I’m currently reading Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by American pollster and advisor to the Republicans, Frank Luntz. The book is all about what words convey and the importance of using simple language for politicians and all communicators. It’s a good complement to a book I read last year and that changed my life to such an extent that I keep on highly recommending this book to any political activist I get to meet: George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate–The Essential Guide for Progressives. Based on the science of how the brain works, Lakoff says that Democrats in the US lose most elections because they spend their time criticising their opponents, thus repeating the other side’s arguments and language over and over, which basically gets them free publicity. In short: if you want to win people’s approval, make your own concepts based on your core values, rather than use the concepts your opponents created; in the US for example, Democrats keep on using terms that have been invented by the Republicans such as ‘purchasing power’, ‘gay marriage’ and ‘pro-life’. This frames the debate in favour of what conservatives defend. If you’re not ‘pro-life’, what are you? ‘pro-death’? or ‘anti-life’ perhaps? How can you be something else than in favour of life? Lakoff’s book is an essential reading.
This summer I read another book that blew me away: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything by Democrat political campaigner, Joe Trippi. The book makes the link between my passion for politics and my passion for the Internet. Trippi tells the story of the Howard Dean campaign for being the Democrat nominee for the 2004 presidential election. The Internet tools that had such a key role in Obama’s election were first tested during the Howard Dean campaign Joe Trippi headed. His main point is that while television has gradually disconnected people with politics and their own community in the second part of the 20th century -about this, read the excellent Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam– the Internet, and social networks specifically, is getting people to re-connect with each other and re-engage in politics. While for decades people were only consulted through polls and on election days, nowadays the possibility for everyone to open a blog, tell what they think and impact decision-makers, is radically changing politics as we know it, 20th century style politics, driven by the power of television and opinion polls. A fascinating read.
Next on my reading list are:
- The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics by George Lakoff again (I’m a fan)
- The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen
Any suggestions?Tags: Books, Conservatives, Democrats, Drew Westen, Frank Luntz, George Lakoff, Joe Trippi, Political disenchantment, Progressives, Republicans, Robert Putnam, US