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Moral politics
how big business bought your brain
(and how you might resist)
the science of
framing political
debate
How Donald Trump
was elected
to the US presidency
George
Lakoff
presentation of ideas
of George Lakoff
Strict father model
• gendered system
• child is inherently bad, needs
discipline (punishment) to
become moral
• moral beings are disciplined
and can successfully pursue
self-interest
• wealth accrues to moral
beings
• moral people should rule
Moral order
• God above Man
• Man above nature
• adults above children
• Western above other cultures
• US above other nations
BIGOTED VERSION
• men above women
• whites above non-whites
• straights above gays
• Christians above non-Christians
Nurturing parent model
• both parents have equal
responsibility
• parents should nurture children and
bring them up to become nurturers
• to nurture you need empathy and
responsibility
• government should protect people
like this (environmental protection,
consumer protection, worker
protection)
• you need to be happy to nurture
others (fair, caring, honest
communities)
Moral politics: Lakoff
• everyone grows up with both
models 

Schwarzenegger movie (strict
family morality)

Oprah (nurturing parent morality)
• mixed morality: many people are
in the middle and can be
persuaded by appeals to
morality rather than issues
• blue collar union member with
strict father morality at home can
be attracted to conservatism
by strict father metaphors
Progressive thought
• Enlightenment: rationalism
• we are all equally rational beings
so we can govern ourselves =>
democratic government
• it’s irrational to be against
material interests
• facts matter because they have
consequences for materials
interests
• so if people are given facts they
will act rationally
BUT framing
• metaphorical thought
• subconscious
• influences our perceptions
and decisions
1971 Chamber of Commerce
• best and brightest of American
students were not becoming
conservative businessmen
• wealthy conservative businessmen
need to pool resources to
• endow university chairs
• set up think tanks
• publish research and control
media
• train conservative leaders using
Orwellian language when necessary
Strict father: 

fundamental frames
• it’s only individual initiative
that’s made this country great
• everyone can pull themselves
up by their own bootstraps
• government interferes with
process of individuals
pursuing wealth
• individuals know better than
government how to spend
their money
Nurturing parent: 

fundamental frames
• use common wealth for
common good
• public resources make private
enterprise possible
• freedom from ignorance,
disease, and want is essential
for everyone
Donald Trump and
the strict father frame
Unconscious thought
works by certain basic
mechanisms. Trump uses them
instinctively to turn people’s brains
toward what he wants: Absolute
authority, money, power, and
celebrity
1 Repetition
• Win, win, win
• the more a word is
heard, the more people
expect to hear it
2 Framing
• Crooked Hillary
• immorality (in strict father terms) equals
illegality
3 Repeated examples
• news reports of black,
Muslim, Latino shootings
• creates fear and desire
for strict father
4 Grammar
• radical Islamic
terrorist
• suggests that
terrorism is inherent in
Islam
5 Metaphor
• make America great
again
• as if a past ideal can
be recreated (by
electing Trump)
other metaphors
• country as person (strong
leader, strong country)
• nation as family (strong
head of family)
• national heritage equals
nationality
• naming is identifying (call
someone out)
Moral politics
how big business bought your brain
How can Americans
resist?
What the Majority Can Do
• strong American Majority
movement is necessary
• framing American values accurately
and systemically day after day
• appealing honestly and forthrightly to
those in-group nurturant values in
small towns across America.
• basic progressive thought: citizens
care about citizens and provide
public resources for all, maximizing
freedom
• it undermines — rather than negates
— strict father morality.
Moral politics
What of the role of business interests
and media manipulation in Europe?
What can we learn from the
American example?
Sources
• https://georgelakoff.com
• Images: pixabay.com

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Moral politics

  • 1. Moral politics how big business bought your brain (and how you might resist)
  • 2. the science of framing political debate How Donald Trump was elected to the US presidency
  • 4. Strict father model • gendered system • child is inherently bad, needs discipline (punishment) to become moral • moral beings are disciplined and can successfully pursue self-interest • wealth accrues to moral beings • moral people should rule
  • 5. Moral order • God above Man • Man above nature • adults above children • Western above other cultures • US above other nations BIGOTED VERSION • men above women • whites above non-whites • straights above gays • Christians above non-Christians
  • 6. Nurturing parent model • both parents have equal responsibility • parents should nurture children and bring them up to become nurturers • to nurture you need empathy and responsibility • government should protect people like this (environmental protection, consumer protection, worker protection) • you need to be happy to nurture others (fair, caring, honest communities)
  • 7. Moral politics: Lakoff • everyone grows up with both models 
 Schwarzenegger movie (strict family morality)
 Oprah (nurturing parent morality) • mixed morality: many people are in the middle and can be persuaded by appeals to morality rather than issues • blue collar union member with strict father morality at home can be attracted to conservatism by strict father metaphors
  • 8. Progressive thought • Enlightenment: rationalism • we are all equally rational beings so we can govern ourselves => democratic government • it’s irrational to be against material interests • facts matter because they have consequences for materials interests • so if people are given facts they will act rationally
  • 9. BUT framing • metaphorical thought • subconscious • influences our perceptions and decisions
  • 10. 1971 Chamber of Commerce • best and brightest of American students were not becoming conservative businessmen • wealthy conservative businessmen need to pool resources to • endow university chairs • set up think tanks • publish research and control media • train conservative leaders using Orwellian language when necessary
  • 11. Strict father: 
 fundamental frames • it’s only individual initiative that’s made this country great • everyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps • government interferes with process of individuals pursuing wealth • individuals know better than government how to spend their money
  • 12. Nurturing parent: 
 fundamental frames • use common wealth for common good • public resources make private enterprise possible • freedom from ignorance, disease, and want is essential for everyone
  • 13. Donald Trump and the strict father frame Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, and celebrity
  • 14. 1 Repetition • Win, win, win • the more a word is heard, the more people expect to hear it
  • 15. 2 Framing • Crooked Hillary • immorality (in strict father terms) equals illegality
  • 16. 3 Repeated examples • news reports of black, Muslim, Latino shootings • creates fear and desire for strict father
  • 17. 4 Grammar • radical Islamic terrorist • suggests that terrorism is inherent in Islam
  • 18. 5 Metaphor • make America great again • as if a past ideal can be recreated (by electing Trump)
  • 19. other metaphors • country as person (strong leader, strong country) • nation as family (strong head of family) • national heritage equals nationality • naming is identifying (call someone out)
  • 20. Moral politics how big business bought your brain How can Americans resist?
  • 21. What the Majority Can Do • strong American Majority movement is necessary • framing American values accurately and systemically day after day • appealing honestly and forthrightly to those in-group nurturant values in small towns across America. • basic progressive thought: citizens care about citizens and provide public resources for all, maximizing freedom • it undermines — rather than negates — strict father morality.
  • 22. Moral politics What of the role of business interests and media manipulation in Europe? What can we learn from the American example?