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Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  25 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
Paperback, 156 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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4.02  · 
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 ·  241 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Sep 19, 2007 rated it liked it
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
James Birch
In short, this book is about framing the debate and why the right is much better than the left at using emotional appeals. Great read if you're liberal and wondering why liberals keep losing political debates.
Charles Collyer
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written for progressives, this short book gives an overview of how messages and arguments are framed, how the framing becomes part of the message (shades of Marshall McLuhan!), and how the structure of communications can be recognized and utilized to one's advantage.

Goes significantly deeper into the psychology of communication than the "talking points" of most political practitioners.
Justin Lee
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book!
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book has some interesting ideas, but I found it hopelessly naive about being practical.

The book is about frames, which are more or less frames of reference that people assume when discussing a specific topic. The book states that progressives should spend time and effort explaining the proper frames to the public in order to be more persuasive on issues.

All this is well and good, but this is just a small part of the picture. For one thing, some control of the corporate media is needed if yo
Apr 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics
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
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: progressive political activists
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
Lakoff explains why arguments (and elections) aren't won with presentations of compelling statistics, solid data, and point-by-point policy statements. The way we talk about our values—the words we use, the images we rely upon—can make the difference between persuading and alienating. Lakoff has found a way to make sense of the seeming paradox of voters who vote against their own self-interest, and explains why conservative-sounding politicians are so successful at manipulating voters who have a ...more
Stephie Jane Rexroth
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: policy, global-values
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."
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Kristy Powell
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
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).
May 24, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.

Jun 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
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.
Joel Duff
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Jonay Beltrán
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's extremely interesting learning about frames and biconceptualism. This last concept was what really caught my attention. There isn't such a thing as 'moderate' politics.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
For someone interesting in the power of words, it has a compelling look at political speech relating to the most crucial issues of today.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Progressives/activists/politicians
Great way to learn to frame issues progressively! How to argue using progressive values.
Mark E. Miller
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: politcs
Replacement of Liberal with Progressive. Patriarchal paternalism vs messy community decision making. Liberals will always be on the defensive regardless of name.
exceptionally thought-provoking
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Jul 06, 2011
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Jul 05, 2007
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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
“Liberals: Liberty-loving liberals founded our country and enshrined its freedoms. Dedicated, fair-minded liberals ended slavery and brought women the vote. Hardworking liberals fought the goon squads and won workers’ rights: the eight-hour day, the weekend, health plans, and pensions. Courageous liberals risked their lives to win civil rights. Caring liberals have made the vulnerable elderly secure with Social Security and healthy with Medicare. Forward-looking liberals have extended education to everyone. Liberals who love the land have been preserving our environment so you can enjoy it. Nobody loves liberty and life more than a liberal. When conservatives say you’re on your own, we liberals know we’re all in this together. “Liberal” 1 likes
“The authentic pragmatist realizes you can’t get everything you think is right, but you can get much or most of it through negotiation. The authentic pragmatist sticks to his or her values and works to satisfy them maximally. The inauthentic pragmatist, on the other hand, is willing to depart from his or her true values for the sake of political gain. There” 1 likes
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