Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lakoff derides "disaster messaging"

George Lakoff
This is the start of George Lakoff's recent piece in the Huffington Post, called "Disaster Messaging":
Democrats are constantly resorting to disaster messaging. Here's a description the typical situation.
  • The Republicans outmessage the Democrats. The Democrats, having no effective response, face disaster: They lose politically, either in electoral support or failure on crucial legislation.
  • The Democrats then take polls and do focus groups. The pollsters discover that extremist Republicans control the most common ("mainstream") way of thinking and talking about the given issue.
  • The pollsters recommend that Democrats move to the right: adopt conservative Republican language and a less extreme version of conservative policy, along with weakened versions of some Democratic ideas.
  • The Democrats believe that, if they follow this advice, they can gain enough independent and Republican support to pass legislation that, at least, will be some improvement on the extreme Republican position.
  • Otherwise, the pollsters warn, Democrats will lose popular support -- and elections -- to the Republicans, because "mainstream" thought and language resides with the Republicans.
  • Believing the pollsters, the Democrats change their policy and their messaging, and move to the right.
  • The Republicans demand even more and refuse to support the Democrats.
Read the whole piece here.


  1. This article made me think of a line from Steven Wright..." I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time."

    The irony of that article being unreadable is too much to bear. Who was it written for? I'm a believer, and I couldn't follow it. Less verbiage, stick with a central thought and give us non-academics a chance to process it before moving on to the next.

  2. Wow - my experience exactly. I skimmed, then revisited the article later, and still found myself skimming.

    I thought the best service I could do here would be to post the essence of what he wrote. The bullet points I quoted above won out, probably because they were distilled thoughts, but more probably because they were at the top.