For decades, the Radical Right and the Republican Party have controlled the national dialogue through clever use of loaded terms and pejorative concepts. They have so effectively managed their takeover of our language that many on the Left now unconsciously accept The Right’s definitions and biases. In a fascinating article, George Lakoff explains how that process works, how it corrupts the thinking of even sophisticated political leaders, how it constantly redefines our political process in favor of Right-wing Reactionary viewpoints, and what we on the Left must do about it.
“…progressives need to build a communication system of their own to (1) express the values they really believe in, to (2) to communicate the truth, (3) to use their own values-based language to show the moral significance of those truths, and (4) avoid communicating conservative beliefs they do not hold, especially by avoiding the language of conservatism.”
The article is long and detailed, but more than worthwhile. It is a comprehensive exposition on the single most critical element for understanding why the Right has been able to dominate the country, and what the Left needs to accomplish if we are to educate the Muddled Middle and stave off the colossal disaster that Reactionary politics and policies are leading us towards.
Instead of complaining that some leader somewhere needs to do something, we on the Left need to seize the initiative and do something ourselves. If we are as clever and educated and articulate – and as correct – as we claim to be, we should be able to put those assets to use in a positive way. Whining and moaning and grousing are fine for working off frustration, I’m the first to accept that I do them a lot, but they do very little to move public opinion in a positive, progressive direction. If we on the blogospheric Left spent one-eightieth as much energy on developing and promoting positive concepts as we do on negative rants, we and the country and the world would all be far better off.