George Lakoff- A Neoliberal in Progressive Clothing

Dr. George Lakoff.jpg

To Dr. George Lakoff:

I write this critique in response to your article regarding why people are supporting Donald Trump.

Much of your analysis has weight in terms of how language is used to frame narratives for electoral outcomes. However what I find disturbing is what is missing from your analysis. Full disclosure. I consider my self on the left of the political spectrum. My heroes are Henry Wallace, A Philip Randolf and Senator Robert Kennedy. So neither Clinton nor Trump will be getting my vote. So therefore in this analysis I will critiquing your article from the left and the "progressive" point of view. In brief I will analyze 7 of your points of how Trump manipulates the electorate.

Your first point: 1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits that determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We're gonna win so much you'll get tired of winning.

According to PBS Frontline the middle class share of income has been falling since 1980. Some studies show that it has been falling since 1976. Looking at your analysis of repetition as the cause for the support of Trump is not only flawed by disingenuous. The middle class and the poor have been losing since 1980.

Trump is speaking to middle America where manufacturing jobs have disappeared in some cases 30 years ago. Under both parties the American electorate is losing. The Democrats support of the TPP, globalization, and wars (Libya) are cases in point. Trump doesn't need the words to prove his point, the economic reality of most Americans makes it self evident.

2nd. Framing: Incessantly characterizing Hillary Clinton as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit does not somehow make it true. But repeating does make many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies of the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark '(C)' in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

Lets see here. Is murder a strict father or nurture mother concept? Hillary Clinton remarks on murder of Qaddafi with no trial, "We came, he saw, he died"...

I thought progressive's were not into overthrowing foreign governments. Fighting unjust wars for profit. But here we have a clear example of Hillary strutting her strict father model all over the place. But you use the word "crooked" and then compare to it the Bengazi panel as a soft shoe. Most Americans are tired of endless wars, money for NATO, crony capitalism, but you leave this out. Again Hillary's words on Qaddafi are self explanatory.

3rd: Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community -- despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father -- namely, Trump.

The Saudi Arabian financing of terrorism and 911 is well documented. Have you heard of the 28 pages? Did Bush's friend help the hijackers? Did your friend Obama issue an arrest warrant for George aka Bandar Bush? Did Obama prevent the disclosure for 8 years? Is killing innocent people wrong in the strict father or mother nurture frame? Also it is well documented that water resources and economic strain create distress in the Middle East. Just the same as neoliberal Chicago style economics create stress in black communities. Again the media doesn't need to do this, it is evident in the lives of millions of Americans. Have your read the 1960 Democratic Party Platform?

They mandate full employment! Have you considered that full employment can only help cultural, spiritual, and civic society at large. Again you give the frames more credit than they deserve. Crisis Management is the post modern economic and social model. This is discussed in Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. This is not something Trump created, it goes back to Reagan when he fired the Air Traffic Controllers.

Points 5, 6 and 7:

5. Conventional metaphoric thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of "entering" and "leaving" the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out of that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believe that after leaving the EU, things would be as before they entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that a country Is a person and a metonymy of the president standing for country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, "He will do it."

Here you miss the boat completely. You obviously didn't read Bernie Sander's analysis of Brexit in the New York Times.

The standard of living for people living in Spain, Portugal, and other southern European countries has fallen since joining the EU. Countries get punished for running higher than a 3% deficit. That is a strict father concept some would call it fascism. Countries in the EU don't have their own central bank so they are at the mercy of the European Central Bank and can't devalue their currency and make adjustments. Devaluing your currency and making adjustments is a nurture mother concept? Isn't it.

In closing. People support Trump because they see there economic livelihood destroyed by neoliberal economic policy. Neoliberal for the Democrats and Neocon for the GOP. Also of note: your concept of moral politics does require accountability of some sort. So in your model I would assume that money launderers and drug dealers who helped run the global economy into the ground should be punished? Obama and Holder let the drug dealers go. How does that fit into your model of moral politics?

The issue is that both Democrats and Republicans have adopted a colonial strict father economic system that only helps the 1%. Democrats can't do better as long as they accept no Glass Steagall, TPP, NATO, privatization of public schools, free trade and no goal for full employment. You yourself appear to have abandoned some primary principles and morals. The abandonment of the old Left is the issue we have been overrun by with Neoliberals in Progressive clothing. Your analysis gives way to much credit to Trump. Rather it would have been more productive to analyze the contradictions on the so called "Left" that have created the conditions for Trump to even have a chance.

Brian Crowell

M.E.D. Candidate

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