- Paperback: 471 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 2 edition (May 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226467716
- ISBN-13: 978-0226467719
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think 2nd Edition
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"[An] unusual mix of judicious scholarship, tendentious journalism and inflammatory wake-up call." - Editors' Recommendation, San Francisco Chronicle; "Lakoff, the cognitive linguist, understands 'how' you understand. In Moral Politics, [he] deftly applies that seemingly arcane understanding to the heart of American politics.... His commitment is strong and deep, but his language is far from the rhetoric usually associated with political partisanship.... Even those who disagree with him will profit deeply from encountering his challenging ideas." - Paul Rosenberg, Christian Science Monitor; "Lakoff's stunning book opens a whole new understanding of public discourse in America. Both conservatives and liberals have much to learn from this work." - Robert Bellah, University of California, Berkeley
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I am not sure I buy into Lakoff's analysis on all points, but he argues persuasively for the core ideas he proposes. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, Lakoff will explain why some positions of the other side make sense to them even though a mystery to you. Maybe these insights provides a basis for understanding and communication that are a starting point to getting something done in Washington, and a starting point for more civil discussion with your friends who are of the opposite political persuasion.
But be patient. Lakoff is irritatingly repetative, apparently in a misguided effort to be clear and precise. It will take time and effort to wade through the book.
In one respect Moral Politics is rather bleak as there seems to be no possible détente between the two sides. Mr. Lakoff seems to see this as a zero sum battle. For instance, in education liberals prefer to teach children various views and beliefs, even including conservativism. Conservatives, however, see this as cultural and moral relativism. Conservatives push conservative values at the exclusion of all others. There is no middle ground, either conservatives win or liberals win.
Although Mr. Lakoffs' cognitive models are as good as any I could imagine, he does upon occasion seem to shoehorn beliefs into one or the other. For instance he argues that Newt Gingrich's desire to take children away from welfare mothers and place them into orphanages follows the Strict Father model because the welfare mothers are without a doubt failures at parenting. Better to let the state take over in order to instill those Strict Father values. I would argue that Gingrich's proposal has less to do with his desire to satisfy his Strict Father beliefs and more to do with the fact that he despises welfare mothers.
It almost seems that the words conservative and liberal have been entirely absconded by politicians. There was an article in American Conservative magazine, after the 2004 election, titled "Bush 2, Conservativism 0". The gist of the article was the Bush was literally killing conservativism, meanwhile Bush is seen as the standard bearer of conservative values. Pat Buchanan wrote a book claiming that liberals had infiltrated the White House in the guise of neo-conservativism. So who's correct, American Conservative, Pat Buchanan or the Bush backers? It seems that conservatives are whomever self proclaimed political conservatives declare themselves to be.
Without a doubt Moral Politics gives the reader a LOT to think about. George Lakoff is able to make coherent sense out of conservatives desire to ban abortions while they work towards cutting funding for pre and post natal care. In a age where the rate of infant mortality in the United States is one of the worst of any industrialized nation it boggles the liberal mind how conservatives can place the welfare of an unborn, unwanted child above one that is wanted. Solving that conundrum alone is worth the price of admission.