George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. His books include The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.
From Lakoff's 2014 Truthout interview with Mark Karlin:
You write, "remember that voters vote their identity and their values, which need not coincide with their self-interest." I remember writing a commentary on a poor congressional district, let's say about 98 percent white, in Kentucky. Most of the residents were on food stamps, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid - or all of them. However, they have voted in recent elections by landslide majorities to re-elect a congressman who opposes food stamps and supports cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Can you elaborate on how this can occur?--Marshal Zeringue
A single moral worldview dominates conservative policies in every domain of life - family, personal identity, sex, religion, sports, education, the market, foreign policy and politics - what I’ve called strict father morality. Your moral worldview is central to how you understand your life.
In a strict father family, the father is in charge and is assumed to know right from wrong, to have moral as well as physical authority. He is supposed to protect the family, support the family, set the rules, enforce the rules, maintain respect, govern sexuality and reproduction, and teach his kids right from wrong, that is, to grow up with the same moral system. His word defines what is right and is law; no backtalk. Disobedience is punished, painfully, so that children learn not to disobey. Via physical discipline, they learn internal discipline, which is how they become moral beings. With discipline they can become prosperous.
If you are not prosperous, you are not disciplined enough, not taking enough personal responsibility and deserve your poverty. At the center is the principle of personal responsibility and moral hierarchy: those who are more moral (in this sense of morality) should rule: God over man, man over nature, parents over children, the rich over the poor, Western culture over non-Western culture, America over other countries, men over women, straights over gays, Christians over non-Christians, etc.
On conservative religion, God is a strict father; in sports, coaches are strict with their athletes; in classrooms, teachers should be strict with students; in business, employers rule over employees; in the market, the market should decide - the market itself is the strict father, deciding that those who have financial discipline deserve their wealth, and others deserve their poverty; and in politics, this moral system itself should rule.
Conservatives can be poor, but they can still be kings in their own castles - strict fathers at home, in their personal identity: in their religion, in their sex lives, in the sports they love. Poor conservatives vote their identity as conservatives, not...[read on]