A review by samferree
Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives by George Lakoff

challenging informative inspiring fast-paced


This book came out more or less exactly when I became more politically aware in high school, and though I only just read it in 2023 I have noticed the lessons, observations, and recommendations Lakoff makes herein start to gain traction and then eventually become common wisdom in political messaging. Having worked at an environmental advocacy organization in the 21st Century pre-teens, I remember Lakoff's work being presented as "new and meaningful" and watched as it's worked very well for those who took the lesson and others who ignore it crash and burn. Lakoff's Strong Father vs. Nurturing Family model has to be one of the most useful and succinct analogies for the conflict between conservativism and progressivism in contemporary Anglo-American politics I've ever encountered. I say Anglo-American because it seems that Americans may have inherited this notion from the UK since Thatcher summed up the conservative take pretty well when she accidentally articulated the idea in a 1987 interview, "...who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first." I also recognize the Strong Father model in Jeffersonian libertarian individualism that has been a pretty consistent theme throughout American history; progressivism, I think, is harder to trace as an intellectual force, but it seems to be a basic notion of "we are all in this together" that has its origins in communitarianism, labor solidarity, pluralism, unionism, New Dealism, and constitutionalism.