Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

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It’s like Freaky Friday. Or Big. Or just pick your own the-world-is-topsy-turvy movie reference.

with one comment

While everybody’s buzzing today about where Obama went right and Hilary went wrong, I’ll throw out there something I heard from framing guru/cognitive linguist George Lakoff said at a New America Foundation talk on Monday. He commented that the traditional model of Democratic strategy is “interest based policy”—they find a group whose interest is not being served, find a way to serve it, and hope that group votes for them because of it.

Hilary Clinton’s campaign was run from this interest-based policy perspective (at least until Pennsylvania), but Obama ran a campaign much closer to traditional Republican models (like Regan)—a platform based on authenticity, identity, trust, values and communication.

Obama had better frames.

Its something liberal strategists have been lamenting for a few years now, of course (best put forth in Drew Westen’s wonderful, wonderful The Political Brain)—the fact that while Republicans tell cultural narratives, Democrats give policy proposals. But I liked the simplicity and conciseness of Lakoff’s description of it. He also pointed out “if you look at the attacks on Obama, they have been attacking those things,” they’ve been attacking his identity, authenticity and values, as opposed to his policies.

Anyway, it should be interesting to see how things play out now that Democrats, for the first time in many years, have a candidate who seems capable of creating a resonant and cohesive narrative for the party (or at least for his version of party) at the precise moment the GOP seems to be having a major identity crisis. I can’t decide if I look forward to or shutter at the thought of all the books about it come early 2009.

[P.S. Apparently Lakoff has a new bookThe Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain—which sounds kind of exactly like Westen’s The Political Brain.]

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Written by Elizabeth

June 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

One Response

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  1. George!

    Being too focused on identity/issue politics is a pretty common criticism of the Democratic party. I think I remember the authors of Crashing the Gate talking about it. But I haven’t been over to DailyKos in awhile- I hear the primary got things pretty inflamatory over there. Sweet Tinkerbell, am I glad this primary is over.

    erinelizabeth

    June 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm


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It’s like Freaky Friday. Or Big. Or just pick your own the-world-is-topsy-turvy movie reference.

with one comment

While everybody’s buzzing today about where Obama went right and Hilary went wrong, I’ll throw out there something I heard from framing guru/cognitive linguist George Lakoff said at a New America Foundation talk on Monday. He commented that the traditional model of Democratic strategy is “interest based policy”—they find a group whose interest is not being served, find a way to serve it, and hope that group votes for them because of it.

Hilary Clinton’s campaign was run from this interest-based policy perspective (at least until Pennsylvania), but Obama ran a campaign much closer to traditional Republican models (like Regan)—a platform based on authenticity, identity, trust, values and communication.

Obama had better frames.

Its something liberal strategists have been lamenting for a few years now, of course (best put forth in Drew Westen’s wonderful, wonderful The Political Brain)—the fact that while Republicans tell cultural narratives, Democrats give policy proposals. But I liked the simplicity and conciseness of Lakoff’s description of it. He also pointed out “if you look at the attacks on Obama, they have been attacking those things,” they’ve been attacking his identity, authenticity and values, as opposed to his policies.

Anyway, it should be interesting to see how things play out now that Democrats, for the first time in many years, have a candidate who seems capable of creating a resonant and cohesive narrative for the party (or at least for his version of party) at the precise moment the GOP seems to be having a major identity crisis. I can’t decide if I look forward to or shutter at the thought of all the books about it come early 2009.

[P.S. Apparently Lakoff has a new bookThe Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain—which sounds kind of exactly like Westen’s The Political Brain.]

Written by Elizabeth

June 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Posted in The Best Things

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. George!

    Being too focused on identity/issue politics is a pretty common criticism of the Democratic party. I think I remember the authors of Crashing the Gate talking about it. But I haven’t been over to DailyKos in awhile- I hear the primary got things pretty inflamatory over there. Sweet Tinkerbell, am I glad this primary is over.

    erinelizabeth

    June 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm


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