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Lakoff writes: "The Wisconsin recall vote should be put in a larger context. What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue."

Protest signs hang from the 'Forward' statue in front of the State Capitol. (photo: Getty Images)
Protest signs hang from the 'Forward' statue in front of the State Capitol. (photo: Getty Images)

The Wisconsin Blues

By George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling, Common Dreams

12 June 12


he Wisconsin recall vote should be put in a larger context. What happened in Wisconsin started well before Scott Walker became governor and will continue as long as progressives let it continue. The general issues transcend unions, teachers, pensions, deficits, and even wealthy conservatives and Citizens United.

Where progressives argued policy - the right to collective bargaining and the importance of public education - conservatives argued morality from their perspective, and many working people who shared their moral views voted with them and against their own interests. Why? Because morality is central to identity, and hence trumps policy.

Progressive morality fits a nurturant family: parents are equal, the values are empathy, responsibility for oneself and others, and cooperation. That is taught to children. Parents protect and empower their children, and listen to them. Authority comes through an ethic of excellence and living by what you say, rather than by enforcing rules.

Correspondingly in politics, democracy begins with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly both for oneself and others. The mechanism by which this is achieved is The Public, through which the government provides resources that make private life and private enterprise possible: roads, bridges and sewers, public education, a justice system, clean water and air, pure food, systems for information, energy and transportation, and protection both for and from the corporate world. No one makes it on his or her own. Private life and private enterprise are not possible without The Public. Freedom does not exist without The Public.

Conservative morality fits the family of the strict father, who is the ultimate authority, defines right and wrong, and rules through punishment. Self-discipline to follow rules and avoid punishment makes one moral, which makes it a matter of individual responsibility alone. You are responsible for yourself and not anyone else, and no one else is responsible for you.

In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it’s a moral issue.

These conservative ideas at the moral level have been pushed since Ronald Reagan via an extensive communication system of think tanks, framing specialists, training institutes, booking agencies and media, funded by wealthy conservatives. Wealthy progressives have not funded progressive communication in the same way to bring progressive moral values into everyday public discourse. The result is that conservatives have managed to get their moral frames to dominate public discourse on virtually every issue.

In Wisconsin, much if not most progressive messaging fed conservative morality centered around individual, not social, responsibility. Unions were presented as serving self-interest - the self-interests of working people. Pensions were not presented as delayed earnings for work already done, but as “benefits” given for free as a result of union bargaining power. “Bargaining” means trying to get the best deal for your own self-interest. “Collective” denies individual responsibility. The right wing use of “union thugs” suggests gangs and the underworld - an immoral use of force. Strikes, to conservatives, are a form of blackmail. Strikebreaking, like the strict father’s requirement to punish rebellious children, is seen as a moral necessity. The successful corporate managers, being successful, are seen as moral. And since many working men have a strict father morality both at home an in their working life, they can be led to support conservative moral positions, even against their own financial interests.

What about K-12 teachers? They are mostly women, and nurturers. They accepted delayed earnings as pensions, taking less pay as salary - provided their positions were secure, that is, they had tenure. In both their nurturance and their centrality to The Public, they constitute a threat to the dominance of conservative morality. Conservatives don't want nurturers teaching their children to be loyal to the “nanny state.”

The truth that The Public is necessary for the Private was not repeated over and over, but it needed to be at the center of the Wisconsin debate. Unions needed to be seen as serving The Public, because they promote better wages, working conditions, and pensions generally, not just for their members. The central role of teachers as working hard to maintain The Public, and hence The Private, also needed to be at the center of the debate. These can only be possible if the general basis of the need for The Public is focused on every day.

Scott Walker was just carrying out general conservative moral policies, taking the next step along a well-worn path.

What progressives need to do is clear. To people who have mixed values - partly progressive, partly conservative - talk progressive values in progressive language, thus strengthening progressive moral views in their brains. Never move to the right thinking you’ll get more cooperation that way.

Start telling deep truths out loud all day every day: Democracy is about citizens caring about each other. The Public is necessary for The Private. Pensions are delayed earnings for work already done; eliminating them is theft. Unions protect workers from corporate exploitation - low salaries, no job security, managerial threats, and inhumane working conditions. Public schools are essential to opportunity, and not just financially: they provide the opportunity to make the most of students’ skills and interests. They are also essential to democracy, since democracy requires an educated citizenry at large, as well as trained professionals in every community. Without education of the public, there can be no freedom.

At issue is the future of progressive morality, democracy, freedom, and every aspect of the Public - and hence the viability of private life and private enterprise in America on a mass scale. The conservative goal is to impose rule by conservative morality on the entire country, and beyond. Eliminating unions and public education are just steps along the way. Only progressive moral force can stop them.

The Little Blue Book is a guide to how to express your moral views and how to reveal hidden truths that undermine conservative claims. And it explains why this has to be done constantly, not just during election campaigns. It is the cumulative effect that matters, as conservatives well know. your social media marketing partner


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+21 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-12 11:00
Here is another take on it:

From labor uprising to election disaster
Lance Selfa, author of The Democrats: A Critical History, now republished in an updated edition, explains the lessons of labor's defeat in the Wisconsin recall election.

June 12, 2012

SOCIALISTS HAVE long described the Democratic Party as "the graveyard of social movements." There was no better illustration of that description than the dissipation and defeat of the 2011 Wisconsin labor uprising at the polls on June 5--where Wisconsin's union-busting Republican Gov. Scott Walker won a convincing victory over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the gubernatorial recall election.

FIRST, THE demobilization of the massive and creative uprising allowed Walker to push through his attack. The shift of the labor upsurge into electoral channels crowded out the equally crucial task for workers to develop a strategy to resist union-busting and Walker's cuts in social programs.
+50 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-12 11:24
I think the writers are looking way too deep to understand the loss in WI. Gov. Walker had two very powerful tools at his disposal that (probably) turned the election his way. First he had money, third he had lots of money and fourth he had even more money. Second he had the power of incumbency, which has been overlooked.

As has been documented, he lied about balancing the budget. In reality he borrowed against the future. Most left wing friendly media has portrayed this as a ploy to give tax breaks to his corporate friends. In reality, it gave him the funds to make his claims plausable. His claims that he hired back laid off teachers and cops after cutting their pensions (another way to borrow against the future, but that is another issue). By exercising the authority he had as Governor, Scott Walker rigged the game. To be fair incumbants have been doing this type of thing since elections were invented. And of course, he had #1 #3 and #4 to make sure everyone knew that the teachers were back in school and the cops were on the beat.

What the authors say is likely true, but it can not be applied to specific elections, those revolve around real issues. But they are correct in pointing out that Progressives must do a better job selling the Progressive moral frame.
+38 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-12 11:56
The right wing and corporations are organized, but if the workers try to get organized that's some kind of taboo -- and that issue has to be confronted head on.

A major problem is the people have forgotten how to think and how to fight, but have let their so-called leaders (and the media) take over, and then they concede battle unfought.
+22 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-12 12:22

You are speaking of the intersection where frames meet reality. Nice point.
+25 # Mrcead 2012-06-12 13:06
Exactly! Often times, people sorely underestimate the need people as a group have to be told what to do and how to think. And who needs a cause to fight for and a need to feel important/invol ved more than the conservatives? Without it, their lives are without meaning and they would be forced to think for themselves and to many, that is an utterly dreadful thought.
+3 # RLF 2012-06-13 05:43
People don't need to be told how to think...they know what they think...they need to be told how to FEEL aboutwhat they think...which is more powerful and allows them to change what they think.
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-13 13:28
Distinguish between what to think and how to think -- the latter meaning 'critical thinking'. Yes, attention to emoptional reaction is important -- do some art and some meditation, and learn to use emotions as a servant rather than a master.

When something rubs you the wrong way, follow it down in your mind and learn why, and where the reaction comes from (such as conditioned fear, or bias) so you can compensate for that in your analysis.

The goal is to break free from the hegemony, the Matrix, and realize Steve Biko's insight: "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed".
+13 # AMLLLLL 2012-06-12 16:01
In WI, as John Nichols points out, since January they ran this ad with a woman (actress) talking about how recall elections amounted to sour grapes. Talk about programming! By election time most people were of the same 'mind'. No pushback from the Democratic party. None.
+3 # RLF 2012-06-13 05:40
I think you are wrong. Democrats have made the same mistake for thirty years. They argue facts against an emotional argument. Reps. are that way because it makes sense...they are that way because it FEELS good...and Dems have never given them a reason to feel this way or that...they just asked them to think and we know how most of America reacts to that expectation!
+27 # Lisa Moskow 2012-06-12 11:40
Thank you for this very valuable insight.

Unfortunately many people become liberals because they think they can benefit personally by a looser (less patriarchal) system--this describes many liberal office-holders. There is always an element of chaos in change.

Occupy is giving me some hope--these activists are walking the talk.
+18 # guomashi 2012-06-12 11:58
We get it.
What is the value of a self-destructiv e morality?
This is a lose-lose game.
Once morality is substituted for reality the game is already over.
+9 # Virginia 2012-06-12 13:11
This financial force majeure was patented to appear to be something it was not and the moral hazard shifted to the wrong party. Borrowers became unwitting shills for the securitized debt casino. The "loan" documents do not appear to have been mortgages and promissory notes - that was just bait..

Loan numbers were applied to the APPLICATION (form 1003), a software program that ALL the banks in the securitization scheme used and stored in an accessible data system - virtually eliminating privacy. The cartel trades information and debt. Once the borrower was in the system, his entire profile, habits and hobbies, friends and family were computed and his information is in the "system" for life. It operates as a seamless technology-driv en automated casino. Every bit of data is stored and made available to those packaging, betting and trading his debt.

It appears that the closest description of the "mortgage" transaction was a sale of securities to homeowners - without disclosure or proper

In essence, the banks paid the borrowers their information - but it will be nearly impossible for the banks to prove that they can retrieve and eliminate the borrowers' data completely from their computer systems (and all their shared members and affiliated entities). The damage has been done. This is the true morality issue - the solicitation and gambling of our privacy...under the guise of a mortgage.
+3 # RLF 2012-06-13 05:45
Nice point!
+5 # Jerry 2012-06-12 13:54
Unfortunately, those that rank morality above reality still vote, and more of those that don’t, don’t vote in their best interest. So if you care about surviving in a free country, you have to reach the reachable. For those that want to benefit by your destruction, your having a self-destructiv e morality, or attitude, is very valuable.
+36 # giraffee2012 2012-06-12 12:01
The Diebold machines' use in any election IS UNCONSTITUTIONA L when a candidate can accumulate negative votes in any county in any state in the USA. In 2000 Florida recorded negative votes for Gore in several counties.

One vote for each citizen. Diebold does not guarantee 1 vote for 1 citizen.

Take that to the U.S. Supreme Court -- even before asking them "how person hood" can be justified by anything written in the Constitution of the United States and how THEY could interfere in any state's election (i.e. Florida)

Shame on YOU R(oberts) A(lito) T(homas) S(calia) - resign.

Vote Dem Vote Obama (ask for a paper ballot)
+23 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-12 12:30
Exactly why I say Walker "probably" won the election. It is very disturbing that we are not sure anymore, especially when the solution is right in front of us. And there were some curious, but not damning, occurrences during the voting. Check Brad Freidnan is tireless at covering election issues.
+6 # AndreM5 2012-06-12 13:02
Paper ballots are probably not a solution either. In many counties they are not even counted, ever! Plus every state now uses optical scanners to read paper ballots, which are proven seriously error prone. Ultimately paper ballots are just as easily manipulated as electronic machines. The scanner is connected to the same servers after all.
+11 # bluepilgrim 2012-06-12 15:21
No -- they can be manipulated, but not as easily, and they are persistnat and canbe recounted, unlike a volatile record on a disk drive.
+7 # Jerry 2012-06-12 13:59
When have the dems congress people or president tried to correct this problem? I haven't seen it.
+23 # grouchy 2012-06-12 12:19
This piece gives some historical depth to the issue--thank you!

Progressives need to organize to educate the public on what the national traditions have been in the foundation of our civilization here--that is, sell the true story to counter the private spin.

There is also a fine tale of the morality of and cooperation among our citizens throughout our history which counters the myth of the pioneer Daniel Boon out in the wilderness holding his land against all threats, swinging his gun like a club as per John Wayne in the Alamo movie. They went into the wilderness in groups and they cooperated as groups. So spin the accurate history to counter the right wing spin.

Coin some counter-spin terms to express these simple concepts. The right wing is fantastic at creating these basic elements of their spin machine. Develop the vocabulary and use it over and over as per their technique. At least some balance should come from it. Keep in mind they have a total industry behind their propaganda and have their masters of spin (Rove for example).

And get truly organized and active around the movement to give some balance to the stories being told. Stop sitting calmly while we get slammed again and again!
+8 # asbpab1966 2012-06-12 13:11
It was Davy Crockett, not Daniel Boone at the Alamo.
-43 # jimattrell 2012-06-12 12:24
You said "In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others". Why is then that conservatives are far more generous in charitable giving than liberals? Is it because liberals feel that Government should care for people and not the individual? If it were not for successful small business owners charitable organizations would not exist. Just ask any of those charities that help the poor about their largest and most dependable financial supporters.
+27 # BradFromSalem 2012-06-12 12:56
I am not sure about your numbers, but what does the amount of money I donate to a charity have to do with who I vote for? Do your figures include time volunteered? How much of the charity giving by Conservatives is motivated by a potential tax deduction?

In a similar vein, it has been determined that Liberals, especially lower income Liberals give bigger tips.

What you are doing is changing the subject so to frame the argument in a manner that you will win. Its an excellent debating tactic, until you get called on it.
+17 # mozartssister 2012-06-12 13:41
Yes, there is SOME evidence that conservatives often give more to charity than liberals, depending on what study you cite, but I would argue that even if this is true it is because liberals generally do not view assign charity a central role in society. For liberals, charity simply cannot clean up all the messes that capitalism (or other predatory systems) create. Charity is crucial, but it is also unreliable, arbitrary, and random, and it is, alone, ultimately inadequate to meet the needs of everyone in society or solve our myriad problems.

As Lakoff says above, the underlying question is individual responsibility for the self versus for self AND others. Conservatives insist that they can spend "their" money the way they wish and often view taxation as "forced charity." But taxation is not charity--it is the fulfillment of the responsibility we have as individuals to support the society that supports us.

Without that idea of the Public, without a sense that each of us IS responsible not only for ourselves, but for our communities, society, and our country, and that that responsibility is fiscal as well as civic, we cannot have a healthy, functioning democracy. That is the progressive view. I think the facts bear it out.

Stephen King also talks about the idea of a greater responsibility for public wealth and the common good:
+22 # Hey There 2012-06-12 14:07
There wouldn't be such a need for charity if there were more equality in income. When workers are paid a living wages they have no need of charity and the handicapped and disabled shouldn't be relegated to a lifetime of poverty.
And what charities do the conservatives contribute to?
It is far easier to contribute to SELECT charities when the income is given by those with millions in yearly income while avoiding taxes and pushing to pay even less.
Try giving to a charity when income is just barely enough to go from payday to payday while Banks and Wall St. receive "charity by government" otherwise known as bailouts while Social Security, which workers have paid into are attacked by some of our Congressmen whose income is
$ 174,000.00 a year.
It would be interesting to note the amount charitable contributions lowers taxes.
If the conservatives really want to be charitable they would make every effort to see that every American has enough income so there would be little need for charity.
+14 # reiverpacific 2012-06-12 14:23
Quoting jimattrell:
You said "In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one’s self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others". Why is then that conservatives are far more generous in charitable giving than liberals? Is it because liberals feel that Government should care for people and not the individual? If it were not for successful small business owners charitable organizations would not exist. Just ask any of those charities that help the poor about their largest and most dependable financial supporters.

If your allegation is true (backup please), then I posit that the same Conservatives if you like -I prefer "Reactionaries" these days, wouldn't give a damn red cent to anything but the self-interest-l obbied-for "causes" that they get big tax breaks for and loudly self-congratula te themselves for "supporting".
"Liberals" tend to be supported (when the voting isn't rigged and voter-rolls purged) by the lower demographic of the population who don't have anything spare to give from their daily struggle to stay fed, clothed and roofed.
The criminal health-care NON system here, which becomes more exclusive by the month, is a good example of something that should be taken out of private for-profit hands and made universally available by progressive taxation, like infrastructure.
And B.T.W., I'm a struggling small-business owner (these days).
+19 # Robert B 2012-06-12 14:28
An army of one. A charity of one. A nation of one. Ayn Rand on steroids. Reminds me of Lily Tomlin's line: "We're all in this alone."
+12 # Jerry 2012-06-12 14:28
I haven't seen data to back your statements, but I'll pretend they are accurate. Is wealth balanced between conservatives and progressives? The authoritarian mindset doesn't preclude a generous bent, and if one has such, and has more to spare, generosity would result. And yes, progressives do believe government should have a safety net, partially because the charities can't handle the load, and often have strings attached that are not acceptable to all that live in deplorable conditions and suffer inhumanely. Also, I wonder if you're including in charities ones that provide non essential goods and services. An element that doesn’t fit your framing is progressives perceive that even sociopaths should have to support the common good.
+10 # Jerry 2012-06-12 14:38
I think I will order a couple of the books for my family and progressive friends. I was impressed with Lakoff's book, "Don't Think of An Elephant," which introduced me to the fact that when people incounter a fact not presented in a frame or metaphor they accept, they forget the fact, and stick with what they have accepted previously.
+2 # SundownLF 2012-06-12 18:45
Can anyone say 'tax breaks'? Given by the government, by the way.
+6 # Skippydelic 2012-06-12 20:40
Liberals give to charity because they believe in the cause.

Conservatives give to charity for the tax write-off.
+8 # MidwestTom 2012-06-12 12:27
Rather than attack the unions, Illinois just announced that they are dropping 25,000 from Medicaid, and dropping senior drug assistance for 180,000 seniors. This with a Democratic Governor and legislature.
+11 # LeeBlack 2012-06-12 13:08
Tom, that is really bad news It should be getting more media attention.
-31 # Robt Eagle 2012-06-12 12:59
You are responsible for yourself and not anyone else, and no one else is responsible for you. The authors indicate that this is the morality of Conservatives. They are wrong totally to say this because Conservative care deeply for others as is shown by their charity and donations to worthy causes. Also, many conservatives give their time and personal efforts to help those less fortunate and who deserve the nations thanks, like our warriors who have been harmed in battle. I know dozens of Conservatives who personally give not only monetary gifts to causes such as the Wounded Warrior Project, but aldo donate their time and talents to assist these brave warriors to engage in many physical activities and strengthen the warriors minds and bodies. Surely there are many liberals out there as well doing the same. Combined they are called Americans.
+28 # cherylpetro 2012-06-12 14:09
"Conservatives" do charitable works to get tax write-offs and to launder money! What a laugh to think the "Conservatives" in government care about ANYONE but themselves! Look at their voting records! They had to be shamed into voting to help our 9/11 DYING HEROES! The Republicans wanted to have tax exempt status FIRST for OUTSOURCED COMPNIES, BEFORE they would give a DIME to help the DYING HEROES who risked their LIVES to save Americans in the collapsing buildings! Republican Tom Coluburn was going to FILIBUSTER AGAINST HELP FOR OUR HEROES, UNTIL THE HEROES CAME TO HIS OFFICE AND SHAMED HIM ON CAMERA! Republicans got their tax exempt status for companies outside of our country, who will NOT provide ANY revenue for the USA, OR JOBS! I WISH REPUBLICANS WOULD FIGHT FOR AMERICANS, NOT OUTSOURCED COMPANIES THAT ONLY GIVE REPUBLICAN BENEFACTORS MONEY! HOW UNAMERICAN IS THAT? VERY! REPUBLICANS VOTED AGAINST MONEY TO HELP FEED POOR MOTHERS AND BABIES! Republicans voted down extending unemployment benefits for the jobless right at the holiday season! They wanted the BUSH TAX CUTS as their HOSTAGE bargaining chip! They got what they wanted, a 3% tax break for the most wealthy, at the expense of jobless AMERICANS! (AND WHERE ARE THE JOBS? THEY CREATED NONE!) Those are only a few examples of Republican heartlessness! Those people would not be charitable, unless it BENIFITTED THEMSELVES VERY WELL!! THERE IS NO COMPASSION IN "CONSERVATIVES! " THEY CONSERVE NOTHING BUT THEIR OWN WEALTH!
-30 # jimattrell 2012-06-12 15:46
Wow, you just pretty much described how Democrats were where I live before we threw them out of office. Democrats are now rare here, our unemployment is low, people are moving here in droves, business leaders support our charities and our arts,, our crime is low, our parks are beautiful, and unions are non-existent. Are you happy where you live (doesn't sound like it)? Don't you think that six years of Democrat rule and spending under Harry Reid is enough?
+10 # cherylpetro 2012-06-12 14:10
Get off your Ayn Rand high horse! It just sounds mean and selfish; not compassionate AT ALL!
+23 # Rudy 2012-06-12 12:59
While George Lakoff is right on many points, this reader also thinks we need to start questioning the machines that count the votes. It has been proven in multiple tests by multiple engineers that the machines in use can be hacked without leaving a trace.
If you haven't read up on this I would suggest regularly reading The Brad Blog and
Black Box Voting
To paraphrase the famous quote in Clinton's war room, "It's the economy Stupid!" In this case "IT'S THE MACHINES STUPID!"
+22 # LeeBlack 2012-06-12 13:07
I understand how conservative 'morality' focuses on a 'responsibility for self' but their other moral values include telling others how to live their lives: No abortions, no gay marriage, limited voting rights, etc.

Most people who label themselves Conservative would jump right in to help a neighbor who's house is burning or even a stranger in a wrecked car. To me it seems that Conservatives haven't made that link to 'common good', they seem to be unable to see the individuals among the many.

I remember Tip O'Neil describing a discussion with Ronald Reagan where Tip was describing an individual in his district who would be burdened by a cut in social security benefits. Reagan immediately wanted to help that individual. Tip was unable to get across the point that that particular individual was an example of many others who would suffer in the same way.
+11 # Robert B 2012-06-12 14:26
Romney did something similar recently when he gave $50 to some woman who was complaining about the Republicans cuts in services.
+21 # Majikman 2012-06-12 14:40
LeeBlack, very good point. I talk about my asshole brother, the rabid conservative, who would give someone he knows the shirt off his back if that person were in trouble. He's retired from a union job with a pension anyone would envy. His union job afforded him a beautiful home, college educations for his kids, a high standard of living and great health bennies. He hates unions and thinks they should all be abolished because they protect the one or two lousy workers from being fired.
The mind set of a true conservative asshole.
+20 # josephmichael1949 2012-06-12 13:09
The game has been lost since Reagan was allowed to not only get away with but prosper under the banner proclaiming that government was not the solution but the problem. When citizens hate their government, as with the signers of that declaration we celebrate next month, the natural consequence should be armed rebellion. Reagan's miracle is that he fomented not rebellion but a reactionary renaissance that has allowed a minority party to govern like it was the majority. The landed gentry that is the modern GOP commands the loyalty of lemmings who cannot see their way through to voting their own self-interest. We proclaim the colonists as patriots, but we know that, had they lost the struggle, they would have been hung as traitors. Reagan attacks the American government and is proclaimed the consummate patriot. This is death spiral politics that the Right is playing and, while they may have moments of victory as in Wisconsin, the house of cards must ultimately collapse.
+18 # JH Gordon 2012-06-12 13:23
It's just fine to autopsy why we're not winning against right wing conservatism, but it all gets back to the power of money in our elections.

Nader puts it well when he advocates the MSM public airwaves be required to give equal time to all candidates. That would negate a lot of the corporate money problem. But the real deal is getting money out of politics all together. That takes each of us taking responsibility for demanding democracy.

The first question to ask of others and ourselves is what democracy is. Then the question; Do we now live in a democracy? Then, if not, why not? The answer is universal. With it we create focus and purpose.

It's the money that buys the Right their power. We can deal with it if we get on point, get mad, and get even. Nothing happens until we do. We have to accentuate the fundamental.
+15 # LeeBlack 2012-06-12 15:00
I was in California in 1968 when Ronald Reagan ran against Jessie Unruh. Unruh was a consummate politician but ran a horrible campaign. I finally figured it out - Reagan had about 20 times the money that Unruh had.

Just think - without that money in that California election we never would have had 'trickle down economy'
+13 # asbpab1966 2012-06-12 13:24
Conservatives give more to charity because they HAVE more to give. To ease their guilty conscience. Government can take care of the poor far more efficiently than a hotch-potch of private charities. Many of the rich give to big charities who use professional fund-raisers who make obscene amount of money. Government does not have that problem; it costs no more to collect a 30% tax on millionaires than a 10% tax. Giving food purchased at retail to a food pantry is terribly inefficient; Government gets commodities at bulk rates. By the way, do charities keep a register as to whether their donors are
liberal or conservatives? Liberals may give their charity directly to the poor people; no tax deduction, no record. Many private charities, even if not a House of Worship, have a religious agenda. To receive charity from your local neighbors, as opposed to a faceless government in Washington or the State Capital, can be embarrassing. "Largest...fina ncial supporters," are generally the rich who are usually conservative.
+24 # cherylpetro 2012-06-12 13:50
+4 # catoll 2012-06-12 13:56
As always, and particularly as a Wisconsinite, I value what Lakoff says. However, I do question his perspective on how teachers are framed. I don't think teachers are framed as nurturers so much as they are framed as charity workers. (Ergo the emphasis on how awfully they are paid when in reality they earn a solid middle-class wage. As professionals should they earn more? Yes. But teachers are not poor.) Those charity workers who then ask for better pay and benefits are framed as unnatural and greedy -- charity workers are supposed to work for the love of the cause and are not supposed to take care of their own needs.
+2 # RicKelis 2012-06-12 14:05
The desired moral sphere George Lakoff wishes us to reach can be accessed through the aesthetic sphere -- that's through feeling-generat ing works of art and especially music--since music and sound pre-exist all other manifestations in the grand scheme of things. The aesthetic communicates at a level that bypasses the easily-influenc ed mind that reaches opinions and acts out of mere convictions rather than facts. Singing the "Wisconsin Blues" will go a long way in curing the "Wisconsin Blues," metaphorically speaking :-)
+17 # Robert B 2012-06-12 14:14
Scott Walker is a perfect example of the "stealth candidate" who lies and lies and lies during the campaign about his true motives. Once in office, the mask comes off. This was a tactic cooked up by fascist choirboy Ralph Reed 30 years ago, and it has now become standard operating procedure for the Republican Party. If you have an agenda so extreme that nobody would vote for you, what else could you do but lie? It took more than two years to force a recall election. The far right-wing nuts poured millions into the state to buy the election, which used to be illegal until the far right-wing nuts on the Supreme Court gave us the Citizens United ruling. Once these people get into a position of power, it's very difficult to get rid of them. The key point is that they will tell any lie, and I mean ANY LIE, to gain power. I will not ever vote for another Republican. And neither should you if you love this country.
+8 # LegendBert 2012-06-12 14:43
Neither policy nor morality are at issue. The Conservatives use catch phrases like "Union Thugs" that the voters can understand. The Dems reply with a 35,000 word treatise that nobody understands. Endless debate ensues.

If the Unions, for example, advocated efficient, affordable government while protecting workers' rights, that would play well with the voters. Even I can understand that!
+14 # reiverpacific 2012-06-12 14:59
As Wisconsin clearly showed, the Democratic Party will continue to be the gullible "Nice and P.C." party of; let's face it, the bouregoise PBS mentality, which is ripe for scuppering by the huge armory of ruthless and dirty tricks the right has up it's well-greased sleeve.
They need to purge themselves of milquetoast "Blue-Dogs" like Barrett, who was about as stupid an anything-but-pr ogressive-candi date as any party without a lick of common-sense could have run against a Koch-pimp like Walker. As my daughter -who lives in Madison disgustedly put it "Barrett did an Al Gore" and threw in the towel early.
We need a "Socialist Pride" party every bit as hard and as uncompromising as the proto-Fascists currently running things and the country into the depths of despair and stupidity from it's constant attacks on the tattered remains of what public education there is; -and that's just how THEY want it!
+2 # Shorey13 2012-06-12 15:09
Lakoff has his viewpoint, and he's entitled to it, but it has its limits. There is a social context which dominates the individual context he describes. I have just posted on my blog (which can be seen via my web site, a comprehensive review of a book published in 1932 (and updated in 1960) by Reinhold Niebuhr, "Moral Man and Immoral Society," which provides a much larger context for this discussion. Among many other things, Niebuhr is appropriately critical of "educational and spiritual intellectuals," all of whom come from the comfortable middle class, and all of whom share the delusion that reason alone can lead us out of this mess. Check it out.
+8 # Hey There 2012-06-12 15:22
It's like playing chess or more simpler games such as Chinese Checkers and Checkers. Moves are made to gain an advantage later on. Only this isn't a game.
Blasting unions is the current issue but the Senate quietly passed S1789 on 4-25-12 which, if passed, by the House and signed by the President would reduce compensation for federal injured workers, end it for those over 65 & eliminate 100,000 postal jobs at a time when the Gov. is said to be creating job programs. For other workers continuing "living wages" and benefits would be at risk with new rules for settling union contracts.
Check out the following 3 videos

Passage of the PAEA in 2006 mandating that the USPS fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10 at 5.5 Billion a year set the USPS up for financial failure which was used as an excuse to cut service to the public and lower wages.
Before passage of PAEA, despite a reduction in mail, some questionable financial decisions made by management the USPS's INCOME = COSTS.
Hopefully there's a move that Issa, Lieberman,Colli ns haven't anticipated that will defeat S1789 and HR2309 and their move to Checkmate" wages and benefits of postal workers will be circumvented
by a move by the Unions and members of Congress that believe in fair wages for workers.
-22 # JMAX 2012-06-12 15:27
Wisconsin, San Diego , and San Jose taxpayers got it right. To protect ourselves from uncontrollable pension costs in the public sector ,increases in the normal retirement age to age 67 for full pension benefits must be made. Benefits before that age must bear the same reductions that we all will incur with early claiming of Social Security benefit. Any benefits greater than that are unaffordable for tax payers.. Revised provisions for police and fire personnel can be made. It will be a challenging change for workers but less of a change than private sector workers had to make many years ago.
+16 # Jerry 2012-06-12 16:16
I don't know about your state, but Oregon government workers accepted lower wages for better benefits. If the same in your state, are you going to raise their wages to a normal professionals' level with similar education, training, experience, and working coditions?
-3 # JMAX 2012-06-12 21:07
Minnesota... They have higher salaries and generous benefits. In my opinion the only thing that must go are the very early retirement dates. That applies to most states... Utah has a money purchase pension so zero liabilities or costs for ANY retired employees. Iowa is changing their early retirement benefits effective 7/1/12. Those Island cut their pensions last year I believe. They slashed currently retired employees, which I HATE to see.
-15 # JMAX 2012-06-12 16:24
During the globalization process all developed nations will see reduced incomes as the world economy develops. To survive this process the US needs to continue to see productivity increases by workers ( this is currently happening), competitive corporations and lean government with balanced budgets. Anything less than this will cause unnecessary additional pain by American workers . I remain an independent as I see too much emotion and little clear thinking by both extremes. We need to focus on America and quit the CYA attitudes.
+6 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-06-12 17:09
JMATTRELL -- Where DO YOU LIVE? I want to move there. And, of course you can find me a job too in your little Paradise.
-9 # jimattrell 2012-06-12 22:35
Come to North Texss but don't expect handouts. On the other hand... The American Dream is alive and well here.
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-06-13 09:09
Quoting jimattrell:
Come to North Texss but don't expect handouts. On the other hand... The American Dream is alive and well here.

Along with compulsory prayer in schools and other "freedoms"???? Some dream!
-12 # dloehr 2012-06-12 18:33
There's a sense in which liberals have a political "purity code," used as a religion. Recycling, separating glass from plastic, etc., is felt to be "what responsible people do." Behind this may be two things. One, the silent acknowledgment that they (liberals) really have no power anywhere, so all that's left is to live by a code of "purer than thou." Second, that's living in Disneyland, nor reality. Historically, the purer-than-thou movements were utopian communities like the Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Jains, etc. They're marginal and marginalized.

Another point is that Lakoff is dead right in ranking morality above self-interest, and right in saying the conservatives have been riding the "morality" train for over 30 years, while liberals still seem to think that if we can just show people that we know the right thing to do, then they'll naturally want to do it. There's no contest between the two sides: conservatives win, unless liberals learn to make (first, to believe) a moral argument. Abortion rights are being lost in the same way. Trying to tell people that the life of a fetus/baby is only about "a woman's right to choose" is insulting. Unless a good moral argument can be made, abortion subordinates life to a "rights" issue. It's too bad the abortion debate got framed in the 70s, as part of the women's movement. Then, it fit the times to claim a "right to choose." No more.
+4 # Majikman 2012-06-12 19:32
Oh you poor dear, you haven't a clue.
-11 # JMAX 2012-06-12 19:38
Our little paradise in the US has predictably slipped some the past few years. The Federal debt has skyrocketed under Obama plus the debt to China for financing both wars plus paying nearly $1 trillion dollars to pay for Libya's civil war have put us in the dangerous position of Federal debt that we may never be able to pay. I was hoping for a pacifist President , but am terribly disappointed. Just think what we could have done with even 10% of our wasted war dollars! How about eliminating homeless US citizens for a start. I think we do need change now!!!
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-13 04:32
All of this debate is pointless if what Bill McKibbon wrote in another RSN blog is true. I've had a bumper sticker on my car for about 15 years that says "More jobs? What about less people?" The world is over-breeding itself not only out of good jobs, but out of resources and a sustainable environment.

Over-population both creates and exacerbates all of the environmental problems we are now dealing with, and it's my guess they are connected to all the other problems as well. One's priorities change when one is faced with the prospect of contaminated food, water and air. If you vote against anyone, vote agains the people who are in denial of our envirionmental problems. I'm guessing most of them are conservatives.

If we can't sustain our environment, there will be no PUBLIC, and the deniers will go along with the rest of us. Point that out to them. As Ben Franklin said "We either hang together, or we will surely hang separately."
+6 # bingers 2012-06-13 05:10
Cutting government spending during a recession always exacerbates the problem which is why Republicans want to do it to destroy Obama. They didn't worry about increasing spending exponentially under Reagan and the Bushes. We can see the result of austerity by watching Europe, which stupidly has embraced austerity, slipping back into a bad recession.

In truth, Obama has increased spending less than any Republican in recent times. And for the teapublicans amongst us, we have the lowest taxes since 1950. With the second lowest spending in relation to GDP among all developed nations only trailing Taiwan, the under taxation, not overspending is the source of our problems.
+3 # sharsand 2012-06-13 06:54
The Right is hypocritical and amoral. They will do anything to win, and I mean anything. It's one thing to be patriarchal, which in my opinion is bad enough, but it's another thing to do anything at all to "succeed" in business, politics, and war--success at any cost means destroying the lives of others with their greed, repressing legal voters, and going to wars based on lies with other peoples' children. Progressives have to point that out over and over again, but we don't get our message out. We do have a good message, but now that the patriarchal members on the Right control the media, it's difficult since Fox seems to be the only source of non-news (aka as lies, race-baiting, xenophobial, and fear) they listen to. And Professor Lakoff, instead of lecturing us, you should get out to more events, be more accessible to the progressive public, stop just pushing your books, and help us draw large crowds to hear your inspiring words of wisdom.
0 # dick 2012-06-13 09:07
People STRONGLY needed to punish someone for TheCrash. Obama protected Wall St.; unionized workers took the heat.
Walker's re-election is an extension of 2010 catastrophe, caused by Obama. Obama has virtually nuked progressives, including HORRIFIC Obamacare gift to Big Pharma & criminal insurers. Hopefully, sicko Court will bounce fatally flawed giveaway to rich.
+7 # ABen 2012-06-13 11:56
Dick, exit poling strongly indicates that Wis. voters simply didn't think a recall based on policy issues was a good idea. That same poling also indicates a sizable margin in favor of Obama.
On your other assertions, had Bush and Obama not bailed out the banking industry, there is a VERY good chance that commerce--all commerce--in the U.S. would have come to screeching halt; ugly but true. Had this administration attempted to prosecute Wall Street moguls, how long do you think Obama would have remained alive--think about it. The Affordable Care Act, which should have come with a "single payer" component, will save millions over the next decade while extending health care coverage to hundreds of thousands who had none. The time to re-adjust the details will come after the populace realizes that it is a good start toward a 21st century solution to health care coverage. We Progressives must be careful about making the perfect the enemy of the good.
0 # charsjcca 2012-06-16 09:17
This is a good item to consider. Ex slaves adopted the curriculum of the slave master and their descendants now wonder how it happened> As the late Fannie Lou Hamer was to say, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." Apparently, the remnants of the so-called "Greatest Generation" are not tired of being sick and tired. They send their sons and daughter to distant lands to suppress the aspirations of the indigenous peoples of the world. They call it patriotism, but never ask the victims how they like it, if they like. In the 1960s those involved in the student movement sought to bring enlightenment to the blue collar workers. Nothing happened. After Watergate they said it's not big think, just criticism from a bunch of slackers.
They deserve what is being served to them on a tin plate, while sleeping under a bridge.

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