Brett's Reviews > Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives

Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the De... by George Lakoff
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Apr 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: domestic-politics, language
Read from April 19 to August 12, 2012

This short introduction to Lakoff's ideas was published in 2004, and I finished earlier this year, so I'm right on track with being about eight years behind in everything. Still, it is a common sense book, short enough that it is really just a glorified essay.

You get the gist of the book simply from the title. Stop framing political arguments using terms and frames invented by the opposite side of the argument. If you ask someone not to think of an elephant, an elephant is of course the first thing they imagine. Instead, progressives must develope their own political vocabulary and use their own frames, which I believe progressives have made substantial progress on in the years since publication.

We also get the introduction to Lakoff's "strict father" and "nuturing mother" archetypes for political thinking, which can be useful as well. It is a productive cultural lens through which to examine political behavior, in addition to class-based analysis.

Again, this book is barely 100 pages, so you don't get deep into the meat of any of these issues. For my purposes this was fine, but you may want to seek out one of Lakoff's longer works (probably Moral Politics) if you want a more thorough discussion.
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