As I completed a previous day's blog entry, God
Invades White House (a title that, having now finished reading Esther
Kaplan's book With God On Their Side
seems to me very apposite) I was left with a sense
that those of us who might wear a 'liberal', 'nurturant',
'progressive' label, whether we chose it or not, have a special
in contradicting or interrupting the very cohesive 'big ideas' of
conservative politics. A special difficulty due in part to our
preference for plurality, diversity and above all reflexivity.
Because they are often structured round a few unifying, faith-based Big Ideas—
patriarchy, or male dominance—christian conservative groups seem more able than liberals to agree on campaign strategies that favour a narrow range of issues with which large populations can identify. Media coverage that repeats such notions ad infinitum through interviews, photo-opportunities and commercials, amounts to trance induction, and such spellbinding promises of 'security' in the face of the inflated threats of a 'war on terror', can come to dominate political discourse, as they did in the 2004 Presidential election.
If, by contrast, you favor a paradigm of human relations that values diversity, plurality, nurturance, equality and empathy, these generate multiple messages, multiple meanings, multiple aims, that can seem incoherent en masse (though not necessarily locally). Politically this seems to me very problematic. How do liberal ideas hold their place in the world without compromising their diversity?
So a key ongoing element of this inquiry into domination is how to resolve this dilemma. How can we create institutions, descriptions, naming, metaphors, and symbols, that hold true to notions of plurality, authenticity, nurturance, empathy, caring and love? So that they hold their value in contests where a handful of big ideas shaped by covert notions of absolute truth are used to sustain and regenerate control and dominance.'
Part of an answer emerged as I got this item ready for posting, when I discovered George Lakoff's book(let) Don't Think of an Elephant, written for liberal activists in the US to use in the 2004 Presidential election. Lakoff recycles his notions about 'Strict Father' politics and 'Nurturant Parent' politics detailed in his previous longer book Moral Politics—coming up with recommendations about strategies for promoting 'liberal', 'progressive', 'nurturant' political notions. It's short, cheap, direct and to the point, and worth every penny.
If you want a taste of what George Lakoff has to say in Don't Think of an Elephant , here are links to the online originals of several of the chapters.
A Man of His Words
Other relevant articles by George Lakoff.
The Power of Images