. All other descriptions are lies provided by deceitful liars.
That’s how you address fallacious ideas. You don’t repeat the incorrect presentation. You repeat repeatedly that which is correct and then repeat that all other descriptions are deceptions.
The real problem is not with liberals repeating conservative lies and propaganda or a lack of having a positive message. The problem is the same one it’s been for the last 30+ years: most Americans are anti-science, anti-intellectual, facts-resistant, right-wing morons.
The fact that conservative blue collar white men in the Rust Belt and Deep South are *still* voting for candidates who want to de-regulate Wall Street and offshore manufacturing jobs *even more* is proof of that. More proof comes from conservative women who keep voting for candidates who think they are “sluts” for using birth control, murderers for having abortions even after rape or incest, and want to defund *any* healthcare program that might conceivably benefit them. Then there are the “get your government hands off my Medicare! Tea baggers, farmers receiving massive corn and ethanol subsidies who want to “end welfare” (for other people of course), religious fanatics who want a state mandated religion (theirs, of course) and an end to the First Amendment, etc. etc.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
Pity that Lakoff cannot see the elephant in his own room. The master of messaging continues to dignify these right-wingers with the appellation “consevative”. This lazy habit concedes an honorable defintion to a bevy of “knaves, zealots and clowns”. I submit taht I am a true conservative, and i’m well to the left of most Dems.
We need a number of terms to call these people, from crypto-fascist to the non-pejorative right-winger.
yeah, i might be the same kind of conservative. when i use the labels i try to use them in a way that forced people to realize they don’t mean anything. of course i fail utterly. the whole point of labels is so people know which team you support so they know whether or not to agree with you.
the “Lakoff” problem is mostly that the Liars have a billion dollars to spend on lies, and they know how to do it. most of the people in this country do not even hear the “left” argument much less have it reinforce the “right” memes.
the other problem is that the “left” memes, where they are heard, tend to be the kind of thing that keeps you (us) from thinking about the people who fall for the right memes as honest, decent people who may be ill informed, but do have something important we need to be careful of.
it’s not so much that “I am not a slut” reinforces Rush’s rhetoric, it’s that it places the discourse into the sluts vs religious fanatics playground.. where no one wins except the Liars and those who want to keep “the right” and “the left” at each others throats while they quietly enslave us to their purposes.
you might be interested in this today on huffpost. it tells us that everything we talk about here is beside the point.
at least it tells me that “wall street” owns the government. and we have learned nothing from the last debacle. or the one before that. or the one before that.
Read the article Coberly. This is what struck out to me as it relates to this posting’s topic:
Perhaps the worst parts of the bill are those provisions that would allow “crowd-financing” exempt from the usual Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure requirements. A new venture could raise up to $1-2 million through internet solicitations, as long as no investor puts in more than $10,000 (section 301 of HR3606). The level of disclosure would be minimal and there would be no real penalties for outright lying. There would also be no effective oversight of such stock promotion – returning us precisely to the situation that prevailed in the 1920s.
The White House is reportedly taken with the idea of crowd-financing …
From a link in the article:
especially under Sarbanes-Oxley, have made it too hard and expensive for companies to go public,
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/11/BUPU1NIGVF.DTL
…especially under Sarbanes-Oxley, have made it too hard and expensive for companies to go public…
One provision, known as the IPO on-ramp, would let small and midsize companies go public without having to comply with some of those rules for up to five years.
But another provision would go the opposite direction: It would let companies stay private longer by dramatically increasing the number of shareholders a company can have before it has to file financial statements with the SEC.
Only 23 Dems voted against the bill.
thank you for doing what i should have done: given some idea what the article was about instead of asking you to blindly follow a link on my say so.
i don’t understand what relation you see in the article to this post re repeating the bad guy memes…
but just to be a little clearer about what i mean: we got to the Great Recession by de-regulation. Now they want more of it. There never seems to be a reason to give up a good lie just because it has been shown to be a lie. The people didn’t understand it in the first place, and the Congress is paid to vote for it… as long as it pays to vote for it.
Yes, my mistake as to post relationship. I was thinking I was at the Fiduciary posting. Still, the title of the bill is a good example of what Lakoff is talking about.