Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Linguist and the Democrats

Jesse Walker, Managing Editor of Reason on Line, writes in "The Man Who Framed Himself: How George Lakoff got trapped in his own metaphors" that linguist Lakoff surfaces "Like potholes after a snowstorm, when Democrats lose an election..." to explain how the words and language in which the various issues are framed have caused the Democrats to lose election after election.

According to Mr. Walker, Lakoff says, "When the word tax is added to relief, the result is a metaphor: Taxation is an affliction." When Democrats use language like that, he warns, they're "accepting the conservative frame. The conservatives had set a trap: The words drew you into their worldview."

I agree. For instance, the Republicans have been well known for several years to repeatedly state with great confidence and no small amount of corroborative evidence, "We kick ass and (sometimes) take names." While the Democrats, who over the same time period have adopted (or been adopted by) such sterling performers as Michael Moore, Barbara Boxer, Osama bin Laden and Al Sharpton, have become most closely associated with the phrase, "We are full of shit."

UPDATE: al-Reuters quotes Sen. Teddy Kennedy illustrating my point exactly;

"Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans, instead of dividing us."

"Today, I propose a progressive vision for America, a vision that Democrats must fight for in the months and years ahead -- a vision rooted in our basic values of opportunity, fairness, tolerance and respect for each other, and, we are full of shit."

"If the White House's idea of bipartisanship is that we have to buy whatever partisan ideas they send us, we're not interested, and, in addition, we are full of shit."

"We have an administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis," Kennedy said. "They did it on Iraq, and they are doing it now on Social Security," he said.

"They exploit the politics of fear and division, while ours is a politics of hope and unity, and what makes me angriest is that they kick ass and sometimes take names."

"In an election so close, defeat has a thousand causes -- and it is too easy to blame it on particular issues or tactics, and besides that they kick ass and sometimes take names while we remain completely full of shit." Kennedy said. He then exhorted his audience, "Learn to swim!"

(Edited for absolute clarity.)

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