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Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  162 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Two years ago George Lakoff published the bestselling Don't Think of an Elephant! Its account of the conservative monopoly on effective framing touched off a national discussion about political language. It also gave rise to a chorus of pleas for more:

* What is the progressive vision of America;
* Why progressive values are America's values;
* How frames are necessary to s
ebook, 176 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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I've read most of Lakoff's other books (that's my reason for the 3 stars... not too much new material)... if you have read those, you can probably skip this and just check out the Rockridge Institute's website: []

If you haven't read any Lakoff and are curious, I would recommend this or Don't Think of an Elephant. If you've read this or 'Elephant and want more... head straight to Moral Politics.

Every time I open a newspaper, turn on cable news or scan the blog
Jul 10, 2014 Kemaki45 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: progressive political activists
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
Taking our country back from the ultra-right wing conservatives who have dominated it for far too long isn't going to be easy. We've actually got to start communicating on a whole different level, abandoning our "just the facts" approach to persuading voters. Lakoff explains why it isn't enough to simply present strong evidence of a failing economy, a disastrous foreign policy, or an unjust social system. He helps make sense of the seeming paradox of voters who vote against their own self-intere ...more
While this is supposed to be a "guidebook" to communicating and swaying the opinions of undecided voters/moderates (or "biconceptuals" as the book calls them), I think it really falls short of its aims. It primarily shows how to "frame" issues and opinions to influence those opinions, but falls far short of actually describing WHY the liberal beliefs are better or more effective than others.

Some examples of how the prescribed ideas contained within might work more effectively, are shortsighted a
Stephie Jane Rexroth
Must read. Every argument, issue and policy can be boiled down to two cognitive frames: the strict (authoritarian) father frame for conservatives and the nurturant-parent frame for progressives. This book in particular explored "bi-conceptualism"... instead of being in-the-middle, independent or moderate, people have a mix of conservative and progressive moral systems as applied to specific issues/policies.

Many pointers and plenty of examples for not arguing against conservative frames, which i
Joel Duff
The ideas behind this are great but it reads poorly and becomes more tedious as it progresses. Sometimes team writing produces the least engaging books.

That being said, progressives cannot afford to miss this message about speaking to values.
As brilliant and insightful as Lakoff's other work. It isn't that long but requires a significant investment to get through. It is worth the time, though.
slick justification of progressive taxation:

"The common wealth has been used to build highways, develop the Internet and the satellite system, uphold the banking system, regulate the stock market, and support the court system, which guarantees contracts. No business functioning in the market could exist without massive use of the common wealth. It is crucial to the existence and flourishing of markets. And those who benefit from markets have a moral obligation to replenish the common wealth."
Kristy Powell
This was a great find about how progressives can identify and communicate our values and morals. Conservatives essentially have the "market" on being the party associated with morals and values, so how do progressives take it back? I found this to be not only helpful (to help me communicate those values in an intelligent way to conservative friends), but also eye-opening about some of the core differences between the parties, and solidified why I am progressive.
Starts out strong but gets a little repetitive toward the end. I definitely agree with a lot of Lakoff's views and logic. This book (along with Lakoff's other works) is a must for those who think capitalism is the save-all form of social operandi. On the other hand, applying all of the progressive values entailed within this short work might just destroy the very concept of the individual (you decide whether that is good or bad).
I am the co-founder of the Empathy Surplus Project, Wilmington, OH. My co-founder, Gary Evans, life long Republican, and I, life long Democrat believe empathy and responsibility for self and others belongs in public governance. We use this book as a basic resource in the chartering of Caring Citizens' Chapters. We can discuss this book on social media. To find our schedule of readings go to
May 24, 2007 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Progressives
I'm still working on this one. It's very similar to his other books on framing, Think of An Elephant and Moral Politics. As a student of linguistics, I like and agree with his analysis of framing. His organization's blog, Rockridge Nation, has a long running conversation on the book which is good to read after you've been through a chapter or two.
Missy Meegan
Apr 30, 2010 Missy Meegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Progressives
An excellent book on political framing and a must read for any Progressive looking for ways to effectively communicate our ideas while effectively dispelling conservative myths.

The Rockridge Institute's ( which funded this book) website is an excellent resource for additional information.

This is a very important book for understanding the reasons why politicians have difficult creating counterargument. For anyone who is frustrated with why the Democratic Party has been unable to come up with a response, read this!
An exceptional text on political framing. The text is concise and easy to read while not skimping on details. Lakoff's work will be shown in the future to be one of the central reasons why the progressive movement didn't die.
Replacement of Liberal with Progressive. Patriarchal paternalism vs messy community decision making. Liberals will always be on the defensive regardless of name.
For someone interesting in the power of words, it has a compelling look at political speech relating to the most crucial issues of today.
Jun 11, 2009 Sheila rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Progressives/activists/politicians
Great way to learn to frame issues progressively! How to argue using progressive values.
A very clear look at the use of language in politics.
exceptionally thought-provoking
Jul 30, 2008 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Democrats and Progressives
This is the book every progressive activist or Democratic candidate should read in order to understand how to frame their message.
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George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at UC Berkeley and is one of the founders of the field of cognitive science.

He is author of The New York Times bestseller Don't Think of an Elephant!, as well as Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Whose Freedom?, and many other books and articles on cognitive science and ling
More about George Lakoff...
Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives Metaphors We Live By Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

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