The purpose of the Progressive Information Project is to more widely share resources and information created to advance progressive causes. A lot of good work is being done, but the average progressive often doesn't learn about it or know what is available. This series is designed to help alleviate that problem.
Anyone familiar with the progressive movement is probably very familiar with George Lakoff and his work on framing and the use of language in reaching the public. One of his key works is a book called Thinking Points. What few people seem to know is that the entire text of the book is available online for free. Cognitive Policy Works hosts not only the full text of the book, which every progressive should read at least once, but the site also offers a series of articles and discussions that go well beyond Lakoff's original ideas and expand upon the ideas he presents.
Lakoff talks about the importance of the progressive vision and values:
Progressives have a long and storied history in the United States. It is a narrative driven by the liberal principles of freedom, equality, human dignity, tolerance, and the celebration of diversity, and by the conviction that our common wealth should be used for the common good. Our nation?s greatest moments occurred when these principles prevailed. We write so that they may endure.
These principles belong to no person, place, or party. They belong to no race, class, or gender. They belong to no time, region, or country of origin. And they recognize no red state/blue state dichotomy. We write to remind ourselves of the progressive principles that have always lifted our nation to higher moral ground. And we re?ect on our past in the hope that we can leave our children with a better future.
The purpose of the book, according to Lakoff, is that the country has strayed from those progressive values and progressives themselves have a problem expressing the values and vision that most Americans would agree with if they heard articulate explanations of those values. And that for us to fend off the right-wing assault on America's progressive values and past, we have to learn how to speak about our values in a way that the average citizen can understand and internalize.
Lakoff points to a number of roadblocks we run into in terms of trying to communicate our values:
He explains these traps and goes into how they hurt us. Then he goes on to explain what the actual progressive vision and values are:
Progressive morality, like the nurturant parent model, is based on empathy and responsibility.
Empathy is the capacity to connect with other people, to feel what others feel, to imagine oneself as another and hence to feel a kinship with others.
Responsibility means acting on that empathy?responsibility for yourself and for others.
From empathy and responsibility, a set of core progressive values follows. These are the values that define progressive thought and structure progressive positions on any issue. They all involve acting on your empathy to achieve the following:
Protection (for people threatened or under duress) Fulfillment in life (so others can lead meaningful lives as you would want to) Freedom (because to seek fulfillment, you must be free) Opportunity (because leading a fulfilling life requires opportunities to explore what is meaningful and fruitful) Fairness (because unfairness can stifle freedom and opportunity) Equality (because empathy extends to everyone) Prosperity (because a certain base amount of material wealth is necessary to lead a fulfilling life and pay for enough shelter, food, and health) Community (because nobody makes it alone, and communities are necessary for anyone to lead a fulfilling life)
The book also goes into a number of specific issue areas, such as the economy, and expresses specific values related to those issues:
Regulation protects the public from harmful products and fraud by unscrupulous or irresponsible businesses. Taxation brings together the common wealth to build a common infrastructure that we all need to fulfill our individual needs and dreams. Progressive taxation is fair: Those who benefit most from the common wealth should pay the most to sustain it. Unions and workers? rights help balance the unfair distribution of power in job negotiations and promote safe, healthy, and ethical workplaces. Tort lawsuits are the last possibility?the baseline of protection?for dissuading irresponsible companies from harming the public.
Lakoff extends that discussion to talk about the mythology the right has built that is in opposition to those values and tackles specific false premises that conservatives frequently espouse:
The book ends with a discussion of how to construct arguments and the features of successful arguments.
In the extension of the book on the website, Joe Brewer expands upon ideas that Lakoff writes about. A key article explains his strategy for shifting the public conversation back to the left:
The strategy is simple:
Know your values and be authentic Express your political views using language that expresses your values (Refuse to accept language that undermines your values) Point out the consequences of progressive and conservative approaches to government With enough repetition, people will start to see that you are talking about things that make sense As more people see the world through the progressive lens, they will find progressive policies more acceptable (and conservative policies will be less acceptable). Avoid being punitive or abusive.
This is better than expressing views you don?t hold or using means you don?t believe in. And it will help you win!
There is a lot to read on the extended website and much of it is a vital part of the conversation that all progressives should be having ? how do we get the public to understand what progressivism is and how do we get them to vote for more progressive candidates and demand more progressive policies?
Man, does Super Best Friends look great:
One thing I thought Grant Morrison got right in Supergods was the complaint that our superheroes have gotten a tad mired down in depressive contemplation of their own powers and responsibilities. There’s no reason this stuff can’t be fun, and dashing, and kind of silly?it’s one of the reasons She-Hulk’s affinity for partying is so much fun. If you lived in the Avengers Mansion, why wouldn’t you throw ragers there when you save the world? There’s nothing wrong with using your resources for fun as well as for the greater good.
And because I’ve been thinking a lot about the way Sex and the City’s been demoted to a second-tier show in the Golden Age of Television assessments, I’m also excited for a show that seems like it has the potential to illustrate that you can both want to mess with your ex and kill it professionally, especially when that means saving the world. Just as Ron Swanson’s performance of traditional masculinity is in no way in conflict with his respect for strong women, wanting to buy awesome shoes (or joyride Wonder Woman’s invisible jet) doesn’t automatically melt the part of your brain that values justice and makes you super-great at fighting evil.
In a March 8, interview, O’Brien challenged Pollak’s assertion that a video from 1990 showing President Obama, then a law student, hugging late Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell was a “smoking gun” for Obama’s true beliefs on “racial division and class warfare.” Pollak’s manufactured controversy hinged on characterizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) as “hold[ing] that the Civil Rights Movement was a sham and that White Supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown.” Prodded by Pollak to define CRT, O?Brien accurately characterized it as a theory that ?looks into the intersection of race and politics and the law.? (Watch it here.)
While Pollak in his eagerness to hype his “bombshell” video mischaracterized CRT as a radical theory that calls for a war against white people, animosity on the far right has been pointed at Soledad O’Brien for correcting his inaccurate statements. Chris Loesch, husband of CNN contributor Dana Loesch, tweeted (HT: Little Green Footballs):
And Michelle Malkin, writing on David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.com, claimed that O’Brien defended CRT and Bell because “she masks her political activism under the banner of corporate media ‘diversity.’? Malkin continues:
…[L]iberal minority journalists simply can?t resist carrying water for Obama. That?s because their journalistic unity demands political unanimity. If you don?t accept the left-leaning agenda of ?social change? journalism, you?re enabling racism. If you don?t support the pursuit of racial hiring goals as a primary journalistic and academic goal, you?re selling out.
Noticeably, neither Loesch and Malkin offer any evidence that CRT calls for “war against white people” or that O’Brien’s comments were rooted in anti-Semitism or racism. Indeed, the increasing politicization of anti-Semitism accusations has raised eyebrows among many in the Jewish community. Sarah Wildman, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune and PBS, wrote in The Jewish Daily Forward last January:
…[W]hen anti-Semitism is falsely applied, we must also stand up and decry it as defamation, as character assault, as unjust. That is why when we debase the term by using it as a rhetorical conceit against those with whom we disagree on policy matters, we have sullied our own promises to our grandparents. For if we dilute the term, if we render the label meaningless, defanged, we have failed ourselves, our legacy, our ancestors, our children.
While Loesch and Malkin are quick to throw around incendiary accusations, it might be helpful for them to explain why they believe O’Brien’s defense of CRT and critical questioning of Joel Pollak justify accusing an award winning CNN anchor of racism and anti-Semitism.
A Public Religion Research Institute poll released today found that 52 percent of Americans favor legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples, including 59 percent of Catholics and 65 percent of white mainline Protestants. According to the survey, 63 percent also believe that religiously affiliated organizations that receive federal funding should be required to let gays and lesbians adopt children. In addition, 50 percent even believe religiously affiliated organizations that do not take federal funding should still offer same-sex adoptions. And though Republican presidential candidates have accused President Obama of waging a war on religion, the poll found that 56 percent of Americans do not believe religious liberty is under attack.
Last month, a jury found then-Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (R) guilty of six felony counts of voter fraud, theft, and perjury. But today, the state’s supreme court overturned a lower court’s ruling that by registering to vote at a false address, he was ineligible to run for the office. The decision means that Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) will be able to appoint a permanent replacement for White, instead of the job going to the Democratic runner-up from the November 2010 election. The unanimous court held that Democrats should have challenged his residency before the election, rather than after.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives easily passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act last week, with both parties touting it as a way to help small business startups and boost the economy. The White House supports the bill, and Senate Democrats are planning to introduce it (or something like it) in the coming days.
Regulators and business advocates, however, have a different view of the bill, which would remove or weaken regulatory hurdles for so-called “emerging growth companies” that are raising money through public offerings, exempt some companies from government audits, and make it easier for companies to use “crowd funding,” allowing them to raise money online from a large number of investors without filing disclosure forms.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Schapiro is concerned that the bill would rollback significant investor protections, she wrote in a letter to the Senate Banking Committee last night. Former SEC chief accountant Lynn E. Turner took an even dimmer view of the bill, Bloomberg reports:
“It won?t create jobs, but it will simplify fraud,? Turner said in an interview last week. ?This would be better known as the bucket-shop and penny-stock fraud reauthorization act of 2012,” he said, referring to practices banned under securities law.
The JOBS Act would “destroy safeguards dating as far back as the laws that created the” SEC, according to Turner, and would also “weaken important protections” put in place after the accounting scandals that engulfed Enron, WorldCom, and other companies in the early 2000s.
One exemption created by the bill, meant to help small businesses, is “so broad that it would eliminate important protections for investors in even very large companies,” Schapiro wrote. It’s exemption for crowd funding, meanwhile, would make it easier to organize online scam operations at a time when Americans — particularly the elderly — are more susceptible to online scams than ever.
ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger called the bill a giveaway to lobbyists, short-sellers, Wall Street analysts, and “boiler room operations,” all groups that have been the subjects of recent scandals. “While well intentioned, the JOBS Act…sacrifices essential investor protections without offering any prospects for meaningful, sustainable job growth,” Jack Herstein, president of the North American Securities Administration Association, told the Washington Post.
The Senate still has time to strengthen the bill, though Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wants to pass it soon. The White House, for its part, says it supports efforts “to ensure that there are sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse,” though it hasn’t said what specifically it would like changed.
Factcheck.org calls out Rick Santorum for his outlandish statements on climate change — most recently he said “Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.? Pointing to the extensive research backing climate change, Factcheck.org illustrates what we already know; man-made climate change isn?t a topic of debate among scientists, where 97 percent-98 percent agree it is occurring. ?Skeptics are rare among scientists who actually study the climate,? it says. “Voters shouldn?t be misled into thinking carbon dioxide isn?t a problem, or that climate scientists don?t overwhelmingly agree that global warming is real and human activities are making it worse.?
GLAAD’s new Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) has one goal: ensure that the dastardly anti-gay comments social conservatives have made in the past are not ignored or forgiven when they make mainstream media appearances. Blogger Jeremy Hooper, a significant contributor to CAP, has pointed out that many of these individuals have been allowed to play “split roles,” railing against the LGBT community on conservative talk radio, then playing the part of “buttoned-up conservative” pundit on cable or local news. And in the day since the project launched, many of its targets have proven exactly why this accountability is necessary:
In every case, these anti-gay voices are claiming to be victims, but they are only victims of their own quotes. In a way, the Commentator Accountability Project represents a culmination of the work LGBT bloggers have been doing for years, capturing the vitriolic rhetoric of equality opponents for all to see. The mere fact that they feel the need to respond by condemning GLAAD’s effort validates the value of this project. Now there is an accessible hub for these quotes ? albeit not a full archive (by design) ? to ensure that pundits don’t get away with being conservative standard-bearers without taking responsibility for the many dangerous lies and offensive values that define them. The jig is up.
The genius of CAP is that it creates a lose-lose situation for these would-be pundits. They can try to compensate by doubling down on their most offensive talking points and how loudly and widely they share them. Or, they can proceed with their typical media appearances and attempt to use the victim mentality to obfuscate responsibility for their own views. Either way, they stand to lose public favor, and no matter how they condemn GLAAD, that’s surely why they’re so perturbed.
Ariel Zevon is Warren's daughter. And she's done a great job in putting the foreclosure crisis to song. The more I watch it, the more I love this video!
Spring is almost here and that means the Occupy Movement will be back in full force. Tomorrow they'll be confronting the Willard Wall Street campaign at the Waldorf Astoria. Keep in touch with what's going on there at the Mr. 1% Facebook page. But Ariel's song was done for the Doo-Occupy! Bail Out America project, which is all about community organizing for eviction protection, student debt relief and the other economic democracy causes motivating the 99% since the banksters and their politician cronies were caught with their hands in the till. Their statement is clear and as enticing as the song:Our hope is to provide focus and capacity to the emerging populist uprising. We wish to help amplify its power through inspiring movement building campaigns that can are rooted in communities and deliver victories that make a material difference in people's lives.
Through this we will grow our movement from the power we have to the power we need to transform society and establish a new social contract based not on citizenship or property, but on universal human rights.
Doo-Occupy! Bail Out America is an intensive "Learning by Doing" action training that will deliver tools to take home, including stories and lesson from a couple of the hottest actions you'll ever experience. Thanks to all our allies for joining the fun.
Even though the vast majority of African American voters and lawmakers are Democrats, it may be black Republicans who have the best chance to reach the U.S. Senate or win governorships, at least in the near future.
Unlike their counterparts on the other side of the aisle, black Republicans in Congress?few as they are?usually represent white districts for the simple reason that most African Americans vote Democratic. This has huge implications for the ability of black Republicans to advance up the political ladder. South Carolina?s Tim Scott, one of two African American Republicans in the House, is a prime example. A first-term congressman, Scott represents a mostly white district that stretches from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. As a Republican aligned with the Tea Party, he is in tune with his district and with the majority of South Carolinians, who elected a Tea Party governor in 2010 and revere Senator Jim DeMint.
Scott?s district isn?t particularly affluent, but as an up-and-comer in state politics, he has access to important donors and activists. What?s more, he used the January Republican presidential primary in his state to increase his name recognition. The congressman hosted seven ?First in the South Presidential Candidate Town Halls? last summer and fall, sharing the stage separately with each of the leading GOP contenders. Scott is widely mentioned as a candidate for either governor or senator, and if he ran, he could win.
Because of their demographic majority, white voters tend to be closer to the political center in most states. For that reason, a black representative of white voters is more ?mainstream? than most representatives of black voters. Of course, you can still have ideological outliers?like Florida Republican Allen West, the other black Republican currently serving in the House, whose Tea Party orthodoxy and extreme rhetoric (President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders should ?get the hell out of the United States of America,? he proclaimed at a Lincoln Day dinner in January) would make him a nonstarter statewide. But the more black Republican mayors and representatives white districts elect, the bigger the bench of black candidates who can win higher office will be.
This raises a larger and more difficult question, though. Which is more important: racial diversity in higher offices or effective representation of minority interests? Black Republican officeholders add diversity to our political system. But it?s also true that black lawmakers who represent white constituencies have no history of supporting measures that equalize economic opportunity or improve public education and social services upon which African Americans disproportionately rely.