Positive and negative concepts

Muslim girls.jpgAs we work to unite this district there are liberal groups attempting to drive us apart and bully us into supporting their extreme agenda.–Tom Reed

George Lakoff suggests that progressives “frame the debate” by choosing positive language. For example, he suggests using “protect” instead of “regulate.” Of course Tom Reed and Donald Trump know to do this too. Also, what works best isn’t always clear–is it right to speak of “corporate welfare?” Sometimes it fails–President Obama’s judicious reluctance to associate ISIS with Islam was blown away by Trump’s reckless intent to do just that.

Many ideas are popular when put into a positive context: universal background checks, medical marijuana, examine Trump’s tax returns. I thought about other examples of positive and negative concepts from a progressive perspective. Here is my list:

Positive Negative Notes
Protection Regulation George Lakoff’s example
Alternate Facts Fake News Fake news was first pro-Trump propaganda, now anything he doesn’t like.
Affordable health care Obamacare The GOP intended “Obamacare” to be derogatory, but ???
Prisons for profit Private prisons
School lunch Free lunch Betsy DeVos
Investment Spending
Environmental Protection EPA overreach
Safety Net Welfare
Insurance Entitlement
Religious freedom Islamic terrorism
Concerned citizen Extreme Ithaca Liberal
Ithaca/Tompkins County ??? What else can we call it?
Muslim Ban Keep us safe
Undocumented Illegal
Ignores constituents Listens to constituents “I think the president is doing great work in the sense of listening to the people.”–Tom Reed
 Not sure Make America Great Again Make America think again?

Did I include some inappropriate examples? Did I miss some important ones? What do readers think?




About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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7 Responses to Positive and negative concepts

  1. Maureen Harding says:

    Thanks! It’s a start. If you are really interested in positively framing the discourse, check out George Lakoff’s blog: https://georgelakoff.com/blog/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whungerford says:

    Lakoff writes: This illustrates a key principle of framing: avoid the language of the attacker because it evokes their frame and helps make their case.

    Why? Because, in order to negate a frame, you have to activate it. Frames, like all other ideas, are constituted by neural circuitry in the brain. Every time a circuit is activated, its synapses get stronger. When you negate a frame, you help the other side.

    This seems to address my uncertainty about criticizing “corporate welfare.” It would be better not to use “welfare.” But what then–corporate tax loopholes?


  3. whungerford says:

    What about Ithaca? Tom Reed loves to run against extreme Ithaca liberals and their alien liberal agenda. Should we defend Ithaca or ignore it? Should we cede Ithaca and “liberal” to the enemy?


  4. Aretha says:

    When did “liberal” become such a vulgar, nasty, and condescending word? If the Democrats want to get anywhere, they need to address this issue. Conservative is not a dirty word, why is that? Whenever a non liberal person needs to defend himself, they always resort to name calling and default to “libtards” . Not good for my self esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. whungerford says:

    Yes, I am especially offended when moderate liberal views are labeled extreme or radical. Political propaganda surely helped make “liberal” a bad word. Association of liberals with concepts seen as negative–abortion, taxes, welfare, government spending, civil rights and anti-war agitation–also helped. It is a shame that campaigning against liberals helps Tom retain his office, but I don’t see an easy answer for that. Had we better label ourselves “progressives?”


  6. Susan says:

    I’m thinking “progressives” may be a better and more descriptive term. We are attempting to progress our nation to a better place, socially and economically, if you will. The term “liberals” today, has taken on too many negative connotations from the verbally abusive and intense campaign we all just witnessed.
    George Lakoff’s blog is now on my reading list! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Deb Meeker says:

    Very interesting and enlightening. Thanks.
    One word that has been twisted 180 degrees is Entitlement.
    If I work a full day I am entitled to my pay, if I save money in a bank, I am entitled to withdraw that money as I choose, If I pay into the US government insurance funding for my older years, I am entitled to get part or all of that money back; am I not entitled to my home since I bought it?


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