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297 of 341 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important political book on the market today
In Thomas Frank's bestselling "What's the Matter with Kansas?" the author asks why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests. Well, George Lakoff of the Rockridge Institute, a prominent progressive think tank, provides the answers. According to Lakoff, most Americans vote their identity and values not their economic self interest...
Published on September 29, 2004 by Laurie

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Concept: four stars / Execution: two stars
This is essentially just a poorly-written, watered-down version of Lakoff's "Moral Politics". If you're seriously interested in Lakoff's theory of politics, skip this and read "Moral Politics" instead. But, if you want just a brief summary of the highlights of Lakoff's theory, without having to read the (much longer and more in-depth) "Moral Politics", then this book...
Published on August 3, 2008 by Gregory J. Casteel


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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where has this book been my whole life?, October 15, 2004
By 
Cory McGookin (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This book scratched an itch that has been there since I became an aware adult. I have spent my adult life as a progressive surrounded by conservatives. The more I learned and tried to pass on to others the more frustrated I became. NOW FINALLY, because of this book, I understand the communication barriers. This book should be mandatory reading for every progressive who wants to help change not only our politics but also the American consciousness. You can learn to identify discussion traps that Conservatives set, avoid them and set your own. Please read this book and pass it on to someone else to read!!!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A political book worth reading, December 4, 2005
By 
CJ (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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Plus Side: Great ideas, nails it on the head - the way you can win debates is by framing the argument so your opponent is at a significant disadvantage before you even start. (Pick a Fox News show, and why the left looks so weak on them). Chapter seven is the best succinct conservative belief system description I have ever seen.

Down Side (of this book): Makes a lot of references to moral politics, Lakoff's other book - so it sometimes feels like you should be reading that book. Sometimes repetitive, since he patched previously written articles to form a lot of this book. Sometimes a little too brief in his explanation of very complicated topics (what do you expect from this thin of a book?)

Despite this, it's worth reading to think about what are the real underlying issues/values of American politics today.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful weapon for political debate, May 3, 2005
By 
E. David Swan (Denver, Colorado USA) - See all my reviews
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Cognitive scientist George Lakoff tries to make the point that ideas are all well and good but framing is the true key to swaying public opinion. Framing, he points out, is more than just slick salesmanship or sound bites, it's about creating established mindsets. It takes time, effort and repetition to engrain a frame into the collective consciousness of a society but once the frame is established the playing field will remain slanted in favor of the framers. The term "Tax Burden" is a link into a frame that says "Taxation is a burden and American's are overburdened". Once the frame is established the effort of arguing is 90 percent complete. Saying "Tax Burden" immediately keys into the crafted frame while efficiently and effortlessly tilting the battle in favor of Conservatives. Meanwhile liberals are left stuttering and stammering about taxes being the cost we pay for good roads, safe cities and a solid educational system. Another example would be `Social Security Reform' which automatically presupposes that Social Security is outdated and in need of reform. Once the frame `Social Security is old and crumbling' is established Conservatives are half way to the finish line. As Mr. Lakoff states, "Once a frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense".

The depressing part is how easy it is for people to become numb to the facts around them and find themselves manipulated into working against their own self interest. As Mr. Lakoff states when faced with accepting new contrary evidence or altering an engrained frame most people choose to keep the frame and throw out the facts. On the bright side the author sees one inherent advantage on the side of progressives being that the agendas' of progressives are actually more popular among most Americans. In order to pass through a bill that relaxes regulations on pollution emissions the Republican Congress used the Orwellian name `Clear Skies Act'. As Mr. Lakoff states these kind of tactics are signs of weakness because Conservatives know that Americans inherently support a clean environment. The strength of the liberal progressive movement is that it doesn't need to deceive in order to construct popular frames. It's refreshing to hear George Lakoff talk about `honest' framing which stands in stark contrast to the win at any cost attitude of his counterpart on the right Frank Luntz. What could be more cynical than a smiling Frank Luntz saying, without a hint of irony, that he would call a logging bill the `Healthy Forest Bill' because it sounds good?

I actually enjoyed Mr. Lakoff's much longer book `Moral Politics' even more. This book has an unfortunate tendency to be repetitive and wanders a bit in the middle chapters. Still, it's a great book for understanding framing and how important it is in political debate. Reframing is a collaborative effort and having a book like this to unite ideas is a good next step in re-steering the United States back onto a progressive route.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anger control and focus control matter the most, March 31, 2005
By 
I'm an older version of the conservative, aka the gentle conservative, not the current "screw you" type that has hijacked this country. Having said that, it is important that when you approach a conservative of today's standard you do so not with anger but with patience and moderation. This book stresses the importance of framing the debates and issues for even a semi-staunch conservative with an open mind to appreciate. You see, the current brand of conservatives led by Rush Limbaugh, Arnold Schwarzneggar, and others want you to simply lose your temper and make it easier for them to label you as an angry liberal. Along with that, they want moderates to think that liberals are too difficult to get along with and that if they just bow down to conservatives, they won't be questioned or even challenged. Well, it turns out that for the past 40+ years, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party has simply reacted negatively but with no clear alternative solution while at the same time the moderates of the Democratic Party simply caved in like pansies to the conservatives all the while losing election after election. Add it all up and you're left with a Democratic Party that is engaged in self-defeatism. Throughout the book, Lakeoff gives a historical background as to how conservatives manipulated the working class to their liking without getting angry or pandering to the other side and offers Democrats, Independents, and Republicans fed up with the neocons, be it us voters or the politicians themselves, constructive approaches to this problem. Moreover, Lakeoff shows that just like conservatives tailor their framing of their ideology depending on the state be it conservative Texas, moderate to conservative Florida, moderate to liberal California, etc ... because they know that different people in different places have different ways of accepting their ideology. This is just another reason Democrats should campaign in all 50 states and learn to communicate effectively with various segments of voters accross the country to end this red/blue divide. This is a must-have book that can help bring back meaningful public discourse and return our country back to a democracy rather than a series of rigged elections.

P.S.: I'm a conservative who feels betrayed by the leadership for exploiting our conservative strict-father beliefs for their political gains but this book helped reassure me and will do the same for all of you out there that yes you can hold these politicans accountable for playing with your feelings and beliefs.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you've been framed in life and even more so often, this book's for you., December 16, 2005
By 
Kevin Heaton (Baker City, Oregon) - See all my reviews
Often times, most of us are used to the assumption that if you just tell the truth, people will understand and support you. Not necessarily so as Lakoff proves. You've probably come across a lot of knee-jerk conservative commentaries who arrogantly argue that "Framing is as easy as turning a door knob." What they won't tell you is what Lakoff unravels. The conservatives know that they can't afford the truth. But to be able to freely spread their ideas of lying and hate, conservatives realized that they had to frame their ideas as acceptable to the voters while at the same time framing progressive and liberal ideas as somehow unacceptable. The next time you see Democrats being correct but Republicans still winning because they're somehow credible even if they're obviously wrong, you'll see why after reading this book.

I would also like to reply to an earlier post where someone talked about the framing incident in high school. This is the same kind of framing that's done everywhere. Bush may have been academically worse than Gore or Kerry but none of that counts in winning elections. Voters could care less about which candidate has more intelligence just like they could care less about who is actually correct as long as the candidate can deliver the feeling to the voters that "Yes, he or she is one of us." Critics of the book also misunderstand Lakoff and his take on facts. He's not saying that the Democrats or for that matter the rest of us should resort to the typical conservative Republican strategies of spinning lies as acceptable if not true. We all get framed in a lot of situations be it accusations, being talked down, mislabelling, etc ... The trick to getting people to accepting the facts is to not just tell them but to frame and deliver the message in a way that people can get an acceptable feeling that "Yes, this candidate is indeed credible." If you find yourself being controlled or manipulated in a debate or for that matter any discussion, reframing can help you take back control. The idea of reframing has never been discussed in most books about speeches which is why this book deserves to be read along with any book on speech training.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting back the culture mess with respect and grace, June 17, 2005
By 
This book picks up where most books leave off when it comes to getting a better understanding of the conservative voter and what makes them vote that way. Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" is technically correct that more people are brainwashed into voting against their economic interests because conservatives entice these voters with social issues such as abortion, guns, gay, school prayer, etc ... However, George Lakoff takes this argument one step further. His argument is that people vote for who they feel they are more comfortable identifying with. This of course poses a major problem for the Democrats because you get 10 Democrats lined up and you'll get 3-10 different responses depending on the issue(s) with no underlying unity. Conservatives and libertarian leaning Republicans on the other hand are united with the common "Strict Father Morality" framing and are thus able to convince more Joe/Jane-six-packs that their idendity matches theirs while at the same time getting their big money donations from the Enrons and Halliburtons and just about all of Corporate America. True, once elections are over, nothing ever really gets done about abortion, terrorism, gays and marriages, illegal immigration, school prayer, ... you name any hot button issue while at the same time the big money donors get what they continue to lobby for. Sure, you can yell on top of the mountain about the dirty rotten truth about the Iraq War and how Bush lied to the American people about it but for a rural farmer in my state of Washington or for that matter a Nascar dad in Alabama for example, the truth won't penetrate these minds because of the framing conservatives used against these people to get them to accept their lies. For progressives to win against the current breed of conservative liars, they need to learn how to frame the truth with unity, respect, and grace so that more voters can comfortably identify themselves with true progressives and not phony conservatives. Thus, this book provides an offer that no progressive or independent can ever refuse.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic writing style but extremly helpful concept., February 24, 2006
By 
backstad (Fitchburg, WI United States) - See all my reviews
Several friends recommended this book to me to help me understand the incredible success that conservatives have had in "framing" the debates. In particular, the neocons have caused us to abandon the term liberal, label the Dems as "tax & spend" and sucessfully install the rhetorical title of policy issues without regard to their accuracy. For example, "death tax", "Leave no Children Behind", "Clean Air", Healthy Forests", etc., have almost the exact opposite effect of their titles.

Also, they seem to be successfull in getting even Democrats to believe their propaganda disinformation war. For example, Dems believe we "have no policy", "nominated two ne'er-do-wells" for president, and that we are "hopelessly devided" and too "politically correct" to ever win anything but dogcatcher.

Whew! Do you need a purgative to expell the toxic reality we have swallowed from these sophisticated marketing masters of spin? I certainly did. And thank goodness George Lakehoff has given us just that in his book about these fixed mental paradigms. Read it! Pass it on! We must learn the nature of Karl Rove, et al, and their win at all cost strategies.

I have purchased multiple copies for family and friends. All report finding the book to be helpful and heartening, reminding us that Democrats are the party of people who care about the welfare of others. Get the blindfols off and start working with the simple truths Mr. Lakoff has given us. I am hopeful that all the people can't be fooled all the time - but it obviously takes each of us to work for understanding and then fight against demogoguery.

Thank you Mr. Lakeoff!

P.S. Watch out for you-know-who tricksters who will write reviews to damn the book through faint praise. Sadly, supporters of this administration are not above dirty tricks.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fake conservatism via strict father morality and what you can do to combat this political disease, December 8, 2005
By 
Martin Mcdonough (Fort Wayne, Indiana) - See all my reviews
I was once a conservative turned independent who always tried to figure out "How do these guys really do it?" I left the conservatives after I realized that nothing they did was really conservative but simply outright destructive. The old conservative ideal was that of the wise father figure who was charged with the power in society and would do the right thing for his national family. In fact, it resembled the "nurturing parent" model Lakoff talks about. This did not mean gutting infrastructure and slashing and burning the nation to dysfunctionality. It meant to act as the wise moderator, balancing the family's needs with the means of the nation. Conservatives used to be moderators, not the kind of lie and hate extremists you see in today's Republican party. They were not radicals who sought to take the nation and launch it this way or that. Exactly the opposite, they sought to conserve the traditional institutions and social structure. Actions should be taken to fix things as needed, but minimally. Don't create drastic new programs, but don't drastically trash the existing ones either. Just because a family's (i.e. nation's) financial situation goes down a bit, you don't stop feeding the baby and let the roof leak through. A paternalist wouldn't care more about corporate profit than his child getting asthma or wife getting emphysema. A paternalist wouldn't agree to a war for oil. A paternalist wouldn't thrash the school system for tax cuts for the wealthy.

When social and cultural issues such as civil rights, abortion, guns, God, gays, and other social upheavels did not sit well with these conservatives, the fake radical conservatives used political correctness and framed the issues via the "strict father morality" model Lakoff accurately describes to gradually convince conservatives to replace moderation with extremism. However, even as the newer conservatives were winning, older conservatives who still believed in moderation had a mixture of "strict father" and "nurturant parent" models in them. These are what Lakoff accurately describes as swing voters. While many conservatives including myself have abandoned these radical conservatives, not all true conservatives left the building. Conservatives knew and still do know that to keep them in the party, deceptive framing, a.k.a. lies and propaganda, would be used to give older conservatives a false sense that these fake conservatives have a heart even when they're policies actually prove otherwise. Lakoff describes this behavior as faking nurturing all the while passing destructive legislation that follows the "strict father morality" model. For example, a bill that actually seeks to destroy forests would be mis-labeled "Healthy Forests Bill" by these fake radical cons on purpose. Just recently, Congress passed an energy where they falsely claim that we'll be able to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Yet, the bill's contents give more tax cut incentives to gas guzzling versions of SUVs that will further plunder what's left of Earth's finite resources while at the same time giving little if any tax cut incentives to SUVs such as hybrids which would actually conserve and minimize usage of Earth's finite resources.

A truly compassionate conservative would actually care to make it clear what is true and best for this nation. Lakoff is correct to point out that there are a lot of friendly old school conservatives who not only want respect but for others to recognize that they too have a heart.

The key to success lies in being able to activate the nurturing parent model with voters such as I myself, once a conservative now an independent. This book also serves as a role model to help all of us take back public discourse.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only useful in politics but also in everyday life matters, December 5, 2005
By 
Tank Moody (Frederick, MD) - See all my reviews
While the author's primary goal is to help progressives think truly and deeply about the issues and ultimately override their "conservative" bullies with their own food for thought, this book is actually applicable to helping people deal with being framed and manipulated. You also want to avoid getting caught in a setup where your opponent tries to fix a game against you that you cannot play much less win. If you're forced into such a setup though, this book offers plenty of ideas on reframing so that you can force your opponent to go on the defensive. Great book for all people of all ages and you don't have to be into politics to understand what this book is all about.

P.S.:

I recall in high school when a smart student was teased and joked around by less intelligent students with trivial sports questions. Sure, they knew she doesn't know the answers to those sports questions. Instead, as I finally realized after having read this book, they didn't care that she knew the answers but wanted to see how she'd react after they successfully framed her as somehow not smart based on sports trivia. Amazingly, she simply reacted by first giving a weak answer and then simply begging them to stop testing her sports knowledge but that only motivated the idiots to play with her feelings even more and totally embarass her. This kind of behavior called reacting is what Lakoff warns liberals and progressives not to do when responding to conservatives. Instead of reacting by begging or sounding too angry, the trick is to reframe. Coming back to the student who reacted, she should have reframed the issue by saying something like "I didn't realize that being cool meant knowing sports all that much. Go ahead and keep dreaming that I'm dumb just because I don't know your sports trivia." Like Lakoff would argue, if they can set up one against you, either be prepared to reframe or don't play if you don't want to lose.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frames vs Ideas. Both are needed but frames ultimately have greater control, November 27, 2005
at least over the direction a party decides to go in terms of ideology. Matt Bai earlier this year argued that Democrats need to have ideas before they can frame them. While somewhat true, Lakoff corrects this notion by pointing out that time and again, the party takes the idea and then drops it because some, especially the centrists, have the tendancy to go along with the conservatives' language and with or without realizing it move to the "right". And as far as ideas go, both Democrats and Republicans can have the same set of ideas but the way they frame these ideas ultimately lead to their differences in ideology and opinion. Hence, even if some idea were originally Democratic, the way Republicans frame it for their own benefit makes it almost feel like a different idea altogether. Interestingly, Lakoff points out why voters like us keep getting misled by the conservatives for cloaking their notorious policies with nice names. It's one thing to have ideas. It's another to make those ideas stick if you have the correct set of frames and that's what this book sets out to explore.
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Don't Think of an Elephant!
Don't Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff (Audio Cassette - 2005)
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