Thursday, December 3, 2015

Once Upon a Lie: Why Republicans Win

Author and cognitive scientist George Lakoff
How is the American public so easily and completely conned?
By the numbers, as cognitive scientist George Lakoff observes.
“First, stresses like fear (of terrorist attacks), worry (about finances, health care and so on) and overwork tend to activate the norepinephrine system, the system of negative emotions,” wrote Lakoff  in his 2008 book The Political Mind. “The result is a reduced capacity to notice. Second, the right conceptual framework must be in place in order to recognize apparently different events as the same kind of event."
Lakoff pointed to then-current news stories about Blackwater mercenaries mass-murdering Iraqi civilians, President Bush’s veto of the continuation of a government children’s health care program and the federal Food and Drug Administration no longer having enough funds to monitor food and drug safety.
“But they are about the same issue: the radical conservative political and economic agenda is putting public resources and government functions into private hands, while the eliminating the capacity of the government to protect and empower the public,” Lakoff noted.
We might add that the very same issue is still at work in Illinois in 2015, as a state budget crisis is manipulated to deny funding to public universities, and perhaps to eliminate them entirely.
“The public has no conceptual framework to see all these as the same and to comprehend what this means, and with the stress of fear and worry and overwork,  the public has little capacity to notice and to create the substantial neural structures needed to comprehend what is happening in hundreds of areas of life,” Lakoff wrote.
“The Democratic leaders are not, as they say, connecting the dots,” Lakoff noted.  “The facts and figures are given, but they are all about different things — violence in Iraq,, children’s health, drug tests. The old Enlightenment reason approach not only fails, it wastes effort, time and money. It does so not only because the public’s mind is mostly unconscious, metaphorical and physically affected by stress, but because its brain has been neurally shaped by past conservative framing.”
Republicans do not reason with the members of the American public. Instead, they use their overwhelming media power to repeatedly tell them simple bedtime stories — about Rescue, Redemption, strong Daddy figures, weak Mommy figures and so forth. They’re all bullshit, but so what? Familiar Republican fiction soothes the American public while insidious Republican fact gets busy stabbing them in the back.

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