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


This book kept coming up in discussions; realized I had to read it. It's smart an interesting, though not as life-changing as I had imagined. (And I'm not sure if it's central premise about two kinds of families is based on research or conjecture.)

Also, it almost seems out of date, because it exists in a world where both sides attempted to argue real facts. When one side will say "Greatest ECONOMY EVER" -- despite the statistical evidence -- how can you have any real understanding?

It all ties in nicely with what I think about how we need to question certain assumptions which frame debates. (For instance: "Corporations' only moral duty is to maximize shareholder value." That's not some natural law. That's a choice.)

Biggest takeaways:
* Do NOT repeat the other side's messaging and let it become the dominant metaphor
* Thinking differently requires speaking differently
* Facts matter, but they must be framed in terms of moral importance
* "Framing is about getting language that fits your worldview. It is not just language. The ideas are primary - and the language carries those ideas."
* "The moral hierarchy is an implicit part of the culture wars."
* "You do not have very much freedom if there is no opportunity or prosperity. Therefore, opportunity and prosperity are progressive values."
* "People do not necessarily vote their self-interest. They vote their identity." (This has become MASSIVELY clear in the last few years.)
* HUGE idea... conservatives invest in think tanks and such, for long-term strategy. Progressives invest in SERVICES to people in need, which creates a structural imbalance.
* People have a very hard time understanding "systemic causation." If we can't say "X caused Y" people throw up their hands and say "Oh, too complex. We'll never know." Climate change doesn't cause Hurricane Joe.... but we can see it's causing more, and more powerful, hurricanes.
* Re-read the Declaration of Independence ... it's not just about the rights, it's also about why government matters to secure those rights.
* Companies have two kinds of employees -- assets (irreplaceable) and resources (commodities)