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November 03, 2004

Seeing how everything turned out—pretty much the same as 2000—leads me to believe that people in general care more about being a Republican or being a Democrat than about the actual candidates. It's like a team that they've joined that they will always be faithful to. They don't look that hard at the people running for office, they just know that they've always been a Republican, their parents have always been Republican, their community has always been Republican. It doesn't really matter that the Democrat did better during the debates, as almost every independent source (if there really is such a thing) reported. It doesn't really matter that this Republican is particularly bad at foreign policy or that he wants to amend the Constitution to take away the rights of some people or that the economy kind of sucked for most people while he was in office. People want to stay with their team, as if this were some kind of sporting event.

I'm an Undeclared voter, but I can't say that I've ever voted for a Republican. However, I like to think that I would if the presiding Democrat made a mess of things. I wouldn't overlook the mess as most of the people in this country seem to have done. Please, people. Next time don't just automatically check that box next to the same party name. Read and think.

Posted at November 3, 2004 10:09 AM


I'm making everyone I know--regardless of political predilection--read George Lakoff's new book Don't Think of an Elephant (excerpt and TOC at http://www.chelseagreen.com/2004/items/elephant, amzn link is http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1931498717/qid=1099548634).

Lakoff is an unabashed liberal (he's a founder of the Rockridge Institute), but that's not the reason to read him.

He's a cognitive scientist and Berkeley prof who studies underlying metaphor and coginitive frames. (His book Metaphors We Live By put him on my short list of "authors who make you smarter", along with Hofstadter and Smullyan). Elephant is a cheap, quick read that attempts to explain cognitives frames and reframing so progressives can understand why conservatives don't get them. Conservative think tanks have been studying framing and teaching conservative talking heads to apply it for years, but progressives in America are issue focused, rather than infrastructure focused.

Aside from his observations about the differences between conservate and progressive/liberal organization, his general argument is that both sides of the American political spectrum use an underlying metaphor "The government is like a family/parent", but they have differing criteria for measuring the success of a parent/child.

It's a great read. It's not as dry as I make it sound and it's valuable for anyone who ever talks or thinks about politics. If you want the longer, more scholarly, version, get his book Moral Politics.

Elephant is the only book I've ever bought a stack of to hand out to friends. I grew up with my mother doing that and never thought I'd do it :-)

Let me know if you want a copy.

- Seth.

Posted by: Seth at November 3, 2004 10:23 PM

I recently heard Bill Clinton (god how I miss him) say that the Republicans don't want people to think, because "when people think, we win."

I hate to rain on the parade, but thinking is exactly what most people DON'T do. Won't do. If people thought about things and applied logic for five minutes, the Democrats would already be winning. If people could stop being so damn self-centered that they feel it's appropriate to force their particular set of "moral values" on everyone else - just five freaking seconds, just long enough to pull the lever - we wouldn't be headed towards the very Christian government that spurred the founding of this country in the first place.

And if you dare point out to any of them how precisely, perfectly and completely un-American it is to get religion involved with the state in any way, you're a treasonous terrorist. You hate America and everything it stands for, they'll say, because they're too busy being (again, self-centered and) afraid for their own personal safety and personal wealth to give a damn about other people.

Posted by: Heather at November 5, 2004 07:22 PM

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