This OTYCD entry originally posted in June 2017.
Stop whatever it is you’re doing, get a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff, clear your schedule, and read it. If you already own it, reread it and refresh yourself on it. Do not stop rereading it until you are fully fluent in its concepts. If you are fluent in its concepts, buy and give the book to someone else who isn’t.
Lakoff is a cognitive scientist and linguist. He knows what the rest of us know all too well: left-leaning folks suck at messaging. Unlike the rest of us, he has solid ideas about how to fix it.
In one slim, elegant volume, Lakoff lays out what the right-leaning folks are doing successfully; why they are successful; and what we can learn from them.
Best of all, he shows how left-leaning values are American values and gives us all hope that we can reclaim the national debate by reframing the national debate. It’s doable. It won’t be easy, but it is doable.
While there’s too much to summarize, a big thing to remember is to flatly refuse to embrace and repeat language popularized by right-wingers. Using their language validates the screwy ideas they embody. We need to devise and repeat our own language, and it can’t just be a mess of talking points–it has to spring from an authentic, cohesive worldview. Conveniently, Lakoff shows how the left does in fact have one, and he talks about how to articulate and defend it.
This is a direct order: Read Don’t Think of an Elephant! and make it the engine that drives your activism.
Buy the 10th anniversary edition of Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate through Powell’s (this is the 2014 edition):
Read Lakoff’s blog:
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