Tag Archives: campaigns

It’s not about policy positions. Emotion moves swing voters.

We say, “Public Option.”   They say, “Death Panels.”
We say, “Government Programs.”   They say, “Socialism.”
We say, “Cap and Trade.”   They say, “Job Killing Energy Tax”.

They use emotions to connect with people and create negative feelings toward us. We use logic to try to convince people that we’re right. Obama gave people hope in 2008, but we failed miserably by trying to sell the Affordable Care Act as a list of poll tested policies instead of as a moral imperative. It took 10 years for people’s lived experience with “ObamaCare” to show them why it mattered. Continue reading

Learning from Lakoff

In 2011, I spent a semester at Berkeley studying cognitive linguistics with Professor Lakoff whose work I have admired since I read Moral politics in 1996. I was so convinced of the importance of his work that I returned in 2015 to spend a year working directly with George to develop a training program to help people put his work into practice. I am only now finishing this project, and the end result is the LeftWords training program you can learn more about here!

Quintessential George Lakoff at the Berkeley coffee shop. (BAP photos)

I had the privilege of working with the brilliant and delightful Professor George Lakoff at University of California, Berkeley. I went to study framing. I learned far more than I ever imagined about how our minds actually work.

These discoveries in cognitive science elevate Lakoff’s work on political framing from “good advice” to “critical truths we ignore at our own peril”. We have to understand the foundation of our competing moral systems if we are to succeed in reaching people and overturning the Right’s dominance over our public debate. Continue reading

A Short History of Field Operations

Jim Broadbent as “Boss” Tweed in the movie Gangs of New York.

It might be romantic to think of modern field operations as having grown organically from the community organizing traditions of people like Saul Alinksy and the Farmworkers, but its origins are actually much closer to the “ward heeler” operations of the likes of Boss Tweed and the Chicago Machine. Continue reading