For months now The Liberal Message has been begging Democratic candidates to never talk about policies without talking about values—that is, the core beliefs that underline those policies, such as fairness, equality, personal freedoms, helping the people most in need, etc.
So we were thrilled to run across a recent blog post by a bona fide Smart Person with actual readers who says the same thing. Every Democratic candidate should read this essay by George Lakoff, the UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science who wrote the famous book Moral Politics (which describes the strict father/nurturing parent psychology that underlies conservative and liberal beliefs, respectively). This latest essay is mostly about the psychological mechanisms that make Trump and his supporters tick, but the good stuff for Democrats is the last section, on how progressive candidates can counter Trump’s messaging.
Briefly, Lakoff says Democrats should:
- Start with a discussion of values and then relate policies to them.
- Stay positive, emphasize facts, and use repetition in making your case.
- Support the police.
- Support unions (as an instrument of freedom for workers).
- Don’t let yourself be drawn into mudslinging. Channel President Obama and keep it classy.
- De-emphasize identity politics. Democratic constituencies are important, but be sure to speak inclusively, for everyone (including, he says, poor white Americans; see our previous post).
Lakoff has lots more good details. It’s valuable reading and a complementary viewpoint to our own 7 Winning Messages for Democratic Politicians.