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Lakoff writes: "Donald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and perhaps the next president. Democrats have little understanding of why he is winning - and winning handily; and even many Republicans don't see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him."

Donald Trump holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg)
Donald Trump holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg)

Why Trump?

By George Lakoff, Reader Supported News

06 March 16


onald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and perhaps the next president. Democrats have little understanding of why he is winning -- and winning handily; and even many Republicans don't see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him, but don't know how. There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don't think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And why Trump?

Many people are mystified. He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don't fit a common mold.

He likes Planned Parenthood, Social Security, and Medicare, which are not standard Republican positions. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and love the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP trade deal), but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop all Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background not discussed in the media to date.

Some Background

I work in the cognitive and brain sciences. In the 1990's, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father's authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don't prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others -- who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said,

"Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories -- deserved victories.

Consider Trump's statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don't get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, Our Country above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above non-Whites, Christians above non-Christians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition -- who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn't that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be "born again" by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to "family values," which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative -- male or female -- may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer -- cheaply and confidentially.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don't want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don't deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans' anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn't import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him -- American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don't look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government -- government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees' health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes -- often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump's policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico -- build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them -- even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer -- the government -- take bids for the lowest prices. If ISIS is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten ISIS leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, gays -- and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call "bigots." For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable. As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the un-American nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call "political correctness" -- public pressure against their views and against what they see as "free speech." This has become exaggerated since 9/11, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel -- with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don't even have to express their "politically incorrect" views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words "political correctness" remember this.


There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump's views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump's views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don't Think of an Elephant! It doesn't matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in "traditional family values" -- a conservative code word -- and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump been Winning in the Republican Primaries?

Look at all the conservatives groups he appeals to!

The Democratic Party has not been taking seriously many of the reasons for Trump's support and the range of that support. And the media has not been discussing many of the reasons for Trump's support. That needs to change. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+54 # tswhiskers 2016-03-06 13:13
Yes, it does seem that many white Americans are charmed by Trump largely because he confidently voices many of their own prejudices. I do blame the TV media for much of his popularity. The corporate hunger for ratings has helped to make his views not only palatable but respectable. As usual Mr. Lakoff has again explained how it is that seeming opposites can coincide in the human mind. If I'm not mistaken, Clinton and Trump have already begun to gird their loins for the coming fracas prior to the Nov. election. Good luck, Hillary. You are not my preferred candidate, but at least Bernie has (I hope) helped to modify your views.
+3 # Ralph 2016-03-06 14:49
This is a solid article. That said, Lakoff was clearly raised in a father dominated family. Maybe not the conservative "father knows best" family but the family of the intellectual father who ran the show behind the scenes. Ergo his absurd reference that Obama is a liberal. Next he'll tell us that Clinton is a liberal. These petty bourgeoisie liberals like Lakoff are a dime a dozen. Raised by fathers who believed in the American dream while we rampaged our way through Korea, Vietnam, South and Central America. Velvet glove fascist fathers, they had the chains on the likes of Lakoff and they don't even know it. The cuffs were soft and felt good. Time to dispel this right wing pile of goods. The narrative is bogus. The US is so far right, Lakoff thinks he's fooling people when he points right of foul from the middle of right field. Here's an old chestnut from 04. Worth the read.
+35 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 21:01
He said Obama has certain liberal views that angers conservatives, not that Obama is an actual liberal. We know he is a centrist who took the Wall Street money. But he does in fact have some liberal positions. Gay marriage, abortion and gun control just to name a few of the prominent ones. The nuclear deal with Iran and refusing the Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Iran campaign would be another. Die hard far right conservatives, who he is describing here, paint these as "liberal" positions clearly.
+21 # lorenbliss 2016-03-06 21:02
Let us, in our discussion of Mr. Lakoff's superbly useful analysis, be sufficiently discerning to forgive him what Ralph denounces as "his absurd reference that Obama is a liberal."

Instead, let us remember that "liberal" is precisely how Obama presented himself to the voters, especially with the unprecedented Big Lie of "change we can believe." It was only after election that Obama the Orator shape-shifted into his true self, Barack the Betrayer.

Let us also remember how the Betrayer achieved re-election in 2014: by peddling Big Lies of blame and denial, claiming he was not a betrayer but rather the victim of racist Republican intransigence.

Moreover, let us reflect on the circumstances of those elections: the Republicans' nomination of grotesquely unsuitable candidates, and the Mainstream Media barrages that secured Obama's election.

Reflect next on the undisputed fact that Mainstream Media -- owned as it is by the same One Percenters who own all USian governments and politicians -- is indeed our species' first for-profit government propaganda ministry. (Josef Goebbels would be ecstatic.)

Then note the publicity patterns of the present presidential campaign: maximum exposure for der Trumper, near-total censorship for Sanders, who is not a politician but a true humanitarian crusader.

Now finally ask yourself: what has the (pragmatic conservative) One Percent engineered here? Toward what end?

Such is the inestimable value of Mr. Lakoff's work.
+25 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 21:35
And is Hillary liberal in any way? She asks for gun manufacturers to be sued for Sandy Hook tonight and shamed Bernie for not doing so. Would it not be the government itself that failed to properly restrict the gun manufacturers that should be named in the suit? They are the ones that made it legal to possess the AR-15 used, and not the manufacturer. And how ironic to sue a gun manufacturer when you are the biggest peddlers of firearms overseas in the open and black markets, far greater than China and Israel even now? How many Glocks have we put on the streets all over Europe, Latin America and Asia? It is hypocritical and shameful. Its almost like Hillary never saw Killing for Columbine and accepted the thesis, when we are at war and killing abroad these shooting at home escalate in parallel, ALWAYS. I am for gun control. Always have been. But lets get serious. You can't be gun peddlers and expect progress as home. Period. The corruption is intrinsically linked.
+2 # jwl 2016-03-07 12:39
Quoting fletch1165:
... How many Glocks have we put on the streets all over Europe, Latin America and Asia?....

Um, "Glock Ges.m.b.H. is a weapons manufacturer headquartered in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria, named after its founder, Gaston Glock." Not that the U.S. doesn't have a branch, but let's keep the details straight, please.
+3 # fletch1165 2016-03-07 22:12
Many Glocks were found to have come from sales in Iraq by the U.S. and ended up in the Balkans. FACT
+4 # fletch1165 2016-03-07 22:16
Google "Glocks from Iraq found in Balkans" and let me know what comes up. I am there now and its all over. randomly selecting one, from gunpolicy dot org "Turkey Traces Gun Crime to Flood of Glock Pistols Supplied by US to Iraq."
+4 # fletch1165 2016-03-07 22:25
Indeed the U.S. has its Branch, the Glock Plant in Smyrna Georgia. So which detail are you contesting/stra ightening out again? I'm not indicting the manufacturer. I'm indicting our government for selling them on the black market. Don't care if they are Austrian or American Glocks. Same difference.
+1 # End Endless Wars 2016-03-08 08:59
Please support this petition asking Elizabeth Warren to endorse Bernie... then pass it on... maybe we can help move things in his favor.
+7 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:24
Let's not forget...Loren. .. that much of President Obama's attempt at liberal policies was indeed blocked by one of the most obstructionist congresses in history. Since YOU were not in those "meetings" where issues were haggled over and compromises reached, by president Obama to get the many of his progressive policies passed, it behooves you to take a closer look at your Barack the Betrayer label for president Obama.
+8 # Aliazer 2016-03-07 18:45
bmiluski, did you forget that Mr Obama is the principal sponsor of TPP, totally and completely anathema to the best interests of working people?
+2 # MsAnnaNOLA 2016-03-07 18:15
Yes indeed. No mention in Lakoff's piece about how Trump like Bernie is not taking the pac money of the one percent. No mention at all. No mention that trump is against the tpp which every American should abhor since it gives away our sovereignty. No mention of Trump promising to release the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 report telling us who really perpetrated 9/11. So yeah only poor racist people will support Trump. I think many will be surprised. Many of his comments have been exaggerated or take out of context.
+6 # DaveEwoldt 2016-03-06 21:56
Lakoff is good with the core cognitive neuroscience stuff, but tends to go off into left field with his conclusions.

I've always seen Lakoff as too Cartesian, which is why he's such a good neoliberal and Democratic Party apologist. He tries to use complexity theory, but can't understand how people can hold more than one thought at a time in their head just because the logical chains don't agree with his own.

But this is common in the field. I keep waiting for cognitive neuroscience to discover systems science.
+3 # tgemberl 2016-03-07 13:47
"This is a solid article" yet "Lakoff thinks he's fooling people"? What is solid about it if Lakoff is that unable to be objective, according to you and several others here?
+7 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-06 18:44
I think Ralph is saying that Lakoff accepts Empire, and tends to pay insufficient attention to bloodthirsty greed, avaricious lust for gore and power/CONTROL, and the tribalistic influence of misleading cognitive dissonance reduction. Ralph? I would like to know what Lakoff thinks about the macro issues, not just the extremely clever analysis of black box micro items.
+17 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-06 18:52
I think there may be other cultures with domineering FATHERS who are not as racist & imperialistic as we are? There may be some cultures with "supportive" fathers who are quite aggressive. I think there are serious progressives with Domineering fathers, and "conservatives" with "supportive" fathers. Lots of folks raised in virtually fatherless homes/families. I think Trump is drawing out & revealing political psychology that has almost nothing to do with liberal-conserv ative continuum. Fascinating. Important to understand. I think the LOSS of VN War, 9-11 HUMILIATION, rise of non-white China, and sweeping cultural and technological changes, reaction, are very influential. Decline of white, Christian, male, Dominance, CONTROL, status.
+8 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 21:11
Fidel Castro was also a dictator and 100% domineering father. However he is also 100% leftist. You are right. It is a form of political psychology though too, more specifically political pathology. He will say anything to reach the numbers he needs to get elected. He is ripping the South. Let's see how he does in blue and swing states once it becomes a general. Bernie will destroy all of these categories of people listed above with the vote from non-white, youth and women who in the end make up the majority. It won't just be the liberals clearly. We don't have that many.
+44 # kevenwood 2016-03-06 18:56
What you think about grows. Wise words from various mystics and great spiritual teachers.

Drumpf, his original name, is the topic of conversation on every news show and at countless dinner tables, water coolers, etc.

The problem is us. We seem unwilling to stop giving him our undivided attention.

The best way for him to fail, while counter intuitive, is to let him go, from your thoughts, emotions and your words.

Most political analysts feel he has a ceiling on support. Let's not contribute to momentum.
+9 # Nominae 2016-03-07 04:59

Well said, kevenwood, and 100% consistent with what mystics and spiritual teachers understand to be spiritual law.
+3 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:28
Unfortunately, Kevin, just as it is hard to look away from a car crash, so it is hard to look away from a Drumpf crash.
+29 # ChrisCurrie 2016-03-06 18:58
Many of Americas' social and financial problems can be largely solved or at least significantly alleviated by challenging the credentials of “white evangelical Christian” preachers who promote violations of the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself -principle (racism, bigotry, love-of-money, hate some of your neighbors, hate other religious groups, etc.). Jesus Christ made it clear in Matthews 22:37-40 that his entire ministry was based on that principle, so those who claim to represent Jesus Christ while promoting violations of the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself principle are BLATANTLY LYING. They are in effect “antichrists!”

Jesus Christ also taught in his “Good Samaritan” parable that we should NOT place restrictions on our definition of “neighbor.” The “strict father” ideology described in this George Lakoff article is clearly a violation of such teachings. It is founded on the “love of money” principle rather than the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself principle. Jesus taught that we should use OUR OWN eyes and ears to determine whether or not someone is following the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself principle and to see for ourselves whether or not their teachings were producing “fruits” that conform with the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself principle.

So preachers who falsely call themselves “Christian” while promoting violations of the love-your-neigh bor-as-yourself principle should be publically exposed as “liars” and “antichrists.” Force them to stick to the truth!
+21 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 21:18
How can they be Christian even if they don't emulate Jesus as best as they possibly can? I agree. Its a bastardization to believe you are Christian and the only requirement is you believe Christ died for you. That is not actually "accepting" Christ in my book. Its a sham and a crock. They need to look deeply in the mirror and stop lying. You cannot elect people that assist ethnic cleansing and murder in other countries and somehow take the higher moral ground. No way.
+15 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-03-06 21:33
& far too many forget that there are many sorts of evangelicals, & it is the fundamentalists who poison the well most deeply.
+10 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:30
I've said it before and I'll say it again....
Religion has nothing to do with God. It has everything to do with power and control.
+3 # lorenbliss 2016-03-07 21:22
Hear, hear. This is one point, bmiluski, upon which we most emphatically agree.
0 # Depressionborn 2016-03-09 19:43
"Religion" is mankind trying to get right with God, and wrongheaded. But there is no way for it to gain power and control unless it takes over government. Without government force religion has to leave us alone.

So what is bm worried about?
+18 # Carol R 2016-03-06 18:58
Here is a comment from the BBC concerning Trump. Headline: “Europe hates Trump. Does it matter?” by Katty Kay Presenter, BBC World News

“…the international reaction to Donald Trump is so forceful and so unanimous in its condemnation that it is worth drawing attention to. …It’s hard to know at this stage what impact foreign opinion will have in this race, but it’s fairly clear the world is not going to suddenly fall in love with the man Republicans are rapidly choosing to be their candidate for the White House.”

We still have a democratic, constitutional government. Who would Trump work with if he is elected? He is condemned by other Congressional Republicans and isn’t likely to get along with Democrats.
+8 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:33
I find it ironic that the repugs I've talked to ALL claim that they want the rest of the world to once again respect us. And whom do they rally around....Dumpf . A man that was the object of a debate in the British parliament as to whether or not to ban him from the country.
+2 # jwl 2016-03-07 12:47
Well, yeah, but Katty Kay, that brilliant British journalist, isn't an American, so what she says is suspect from the outset, in the view of those folks who support Mr. Drumpf, right? For the most part, as I recall it, the world pretty much hated George W. Bush, and that didn't impact U.S. voters very much, either.
+17 # dusty 2016-03-06 19:09
It is definitely time to get over religions almost all of which teach male supremacy in one form or another and subordination to the male god as leader. It was not by chance that the head of the nazis was the fuehrer(leader) and folks were told to invest their lives in the homeland and follow the leader. Our military, and others, maintain the ideal of follow the leader, another thing to quit believing in if one has any smarts.
+1 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:34
Actuallu, Dusty, it was the FATHERLAND that they were TOLD to honor.
0 # jwl 2016-03-07 12:51
Quoting dusty:
It is definitely time to get over religions almost all of which teach male supremacy in one form or another and subordination to the male god as leader.
I think maybe you mean almost all monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There are lots of other religions that have very different models of deity. I agree it's time to get over the monotheistic ones; some of the others can have value, perhaps.
0 # SHK 2016-03-07 20:47
It's not "religion" that causes the problem. What causes the problem is people interpreting the Bible according to their own desires rather than submitting their desires to the instructions in the Bible. Most of the religious right interprets the Bible to suit their preconceptions and desires, I'm sorry to say, rather than searching it to find its overriding principles concerning human behavior.
+23 # Floe 2016-03-06 19:18
God help us! Even though I am an atheist that's the first thing that comes into my mind. We are not children anymore and we don't need no fatherly figures. Both Republicans and Democrats still think we do. We have the opportunity now to decentralize politics by voting on issues and dispensing with the old world idea of someone representing us. It was all well and good when the average Joe couldn't read or write. But now we read and write frantically over our representative' s ridiculous antics - making back room deals, (like the TPP) handing away our sovereignty to corporations and taking us into interminable wars, etc. Daily, some egregious bill comes down the pike and we're back to chasing our It would take less time than now having to chase our Congresscritter yielding the usual big fat zero. We have the internet and can vote on the issues directly. We can vote on a project team to handle public projects not employ a deluge of public servants. To conduct ourselves thusly means everyone's voice has the same value. Unlike today where lobbyists and corporations pull the noose around the necks of our "representative s" and keep the public in ignorance. Corporations do not have a public soul. Politics is filling its field with nothing but mercenary types. Anyone with a public soul can't swim in those shark-infested waters. We can lay them off and send them packing, like we were laid off and replaced by computers. What a jolly day that will be when it's finally turned on them!
+3 # anarchteacher 2016-03-06 19:24


The Return of the Middle American Radical: An intellectual history of Trump supporters (originally posted at National Journal)

Donald Trump’s Policies Are Not Anathema to U.S. Mainstream, but an Uncomfortable Reflection of It

Ballot Law “Blowback” May Lead To GOP Disintegration

Trump and the Deep State

Trump and Organized Crime
+4 # eyarden 2016-03-06 19:40
Lakoff's reference to Trump as a pragmatist is hilarious. Pragmatism relies on a realistic world-view (or at least on a realist ontology). Trump, on the other hand spouts an idealist agenda that denies the personhood of aliens, peddling pathetic illusions about the efficacy of power. He has not the slightest idea of how social change occurs, believing that the future is something willed, Anyone who sees this as pragmatic either does not know what the word means.
+9 # torch and pitchfork 2016-03-06 20:08
Trump's supporters are a confederacy of dunces and should easily be defeated in a general election. Unless there are more dunces than the rest of us or once again they rig the election. It will be all hands on deck to prevent this from happening.
+8 # Nominae 2016-03-07 04:52
Quoting torch and pitchfork:
... or once again they rig the election....

As *easy*, and even quasi-legal as it is TO fix the elections, how can you imagine that they will NOT do *exactly* that again ?

They have made it illegal to open, much less to have a third party inspect, the software on Electronic Voting Machines which are *proven* to "flip" votes to pre-programmed selected candidates.

They have made it illegal to allow a voting machine to produce a paper receipt.

They have made other means of maintaining a paper trail illegal.

Add to that, gerrymandering, voter *suppression* laws, and Citizens United making it LEGAL to BUY elections, and why the hell would they *REFUSE* to fix an Election ?

They will certainly NOT be going to jail for election fixing in THIS country !

I hope that we are not now trusting Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, Wall Street, and the Military Industrial Complex to VOLUNTEER to keep elections honest !
+1 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:36
My suggestion then, would be to make sure we all work to get out to vote as many democrats as we can.
+23 # Promoting Peace 2016-03-06 20:15
Good article. I like that it points out the scariness and stupidity of only seeing a single tree, and not being able to see the whole forest.

Obviously, we are all connected on this planet. Probably no one totally makes 100% of what they need and use in their own lives.

And, this is only the materialistic aspect of life. We need the give & take of the emotions & interconnectedn ess of others for our health & well-being.

That being the case, it's extremely short-sighted, selfish, & foolish to think our actions don't impact others, & that other people's level of health & happiness don't impact us, for better or worse.

It's unbelievable to think that these politicians who constantly want to destroy our environment don't know what they're doing. Instead, I think they're just too greedy & selfish to care about anyone who comes after them. They will survive climate change, possibly make millions or billions in the process, & have no concern or empathy for anyone else.

I do feel this article shows that Trump, as scary as he is, isn't nearly as scary as Cruz, who seems to be 100% opposed to the common people. Cruz would make a great dictator, like a spoiled brat only wanting things totally his way.

In contrast, Trump does support some positive things, even if it is only so he or his buddies can make millions in the process.

Of course, no one compares to Bernie, who truly can see the whole picture, & understand that ever action has a corresponding effect.
+4 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:42
I think, Promoting Peace, what you're trying to say is that as greedy as Drumpf is, he would not kill the host's body. Where as Cruz would rather kill it rather than have it oppose him and his beliefs.
It's rather reminiscent of the Christian church during the Inquisition where a cardinal stated that he would rather see the demise of the human race then have any man sleep with a woman.
+14 # jouster 2016-03-06 20:30
Someone like Trump loves the attention; even if we're critical we are talking about him. Lakoff confirms that attention helps him, whether positive or negative.

The most effective thing we can do to counter Trump is to ignore him. Sadly, the media and the pundits are unable to do that.
+5 # kevenwood 2016-03-07 02:59
Yes, agreed, but the media is "unable" to do it because he gets ratings.

So, the problem is us. Like breaking news terrorism, plane crashes and celebrity car chases, we the people watch it, talk about it, care about it, and ultimately fuel it.

The media, while certainly partly to blame, is more of a conduit than the cause of his rise.
+2 # jwl 2016-03-07 12:58
Not "unable", jouster, just unwilling. Since the corporate goal for the media is to bring eyeballs to advertising, anything that tickles the fancy of people, for whatever reason, will be featured prominently.
+13 # Shorey13 2016-03-06 20:37
We are living through an existential crisis. Heraclitus' river is just moving to fast for most folks. Trump provides a false, but reassuring kind of "certainty" in a time of maximum uncertainty. Father, smather, Lakoff has been peddling this simplistic theory for years, with little or no support.

This is the beginning of another Axial Age (you should look it up on Wikipedia), and only completely new and different societal forms will serve. And, there is no guarantee that we will survive it. The first Axial Age introduced all the major religions and provoked a nascent rational reaction in Ancient Greece. But, this one is occurring in a very different world, one tied together by the Internet and armed with nuclear weapons.

Trump is only a symptom, folks. The first, probably of many. Be afraid.......
+5 # Nominae 2016-03-07 05:11
Quoting Shorey13:
... Be afraid.......

I was 100% behind you, Shorey, until those final two words turned your entire well written post into the equivalent of a Chicken Little screed.

*Anyone* promoting the politics of fear is ADDING to the problem.

Humans Beings do not SOLVE anything with their sphincter muscles clenched in fear. Terrified humans immediately go and hide under the bed, collapse into a fetal position, and simply shiver.

Unless frightened passivity IS what you are advocating, you may benefit from a reassessment of those closing two words.
+2 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:47
"Terrified humans immediately go and hide under the bed, collapse into a fetal position, and simply shiver."

I beg to differ Nominae. The right-wing-nuts are terrified of the changing world. So their first reaction is not to collapse in terror but to fight. (Ergo the tea-baggers.) And Drumpf is their general.
+1 # RNLDaWy 2016-03-06 20:37
This article is a grand example of why education is important and the valuable real study of psychology and human behaviour most important. This author breaks it down and nails much on the head. It is the understanding of why people think the way they do .. and best article ever on RSN .. er mostly Reader Supported Views biased as news .. except for this one ..
-2 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:55
Unfortunately, RNLDaWy...most of my repug acquaintances have college degrees. So education failed them.
+3 # SHK 2016-03-07 20:58
Quoting bmiluski:
"most of my repug acquaintances have college degrees"
What in? Business? Unless a little psychology and philosophy, not to mention history, literature, and what we used to call "social studies" are in the mix, I would call them "trained", not educated.
+18 # Lennie 2016-03-06 20:38
Talk, talk, talk!!! Why don't we just boil it down to the basics. Donald J. Trump is not fit to be the leader of our country. In any way, shape, or form. Period.
0 # jazzman633 2016-03-06 21:24
I expected more from a fellow highly-educated linguist (I came up in linguistics shortly after you, and I recall hearing your learned papers in Chicago).

Have you exposed Trump's rhetorical mannerisms and manipulations? Have you explicated his particular brand of BS? Don't leave it to the drama critics - linguistics has a lot to say about this manipulative phony.

You could have been exposing him all these months instead of watching from your comfy liberal perch. You could have chronicled every phase of his cognitive takeover of the angry white American psyche.

And you got caught in the false dilemma. There is indeed a third alternative to the current duopoly, invisible to the folks in Flatland: libertarianism.

To use George's family model, libertarians' parents gave them just the right balance of freedom, responsibility, and self-reliance.

There is nowhere to be found in the American government the heretical view that government really should be doing only what the Constitution allows (and STOP doing everything else), America should end the insane drug war, take a non-interventio nist foreign policy.

Yes, the government has to keep people from hurting and defrauding each other...but as I say to people who reject the libertarian POV: what have you got against freedom?

This could be the libertarians' moment. Or they'll get ignored again, and we get President Trump -- American Fuhrer, American Caligula, American disaster.
+9 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 21:57
When you say libertarian what do you mean? As Wikipedia points out there is much confusion in the term. Noam Chomsky has pointed this out too, that the modern meaning has little to do with the original definition of classic libertarianism. Wiki reflects this as well in its definition:

"Although the word libertarian continues to be widely used to refer to socialists internationally , its meaning in the United States has deviated from its political origins.[26][27 ] Libertarianism in the United States has been described as conservative on economic issues and liberal on personal freedom."

Sounds like Trump supporters not detractors.
+1 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 12:59
It has been my experience that ALL libertarianists that I know suddenly turn socialist when they need the government to survive. Then they have no trouble sucking on the government teat.
+1 # jazzman633 2016-03-09 11:30
I agree - the word has a broad range of meanings, but I would go with the definition you quote.

Trump is neither conservative on fiscal issues (on every issue, he's for more government) nor liberal on social issues (with the possible exception of abortion; he sue as hell isn't going to change drug policy).

"Libertarians I know" doesn't convince me. Sure, there are hypocrites under every political banner, but speaking for myself, the least I want the government to do for me is to stop growing, stop taking my money with taxes and regulations, and stop the endless wars. I would really appreciate that.
0 # Dion Giles 2016-08-12 04:01
Libertarianism means allowing the prey to be at the mercy of the predators.
+14 # ivories29 2016-03-06 21:25
And when all is said and done--we still have a caricature of a figure--boorish , bellicose, bullying. Imagine this clownish vulgar man sitting down to talk serious politics with world leaders!
Mind-boggling and scary.
+12 # Kootenay Coyote 2016-03-06 21:34
Poor USA, undergirded with the dregs of sterile Puritan harshnesses of Cotton Mather-age New-England. Authority, black-&-white reductionism & deep fear & self-mistrust.
+9 # NAVYVET 2016-03-06 23:09
At least Cotton Mather apologized for the Salem witch hangings & recanted other beliefs. He was an "inner-directed " person according to the late David Riesman's 1950s book--someone with a conscience. Trump shows no conscience, yet is not "other-directed "--whose shallow views flipflop according to peer influence. I wonder how Riesman would categorize Trump?

Hillary Clinton is other-directed as I view her lifelong tepid & negative accomplishments in public life. Although she claims experience in many issues, she's never had any real success--Wall Street chummery, health reform & the Mideast being conspicuously irritating & her white supremacist tilt the slyest con game. Bernie Sanders is almost entirely inner-directed, but he is also a pragmatist in the liberal sense. He understands that knowledge grows incrementally. As sturdy as his convictions are, he does listen to new ideas. He can change his position as he has on issues like support for Israel and gun sales, and quickly realized his personal commitment to Black Lives Matter. He can negotiate with opponents, who trust and respect him, and has had real success in supporting small business over big monopolies & cartels. He possesses the greatest popularity, by far, among his constituency, has introduced the all-time largest number of passed amendments to Congressional legislation. He is a proven success. That's why I, a pragmatist, a peace & social justice activist and a DSA socialist, support him.
+3 # Ken Halt 2016-03-08 03:27
NAVYJET: Wow! Exemplary post! Please, may I have permission to plagiarize? Your summation of Bernie's CV embodies in words all the things I sense about him but have not been able to express as succinctly. I'm a long time RSN participant and admirer of your comments, we're definitely on the same page in so many ways and I'm rock solid in my support of Bernie. Would appreciate incorporating some of your concepts and phrases in my own efforts to support Bernie. Please may I?
-3 # Robbee 2016-03-06 21:49
oops! how did we wander into a thread that draws rational distinctions among GOP candidates?

our rsn hill-haters maintain there is absolutely no difference between hill and any gop slime - hill-bashers boycott such threads as this! hill-haters choose other threads where they shovel their shit at us and hope to keep us in the dark!

just wondering! - why, whenever there's a story about rump or crud or rabidio, do we never hear our GOP cockroaches ranting how hill is just as bad as a zomblican? - why? oh why?

cockroaches! do i have to call you out? by hash tag? where? oh where? did you all scurry off and hide? - did this article shine a light on a real zomblican? - is this a bad time to peddle your cross-eyed pledge not to vote dem unless it's bernie? if we can’t have bernie, to elect a zomblican?

another thing you may notice about our cockroaches is that whenever there is a story about womens’ rights, they have decency not to hill-hate? - strange, these cockroaches! - their aversion to light?

- down with RAP! - Republicans Against Progress! - down with GOP! - listen to bernie! - go bernie!

by the way - i just watched a great exchange in the dem debate tonight! hill proposes lots of modest programs that she will enact, if prez, that won't cost billionaires a dime! - their money is no good here! it pays to support hill!

we have good reason to like lesser progressive hill! and good reason to prefer bernie!
+10 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 22:19
Uh how about because they are partisan across party lines just like Hitler. So to you that is an admirable quality? Hillary is not progressive, sorry. Unless by progress you mean lining your own pockets with profits anywhere you can steal them, swearing allegiance to Israel, promising boots in Syria, and sweatheart bailout deals for banksters like Goldman Sachs who just got finished raping Greece. ?????
+2 # Jim Rocket 2016-03-07 09:54
My sense is that most people here have no trouble saying that Hillary is better than the Republicans. It's especially easy this round because the whole R field is so ridiculous. Hillary's problem is that she's basically a moderate Republican... Much preferable to the clown car but not really someone who's going to enact a progressive agenda. She could tack left (and by left I mean back towards the center) at any time and shut Bernie out. But will she move that way? That's the big question
+7 # Robbee 2016-03-06 21:49
see ya tomorrow afternoon at cristler basketball arena in ann arbor, for the bernie rally and concert! - go bernie!
+10 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 22:25
What good has she done again? 70% of the profits go to Boeing for the small business bill Import/Export? She brought it up and Bernie exposed her as the corporate shill she is. Even Anderson Cooper was able to make her look awkwardly bad on the topic she brought up that was supposed to be a positive according to her. Wow. Hillary is a total neocon. Her own words prove it. Tonight proved it yet again. You think she will release the Goldman Sachs speech? We know she lies.
-3 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 13:05
Why should she be the only one to release her speech transcripts? Why aren't the others told to do the same?
This is just yet another form of harassment that Hillary has endured and survived for over 20 years.
Maybe we need some of that survival instinct in the White House.
+5 # fletch1165 2016-03-07 22:40
And the fact Trump isn't demanding it is telling in itself... They work together, Hillary and neocon hand in hand. Just like W kneeling down and kissing the Saudi prince. Same image.
+6 # fletch1165 2016-03-06 22:34
Yes. Go for it. Wish I could be there too...BERNIE or BUST.
-12 # Shades of gray matter 2016-03-06 22:26
Mustard & Blue: At a game where MSU was beating U of M in Ann Arbor, the frat boys began chanting, "That's alright, that's Ok; You're going to work for us someday." No free tuition for that kind of condescension toward the less privileged. BS served up enough pandering pie in the sky again tonight to kill off the Big House full of diabetics. Hillary will block that punt, and scramble into the end zone. So there.
-5 # bmiluski 2016-03-07 13:06
Interesting analogy...Shade s.
+6 # Promoting Peace 2016-03-07 22:04
If education is more readily available to all people, we all win. In an impoverished, uneducated, society, everyone loses. Even the super rich can't progress as much as they would in an educated society.

With more education, more advances in: technology, medicine, infrastructure, health care, agriculture, and every aspect of the society will absolutely come about.

In an uneducated society, a third world society, everyone will suffer to a much larger degree.

That being said, it sounds like you are opposed to us at least striving towards having free, readily available, education to all who desire it.

If we're too afraid of reaching for the best, if we poo poo bucking the system and not settling for the same old same old, then we will never truly advance.

So, no one knows if Bernie could actually bring about free education, and so much more positive goals he's proposing, partly due to variables in the equation, (will we take back the Senate, etc.?) but why not at least try for the best.

If you're willing to settle for the same old stuff we've been getting from the past establishment, than that's all we'll ever get.

So much is lost for the fear of trying!
+14 # narguimbau 2016-03-06 22:52
In m opinion George Lakoff makes thins too complicated.

I think why Trump is winning, is simple: Many white people listen to him and say, "Heh, he's just like me, not too dumb and not too smart. He thinks what I do, that there are getting to be too many colored people and they've got to be kept out so they won't take our jobs. And he doesn't want to take away medicare and social security, which I'll need when I'm older And he's a billionaire running without help from the crooks on Wall Street.. So I could be a billionaire too if we just put America back how it used to be with plenty of good jobs for white people. That's what he'll do."

For better or worse, he'willing to say what lots of white people think. We need to blame ourselves for his success.

Nicholas C. Arguimbau
+9 # punditalia 2016-03-07 03:24
Agree with it or not, this analysis is interesting and deeper than most media commentary. It also tends to shed light on my latest cartoon.
0 # tgemberl 2016-03-07 13:58
Lakoff says some interesting things about psychology, but like DaveEwoldt, I think he's too Cartesian, or inclined to interpret things in terms of individuals' inner psychology. In particular, his idea that conservatism and liberalism are some sort of separate psychological systems. I think he underestimates the role of historical contingency in these things.

In particular, I think it's important to look at what happened in the 1970's that laid the groundwork for today's conservative movement. Before that time, fundamentalists , even if they had strong fathers, were mostly apolitical. It was the Roe vs. Wade decision and the way it was portrayed as attacking core religious values that enabled Reagan to create the conservative coalition. With people like Francis Schaeffer and Charles Colson, theological conservatives began to formulate an "evangelical" political view that mandated religious people getting into politics. Before that, many of them thought it did no good because politics was inherently worldly.

Frank Schaeffer, Francis's son, has shown how that movement, that was originally purely religious and even humanitarian in nature, was drawn into the Republican Party. I think that happened at least partly because politics requires coalitions, and some Republicans saw an opportunity in bringing fundamentalists into their movement. But I doubt you can explain this by some psychological factor. (cont.)
+2 # tgemberl 2016-03-07 14:03
As the new conservative coalition started, there also began to be groups like Amway that started to emphasize the "prosperity gospel." (If you're old enough to remember the 80's, you know Amway was all over at that time.) The idea that financial success could be a sign of God's approval. This was also natural for some fundamentalist groups like Pentecostals and the charismatic movement. But I think that if you went back before the 70's, that idea would've been seen as rather alien to a lot of fundamentalists ' religion.
+4 # Buddha 2016-03-07 15:25
Except all too often these "Laissez-faire" free-market conservatives use their wealth to buy politicians to give them corporate welfare. All too often these "family-values" conservatives are caught trolling for gay sex or on some "Appalachian Trail" booty-call. I think most are just frauds. What really to me makes a person "conservative" today is that they lack the empathy-gene. They care for nobody but themselves, act like any societal "safety-net" measure is for lazy undeserving moochers, that equal rights for LGBT is wrong...right up until they lose a job and get sick and need the ACA (see that Republican talking about his situation and change-of-mind on the ACA once he got sick), or their son/daughter comes out.

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