Thursday, May 11, 2017

Former linguistic professor foresaw the election of Donald Trump and explains why Democrats failed to understand his attractiveness to conservatives.

Courtesy of Berkeleyside:  

George Lakoff, retired UC Berkeley professor and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant, is one of a very few people in Berkeley who does not underestimate Donald Trump. “Trump is not stupid,” he tells anyone who will listen. “He is a super salesman, and he knows how to change your brain and use it to his advantage.”

Here is some of what Lakoff shared:  

“Ideas don’t float in the air, they live in your neuro-circuitry,” Lakoff said. Each time ideas in our neural circuits are activated, they get stronger. And over time, complexes of neural circuits create a frame through which we view the world. “The problem is, that frame is unconscious,” Lakoff said. “You aren’t aware of it because you don’t have access to your neural circuits.” So what happens when you hear facts that don’t fit in your worldview is that you can’t process them: you might ignore them, or reject or attack them, or literally not hear them. 

This theory explains why even college-educated Trump voters could ignore so many facts about their candidate. And it also explains why progressives have been ignoring Lakoff’s findings for more than two decades. Progressives are still living in the world of Descartes and the Enlightenment, Lakoff said, a neat world governed by the rules of logic. Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” but Lakoff claims that we are embodied beings and that 98 percent of thought is unconscious.

This really hit home with me because this is almost EXACTLY how I think.

In fact Rene Descartes forms the very foundation of my worldview.

Here is more: 

So if you are going to craft a message that can reach people who disagree with you, you have to understand their subconscious worldview. Lakoff calls this worldview a “frame,” and claims that Republicans have done a much better job with framing over the past 30 or 40 years. Republicans understand the narrative that governs many people in this country, and they target their message directly to that worldview. Democrats, on the other hand, ignore the worldview and focus instead on rationality, facts and policies. 

It is a myth that the truth will set us free, Lakoff said. Case in point: Hillary Clinton’s well-thought-out policy positions vs. Donald Trump’s tweets. The tweets had one central and fact-free message: “Make America great again.” Clinton’s message was more detailed and fact-based, but also much more diffuse. Heavy on Enlightenment, short on metaphor. “I spoke to people at the center of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, and told them they were doing everything they could to lose,” Lakoff said. “It didn’t make any difference. People are who they are, and they were going to do things their way. I could see the disaster happening the entire year.”

And get this:

Lakoff gave a talk recently at the Center for Right-Wing Studies and pointed out that students who become Democratic operatives tend to study political studies and statistics and demographics in college. “Students who lean Republican study marketing. “And that’s his point,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a very different way of thinking.” 

Lakoff’s core finding revolves around the metaphor of family. He claims there are two core beliefs about the role of families in society, and the belief one holds determines whether one is conservative or liberal. Moderates are people in the middle who are able to hold some ideas from both sides, and being able to understand and persuade them is crucial to winning any election. 

Conservatives believe in a what Lakoff calls the “strict father family,” while progressives believe in a “nurturant parent family.” In the strict father family, father knows best and he has the moral authority. The children and spouse have to defer to him, and when they disobey, he has the right to punish them so they will learn to do the right thing. 

“The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality, and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate,” Lakoff said. “The hierarchy is God above man; man above nature; the rich above the poor; employers above employees; adults above children; Western culture above other cultures; our country above other countries. The hierarchy also extends to men above women, whites above nonwhites, Christians above non-Christians, straights above gays.” Since this is seen as a “natural” order, it is not to be questioned.

Lakoff goes on to say that essentially Donald Trump, with his patriarchal world view and Put America First slogan, was playing the conservative theme song.

Whereas we saw a fatally flawed candidate, with virtually no respect for the truth, and the morals of an alley cat high on catnip, they saw Daddy.

A father figure whose choices were not to be questioned, even when they were clearly wrong.

Gee, is it any wonder that those with this mindset were completely unwilling to vote for a woman, regardless of her many virtues?

And even more troubling, if Trump is not impeached and removed from office, these same people will once again blindly vote for his reelection, without ANY regard to his many mistakes, lies, and broken promises.

Well I'm terrified, how about you?


  1. Anonymous4:27 AM

    So in other words,
    They were conned by a con man.

    1. Anonymous11:56 AM

      NO! You missed the entire point of the article. The fact that Trump is a con man is beside the point. Sheesh, we are NEVER going to win.

  2. Anonymous4:48 AM

    The thing is,Trump has no idea what he is doing.He is not "smart",he doesn't make a plan to do this.He acts on instinct because he is the ultimate product if what this man describes.

  3. Anonymous5:15 AM

    He is not smart. He doesn't do things the way they are done because he doesn't know how at all. He has no experience for the office. He is ignorant. He lies and lies and lies.
    Most of us know he is crazy. Mental. Sundowning. Dementia is setting in. Just lies come out of him. Just too bad no one is willing for the country to axe him.

    1. Anonymous6:24 AM

      Politics and greed trump country and fair play.
      Human nature, alas. Get ready -- it's gonna be a bumpy ride into (further) dystopia .

  4. Anonymous5:27 AM

    Trump is the exact example of what is wrong in our society. As I watch the local morning news the story was about arming elementary schools with bullet proof offices. My thought was no! how about taking the guns away from the mentally ill. I would remove my kid from school immediately if this was the case. When you give into bullies you lose. It is time to get this right. Remove the cancer in our society, remove that asshole in charge of it and stop this waste of time and money on ignorance.

  5. I'll never see a woman president. America has to change a lot before that'll happen.

  6. Anonymous6:11 AM

    Really fascinating ideas! I can see how this works in my own family. 2 of my siblings are conservatives (think tea party) and 2 of us are liberal. The 2 conservatives are very authoritarian, and raised their children that way. The 2 of us whom are liberal, are much more nurturing. Btw, our mother was authoritarian, and father was nurturing. One can obviously see which parent influenced our behavior, and our politics.

  7. Anonymous6:20 AM

    Smart enough! He knows the conservative mentality. He knows because he also thinks the same way. Except trump exploits the Republican base because he again knows how dumb they are when they hear what they they want.
    No trump is not intelligent, but he is a conniver and good at it.

  8. While the premise presented does appear to have reasonable merit, I do believe that way to much credit has been granted to our so-called president's ability to manipulate his minions. He just clearly does not have the basic intellect. A con artist, a buffoon, a snake oil salesman so much.

  9. Anonymous6:38 AM

    Very enlightening! I've always thought it had much more to do with Hillary being a woman. Hopefully, future Americans will be much more enlightened!

  10. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and Lakoff7:16 AM

    Replace Trump with Palin.

    Replace United States with Alaska.

    Sarah Palin was the trial run imho, and Donald Trump was sharp enough to recognize that what worked in 2008 would win in 2016.

    And Pence? He's Trump's Captain Zero.

    Like Andrew Halcro warned in 2008 about Sarah Palin:

    " What it's like to debate Sarah Palin

    I know firsthand: She's a master of the nonanswer.
    By Andrew Halcro October 1, 2008

    Anchorage, Alaska — When he faces off against Sarah Palin Thursday night, Joe Biden will have his hands full.

    I should know. I've debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

    On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch."


    "On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.

    "Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.

    While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin's knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn't have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy."

  11. Anonymous7:48 AM

    this election was three things: russian interference that favored republicans, extreme patriarchy in both parties, and a smart experienced woman running for president that sparked unreasonable hatred and reasonable admiration.

    interference and hatred won

    do not underestimate the patriarchal rhizome of our society. you can pull the stems, but the rot is deep and self-propagates.

  12. CRACK IS WHACK and so is Donald Dump7:49 AM

    Not. The. Onion.

    Dolt 45!

    " Reporter: The politics of this? Do you need to get Democratic support to get this tax plan passed?

    Trump: Um. Little bit.

    Reporter: And to get Democratic support, they prefer…

    Trump: Depending. It depends on which plan, you know, which concept we’ve got to…but it could be. But I think the Democrats are going to like it. We may align it with infrastructure, which they like. They like it as much as the Republicans like it. We need infrastructure in our country. This country has wasted $6 trillion in the Middle East. Wasted. Like taking it and throwing it right out that window. Right in to the Rose Garden. See that beautiful Rose Garden? Look at those very nicely dressed people. It’s religious liberty out there."

    His Taxes?


    Reporter: Mr President, can I just try you on a deal-making question? If you do need Democratic support for your tax plan, your ideal tax plan, and the price of that the Democrats say is for you to release your tax returns, would you do that?

    Trump: I don’t know. That’s a very interesting question. I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they’re not going to…nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.

    Hope Hicks: Once the audit is over.

    President Trump: I might release them after I’m out of office."

    From the Economist interview with the idiot currently posing as the POTUS.

    1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    2. Anonymous8:24 AM

      "I might release them after I’m out of office."" Oh, at some point I’ll release them."
      {In a court of law used as evidence against 'ME' with a smile on MY face} "I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually."
      "I did a good job" !
      kaiser drumpf
      nounNORTH AMERICANvulgar slang
      a stupid or contemptible person.

    3. The orange fucker will baroo like a bluetick when he is put under oath9:08 AM


      " “Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump says, having fun. “Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath.”

      Clapper, on the screen, pauses several beats to search his memory. “Ah, he’s choking. Ah, look,” the President says. After a delay, Clapper finally answers, admitting that he had requested an unmasking, which would have been a routine occurrence in his former job. The running Trump commentary continues. “See the people in the back, people are gasping,” he says, though it’s unclear who he is referring to on the screen."

    4. Anonymous9:56 AM

      Trump is so full of bullshit!!! JHC! I can hardly wait for the guy to be impeached and out of office. He is the very worst idiot Americans have had to put up with.

      Remember, the majority of Americans did not vote for him and do not recognize him as their potus. I know he does not represent me in any way!

      He is a dictator and expects adoration. Give me a fucking break!

  13. Anonymous7:52 AM

    "Medication-assisted treatment works. Period."
    " most US adults use drugs — some every day or multiple times a day — without any problems whatsoever. Just think about that next time you sip a beer, glass of wine, coffee, tea, or any other beverage with alcohol or caffeine in it, or any time you use a drug to treat a medical condition"

  14. Anonymous7:57 AM

    Kelly Anne Conway complaining Anderson Cooper eye roll was sexism. Bitch, please, a gay guy doing an eye roll to a female means I see you're wearing those Ivanka Trump knockoff heels.

    1. Anonymous11:14 AM

      7:57 LMAO

  15. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Hey Gryphen what's up with this?

    LNG by rail in Alaska?

    1. Anonymous8:42 AM

      Yon Dung's former chief of staff!!

      "The original FRA permit allowed Alaska Railroad to ship LNG by rail for two years, with the permit expiring in October 2017. But a month later, Lauby wrote a November 2, 2015 follow-up to Engebretson, now granting Alaska Railroad the ability to ship three LNG trains per week until December 2020. The documents do not make clear what prompted FRA to take such an action.

      During that same period, according to lobbying disclosure forms, Alaska Railroad began lobbying the FRA. The company hired C.J. Zanes, former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), and Katherine Scontras, former staffer for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), to undertake this effort."

  16. Anonymous9:32 AM

    Very good article with many good points; the one about the strict father family & authority explains a lot. But what he’s missing is the relationship between thinking and emotion. Emotions determine how people vote because emotions determine how people think. That’s why propaganda is so effective. It gets people very worked up, especially when crafted to show a violation of or conflict with people’s (often unconscious) world view. The use of anger and fear-inducing statements are well known tactics to ‘change minds,’ fear being the best all, if carefully applied. As with the Bush II administration, which tried to keep the country in a state of fear for 8 years so they could justify pursuing their war. It’s a sad state of affairs when people can’t realize they’re being emotionally manipulated. Too bad critical thinking classes aren’t required in every high school in the land. A version of it was taught in my high school 50 years ago, focused on how advertising works. It was a valuable thing to learn, one I’ve applied to all situations in my life.

  17. Anonymous10:50 AM

    OT? Simpsons" will air its 30th season and break the record for longest-running scripted show of all time."

  18. Anonymous2:15 PM

    "donald trump donald trump, my president!"
    Pound My Chest!

  19. Anonymous3:44 PM

    People who claim to have "foresaw" the election of Trump are full sh!t. Really? Really? If your analysis "foresaw" the election of someone would lose the popular vote by 3 million votes, it's a sh!t analysis, even if it ended up being, factually, correct.

    1. Michael Moore predicted Trump would win in the exact states he won and for the exact reasons.

      Democrats don't like to believe anything that goes against their views any more than Republicans do.

      Just look at those still blaming Bernie Sanders.

  20. Go to Lakoff's blog and read back on his articles back to the election. Very powerful stuff.

    I posted links to a few but no one paid any attention.

    1. Anonymous12:35 AM

      I did, mlaiuppa. While it's clear Lakoff makes some keen observations about Trump's ability to manipulate people by tapping into traits like admiration for authorianism, Lakoff over-simplifies, in my view. There's a lot more going on here. And I think Trump is actually very stupid. Robert Reich said Trump could have made much more money investing in index shares than he did running his business concerns. That's pretty damn dumb.

      Oddest thing in this post tho is G saying Descartes formed the foundation of his worldview. God is essential in Cartesian philosophy. Is Gryphen joking, confused about Descartes' actual body of work, or has he converted? Cause I don't see Cartesian philosophy in Gryphen's posts at all.

  21. Anonymous8:36 PM

    Hillary is an android she would have never won ..... and she paid the price for corporate bulldozing of Bernie Sanders


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