At last, a progressive voice I can understand. Last night, driving home, I happened to tune into KOUW, our local NPR station. They were broadcasting a lecture by someone who managed, in the space of a paragraph or two, to completely frame the political debate in this country in terms I instantly recognized and understood. In the space of fifteen minutes, he explained conservative values, illuminated why they think the way they do, and made me cherish my progressive leanings. (Though I will occasionally dip into the well of conservatism from time to time).
That person is George Lakoff, professor of linguistics at Berkeley. In 1995 he published an essay entitled Metaphor, Morality and Politics which states the philosophical underpinnings of Conservative (neo-conservative) versus Liberal (progressive) thought. Lakoff has made me see that politics is about shared metaphors. Liberals simply cannot understand the metaphors that unite Conservatives. They might as well be speaking Greek. But Liberals have been unable to counter conservative messages because we take them literally--rather than as metaphors. We need to understand why Conservatives think the way they do. Believe me, once you get a dose of Lakoff, you will have no doubts about it. Lakoff speaks the TRUTH. Which is not to say the only truth, but a truth. And it's a truth that matters to the progressive soul. Take heart--our values are good. And he manages to speak to the mind, rather than the emotions--he doesn't throw bombs like Noam Chomsky does--Lakoff doesn't irritate or annoy--he speaks to the mind and to the values we share.
More of my take on Lakoff's specific philosophy later.