Tuesday, February 24, 2009

George Lakoff and the Obama Code

Fivethirtyeight posted a special article written by George Lakoff and submitted to fivethirtyeight, entitled George Lakoff on the Obama Code.

Lakoff was the progressive who caught onto the way Republicans were winning the framing debate some years back and helped educate the left by explaining to us that we can't keep debating on their turf. A prime example of that is the term, "tax relief." Using the terms suggests that taxes are an affliction, so reducing them is always then a good thing. There are many other examples as well in which we stumble into their way of framing things (i.e. 'global warming controversy,' or 'war against terror.') It's like becoming the visiting team every time we debate with Republicans. That's not to say that we can't win a debate (sometimes the visiting team wins the game) but as long as we are debating using their language we are already starting at a disadvantage.

So Lakoff has analyzed the 'Obama code,' and discusses how we are likely to see things work, and the meaning of what Obama says, prior to tonight's speech. I won't repost the whole thing here (since Nate Silver is a guy I respect and he deserves credit for being selected by Lakoff as the outlet for this insightful article) but if you follow the link it's worth a read.


shrimplate said...

I've read a couple of Lakoff's books. He's right on. Change the frames, win the debates.

sandyh said...

Lakoff seems to be saying that creating empathy and circulating progressive values among the majority of Americans who have been always receptive to them are key.

His main point seems to be that progressives have not built a communications system that delivers our message even when it is properly framed. Makes you wonder why Democrats like Rahm Emanuel want to scrap the 50 state strategy when it worked so well for Obama who used Lakoff's formula.

Perhaps if more of our own people would bond for the common good we could attract the kind of funding and talent to build such a oommunications system?

Was anybody heard anything new about who will be appointed as the HED Secretary? Bringing Dr. Dean into the fold might help heal some wounds and get the ball rolling?

We have loads of skilled people at our finger tips but always seem to revert back to arguments about style pr policy over improving execution. It's time to be a little more pragmatic?

Eli Blake said...

Unfortunately, Sandy, it appears that Obama will choose Kathleen Sebelius.

Now, she is certainly qualified, but I believe that it is a strategically terrible choice-- it hands the Republicans back a Senate seat which they probably would have lost in 2010 but will instead win next election, and I don't think she has the knowlege of how Congress works that would enable her to push the Obama health care agenda through.

Some days it almost seems as if he is trying to guarantee that he won't succeed.