September 26, 2006


12 Traps That Keep Progressives From Winning (George Lakoff, September 26, 2006, AlterNet

Richard Wirthlin, chief strategist for former president Ronald Reagan, made a discovery in 1980 that profoundly changed American politics. As a pollster, he was taught that people vote for candidates on the basis of the candidates' positions on issues. But his initial polls for Reagan revealed something fascinating: Voters who didn't agree with Reagan on the issues still wanted to vote for him.

Mystified, Wirthlin studied the matter further. He discovered just what made people want to vote for Reagan. Reagan talked about values rather than issues. Communicating values mattered more than specific policy positions. Reagan connected with people; he communicated well. Reagan also appeared authentic -- he seemed to believe what he said. And because he talked about his values, connected with people and appeared authentic, they felt they could trust him. For these four reasons -- values, connection, authenticity and trust -- voters identified with Reagan; they felt he was one of them. It was not because all of his values matched theirs exactly. It was not because he was from their socioeconomic class or subculture. It was because they believed in the integrity of his connection with them as well as the connection between his worldview and his actions.

Whatever we may think of Reagan, this has been a winning formula for conservatives for the past quarter century. Progressives need to learn from it. Politics is about values; it is about communication; it is about voters trusting a candidate to do what is right; it is about believing in, and identifying with, a candidate's worldview. And it is about symbolism. Issues are secondary -- not irrelevant or unimportant, but secondary. A position on issues should follow from one's values, and the choice of issues and policies should symbolize those values.

One misunderstanding, common among progressive circles, is that the Reagan and George W. Bush elections were about "personality" rather than anything substantive. Nothing is more substantive than a candidate's moral worldview -- and whether he or she authentically abides by it.

The very essence of the multiculturalism and tolerance that progressives advocate is the denial of morality. Until they figure that out, they've got no shot at regaining power in America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2006 1:34 PM

--Progressives need to learn from it. Politics is about values; it is about communication; it is about voters trusting a candidate to do what is right; it is about believing in, and identifying with, a candidate's worldview.--

They're Commies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They have been communicating their view.

Posted by: Sandy P at September 26, 2006 6:22 PM

Why in the world are we adopting the word, "progresive," to describe these socialist Neanderthals without putting it in quotes, or prefacing it with "so-called," or, at least, "self-proclaimed."

Not only are they reactionary throwbacks whom history has run over and left flattened in the road, but their bygone ideologies were counter-progressive. Since they politicized culture and economics, instead of letting these things evolve naturally, they forfeited progress. This is how their motherland made it to the ashheap.

Really, this is the gayest thing one could imagine.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 26, 2006 7:44 PM

Didn't this guy publish the same article/list two years ago? Or is deja vu just another symptom of the onset of senility?

(And politics is also about compromise, about how to peacefully acquire and be satisfied with half-a-loaf when the alternative is no loaf at all. It's something far too many on the Right (and their Libertarian cousins) need to learn, too.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 26, 2006 8:35 PM

George Lakoff is so George Lakoff.

But his statement about the substance of a moral worldview is correct. Taxing the rich is not a proper moral position. Cowardly foreign policy is not a proper moral position. Abdicating national responsibility to the UN is not a proper moral position. Abortion on demand is not a proper moral position.

They need a new worldview, not a new way to communicate the old one.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 26, 2006 9:25 PM

While I agree with much of the critique of progressives, I totally disagree with Orrin's conclusion: "they've got no shot at regaining power in America."

Kerry was only Ohio away from becoming president; no loser ever got more votes. It was a very close shot.

With the biased media almost openly supporting them, by their constant unbalanced criticism of Bush, it's quite possible they will gain power.

Plus the Reps do make silly mistakes (PorkBusters should have been a no-brainer for Conservative Reps). Look at Prof. Bainbridge -- the Rep mistakes mean they deserve to lose (not that the Dems deserve to win).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 27, 2006 6:54 AM

A Kerry presidency would have left the GOP in power.

Posted by: oj at September 27, 2006 8:23 AM

"Why in the world are we adopting the word, "progresive," to describe these socialist Neanderthals... "

If you make an analogy between their effect on society and the effect of arthritis, lupus, Alzheimers, or any other continuously worsening disease on an individual, "progressive" is a perfectly accurate description.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at September 27, 2006 10:02 AM