Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A cynic and a linguist cloud the truth

On the first of the month, Frank Luntz gave nervous Republicans a shrewd list of words to repeat when selling themselves and their American vision in the next election (Click on: blog (December 2) complained that his advice was too selective, rather chicken-hearted, and would only corrupt what could be an exceptionally clear-headed fight over America’s future.  
Linguist and left helpmate George Rakeoff takes a very different approach, offering a pretty alternative of his own:  
“Unfortunately, Luntz is still ahead of most progressives responding to him. Progressives need to learn how framing works. Bashing Luntz, bashing Fox News, bashing the right-wing pundits and leaders using their frames and arguing against their positions just keeps their frames in play.
“Progressives have a basic morality, which is largely unspoken. It has to be spoken, over and over, in every corner of our country. Progressives need to be both thinking and talking about their view of a moral democracy, about how a robust public is necessary for private success, about all that the public gives us, about the benefits of health, about a Market for All not a Greed Market, about regulation as protection, about revenue and investment, about corporations that keep wages low when profits are high, about how most of the rich earn a lot of their money without making anything or serving anyone, about how corporations govern your life for their profit not yours, about real food, about corporate and military waste, about the moral and social role of unions, about how global warming causes the increasingly monstrous effects of weather disasters, about how to save and preserve nature.
“Progressives have magnificent stories of their own to tell. They need to be telling them nonstop.”
So, listen carefully progressives: don’t argue, moralize.
Imagine a Moral Market, regulated by angels, where our pension funds grow in double digits and our corporations will make profits just short of “greedy.” Promise a Market for All, except, most likely, in the delivery of public services. Insist that the unproductive rich and their unpatriotic corporations run our lives and that once we’re free of them we’ll be happy to pay—whatever we’re told it will take—to save the planet. Imagine that—without the other side’s corrupt lobbyists—government will be waste-free, that its claims on us will always make sense.
Both Lakeoff and Luntz live in California. Each wants us to pick their illusion; probably each believes that the real world will submit to their story—if it turns out to be a blockbuster.

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