George Lakoff And The Problems With Framing

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The Dems and linguist George Lakoff may think it’s all about repackaging old issues and framing the argument, but I certainly don’t this so. If you want to be the majority party you need to have ideas that spark the majority’s imagination. Sure, some ideas are going to be brought up again and again because (I think) they’re good ideas (universal health care?), but you can’t just “frame” everything and think that’s going to work.

Then again, I could be dead wrong. I know Newt did something similar to this in the mid 90s and had great success with it. That is until he imploded.

The New York Times has an article on George Lakoff and his rise through the Democratic ranks.

The message Lakoff’s adherents seem to take away from their personal meetings with him, however, is decidedly more simplistic. When I asked Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip and one of Lakoff’s strongest supporters, whether Lakoff had talked to the caucus about this void of new ideas in the party, Durbin didn’t hesitate. ”He doesn’t ask us to change our views or change our philosophy,” Durbin said. ”He tells us that we have to recommunicate.” In fact, Durbin said he now understood, as a result of Lakoff’s work, that the Republicans have triumphed ”by repackaging old ideas in all new wrapping,” the implication being that this was not a war of ideas at all, but a contest of language.


Brendan Nyhan has a great post on this too.