After another Bush win (although events in Ohio may challenge that), progressives, liberals and Democrats desperately need all the help they can get to regroup and get their mojo on. Thanks to author George Lakoff, they now have that help, and it is powerpacked with essential information about how to take back the political dialogue from the conservative right by using the very tools the right uses – language framing and articulating values.
Don’t Think of an Elephant begins with a foreword by the hero of the progressive movement, Howard Dean, and an introduction by Don Hazen (of the hugely popular progressive news site, Alternet.org) and presents readers with some enlightening and usable techniques for reframing the debate over political and moral issues that have long since been the bane of the left. By using the same techniques the conservatives use, the left can redominate the playing field with the media and the public, proposing their values and beliefs in the same effective framework that the “other side” has been so successful at.
Lakoff, considered one of the most influential progressive thinkers, provides real documented research from language experts and the folks at the Rockridge Institute, a progressive think-tank devoted to framing issues, and offers examples galore of how the hot-button issues can be reframed by use of proper verbage in order to better reflect the progressive stance in the eyes of the public and the media. This powerful yet small book is deceptively simple in its belief that language is everything, providing numerous examples of just how the right wing has known this fact and made powerful use of it for the last forty years. Now, according to Lakoff, the progressive and independent left-of-center can learn how to use those same tools and win back the dialogue over everything from abortion to war with Iraq to Social Security to protecting the environment to human rights to workplace laws and more.
Because reframing literally shapes public perception, there is really nothing more critical to the left right now than mastering the art of knowing exactly what values they represent and how to frame the debate over those values in the public arena so that others can relate and identify. Lakoff’s book should be purchased and read immediately by anyone eager to return sanity and common sense to politics, as well as those who seek to spread the progressive values of truth, justice, fair trade, equality, a healthy environment, religious freedom and a strong workforce.
Don’t Think of an Elephant is sure to be showing up in massive numbers at meeting halls and house events all over the country as progressives struggle to unify their messages and regain their majority voice on the political stage. Using the exercises and ideas presented in this book, that voice will no doubt be empowered and grow stronger as more and more people learn to master the art of framing and reassert the traditional American values that progressives, not conservatives, have long stood for but have as of yet failed to be identified with.