Ten Points for Democracy Activists
By George Lakoff, George Lakoff's Website 12 February 17
1 – To understand the basic issues, read “A Minority President”: https://georgelakoff.com/2016/11/22/a-minority-president-why-the-polls-failed-and-what-the-majority-can-do
2 – Know the difference between framing and propaganda: Frames are mental structures used in thought; every thought uses frames. Every word in every language is defined relative to a mental structure — a frame. Frames, in themselves, are unavoidable and neutral. Honest framing is the use of frames you believe and that are used to express truths. Propaganda expresses lies that propagandists know are lies for the sake of political or social advantage.
3 – Hold Republicans accountable. Trump is dominating the media, partly to establish his authority, but mainly to divert attention and provide cover to Republican leaders. Keep focused on Republican actions. Minimize publicizing Trump — his image, his name, his tweets.
4 – Focus attention on substance, not sideshows. Trump’s attacks on freedom, democracy, and the innocent matter more than his tweets. Positively and strongly reframe his pre-emptive framing (see tweet diagram).
5 – Focus on democracy and freedom. In a government by, for, and of the people, there is, or should be, no distinction between the public and the government. The consequences are:
Empathy: government should care about, and for, the public;
Transparency: government should inform the public truthfully;
Freedom and Opportunity: the private depends on public resources, both for private enterprise and private life. For example, if you’re not educated, you’re not free. If you have no health care, you’re not free. If you’re impoverished, you lack opportunity.
Republicans are destroying all of these by:
Removing “regulations,” which are public protections;
Imposing gag rules and budget cuts on government agencies removes transparency;
Privatizing education, protection, communication, infrastructure, nature; etc. are attacks on freedom)
6 – Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it out, on the “big four” non-partisan political fact-checkers—Politifact, Factcheck.org, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, and Snopes.com. Subscribe to real news!
7 – Understand the brain’s politics: All ideas are physical, embodied in neural circuitry. The more the circuitry is activated, the stronger the circuitry gets and the more deeply the ideas are held. Worldviews are complex neural circuits fixed in the brain. People can only understand what fits the neural circuitry in their brains. Real facts can be filtered out by worldviews. “Alternative facts” are lies — falsehoods that follow from ideologies that are fixed, that define one’s identity and so are taken as ‘higher truths.”
8 – Remember: We’re the POWERFUL American Majority. No more helpless/hopeless talk. Anger, fear and cynicism benefit Trump’s GOP. Remember: Don’t think of an elephant! Don’t use Republican language, or repeat their positions, even to negate them. Frame using ideas you believe and real facts that are contextualized and morally framed. Avoid isolated facts and numbers. The best resistance is positive persistence.
9- Be positive: frame all issues from a progressive moral viewpoint. Take the viewpoint of the public good, not corporate profiteering. Take the viewpoint of the impoverished and weak, not the rich and powerful. Take the viewpoint of preservation, not the destruction of nature.
10 – Join the Citizens’ Communication Network: until it is officially functioning, you can unofficially join by following me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/George-Lakoff-Official-165643503477608/) and Twitter (@GeorgeLakoff) for regular thoughts and updates.
Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition
by Jordan Greenhall
In 2015, I took a swing at assessing the shape and state of our global challenges. Looking back, that essay is still well worth a read, but it is high time for an update.
While many things have changed in the world in the past two years, 2016 saw what looks like a phase transition in the political domain. While the overall phenomenon is global in scale and includes Brexit and other movements throughout Europe, I want to focus specifically on the victory of the “Trump Insurgency” and drill down into detail on how this state change will play out.
I use John Robb’s term “Trump Insurgency” here to highlight the fact that the election of 2016 was not an example of “ordinary politics”. Anyone who fails to understand this is going to be making significant errors. For example, the 2016 election is not comparable to the 2000 election (e.g., merely a “close” election) nor to the 1980 election (e.g., an “ideological transition” election). While it is tempting to compare it to 1860, I’m not sure that is a good match either.
In fact, as I go back and try to do pattern matching, the only real pattern I can find is the 1776 “election” (AKA the American Revolution). In other words, while 2016 still formally looked like politics, what is really going on here is a revolutionary war. For now this is war using memes rather than bullets, but war is much more than a metaphor.
This war is about much more than ideology, money or power. Even the participants likely do not fully understand the stakes. At a deep level, we are right in the middle of an existential conflict between two entirely different and incompatible ways of forming “collective intelligence”. This is a deep point and will likely be confusing. So I’m going to take it slow and below will walk through a series of “fronts” of the war that I see playing out over the next several years. This is a pretty tactical assessment and should make sense and be useful to anyone. I’ll get to the deep point last — and will be going way out there in an effort to grasp “what is really going on”. I’ll definitely miss wildly, but with any luck, the total journey will be worth the time. read more