George Lakoff

Aaron Swartz posted a comment to a December post about Bush vs. Dean. Both look to win by picking up independents. Aaron suggested I check out Shorter this post of his about George Lakoff. He and I will have to agree to disagree. Aaron blogs:

Conservatives appeal to people’s belief in a strict father. And this explains why all of George W. Bush’s actions, so hated by progressives, make perfect sense to conservatives.

Of course we have to stifle debate! A strict father allows no backtalk. There is evil in the world, we need to give Father a free hand to take care of it. Poor people are poor because they have no discipline. They need to learn self-reliance, not to feed from the government’s hand. But rich people are rich because they are smart and deserving. They should be free to do as they like.

Aaron contrasts that with Howard Dean’s view:

Progressives think of the world in terms of a nurturing mother who helps people achieve greatness. . . . .

And you can see it in Dean’s campaign rhetoric: he wants you to “take your country back”, he wants policies that “reflect America’s values”, it’s “your campaign”. But for all Dean and Trippi’s intelligence, they have something of a tin ear for rhetoric. When they say it’s “your campaign” it sounds like pandering, not sincere. (Perhaps “our campaign” would be better.) And “social justice” sounds like some sort of government giveaway (try “fairness” and “equality”). And just look at Dean! He rolls up his sleeves and takes a stand. He’s tough, he’s forceful, but he’s fair. He’s the fighting doctor, out to fix what ails America.

It’s interesting pop psychology, but I’ll disagree. I think the real contrast is that Bush is about empowering individuals and Dean is about empowering groups. Bush sees the world as individuals able to better themselves with government assistance. Dean sees the world as groups unable to better themselves without government involvement.

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Erick Erickson

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