Friday, September 12, 2008

"Don't Think of a Maverick"

If you haven't read George Lakoff's book, Don't Think of an Elephant, be sure to do so immediately. The book's not very long and is a really quick read, but as simple as it is brilliant it will leave a lasting impact on all those willing to take it to heart. Simply put, Lakoff analyzes the framework in which progressive activists and democrats at large frame the political debate in this country. Moreover he attests that republicans are much better at this than we are and provides guidance in correcting a long history of democratic concession.

Nevertheless, despite critical acclaim amongst progressive circles, it seems his argument has yet to reach the ears of those in charge of the Obama campaign, at least in practice.
Four years ago, I wrote a book called "Don't Think of an Elephant!." The title made a basic point: Negating a frame activates that frame. If you activate the other side's frame, you just help the other side, as Nixon found out when he said, "I am not a crook," which made people think of him as a crook.

The Obama campaign just put out an ad called "No Maverick". The basic idea was right. The Maverick Frame is central to the McCain campaign and, as the ad points out, it's a lie. But negating the Maverick Frame just activates that frame and helps McCain. You have to substitute a different frame that characterizes McCain as he really is.
Its sounds simple because it is. Let's just hope the Obama people are paying attention. 

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