Tikkun Magazine has a great article by George Lakoff, author of The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 20th Century Politics With an 18th Century Brain. He makes the point that Democrats who simply belittle the Palin choice are courting disaster. It must be taken with the utmost seriousness because the election is not about the external realities, the “issues,” and differences on the issues. It's about the symbolic mechanisms of the political mind-the worldviews, frames, metaphors, cultural narratives, and stereotypes. The Republicans can't win on realities. Her job is to speak the language of conservatism, activate the conservative view of the world, and use the advantages that conservatives have in dominating political discourse.
“…Palin is the mom in the strict father family, upholding conservative values. Palin is tough: she shoots, skins, and eats caribou. She is disciplined: raising five kids with a major career. She lives her values: she has a Downs-syndrome baby that she refused to abort. She has the image of the ideal conservative mom: pretty, perky, feminine, Bible-toting, and fitting into the ideal conservative family. And she fits the stereotype of America as small-town America. It is Reagan's morning-in-America image. Where Obama thought of capturing the West, she is running for Sweetheart of the West.
…The initial Democratic response to Palin – the response based on realities alone – indicates that many Democrats have not learned the lessons of the Reagan and Bush years…They have not learned the nature of conservative populism. A great many working-class folks are what I call “bi-conceptual,” that is, they are split between conservative and progressive modes of thought. Conservative on patriotism and certain social and family issues, which they have been led to see as “moral”, progressive in loving the land, living in communities of care, and practical kitchen table issues like mortgages, health care, wages, retirement, and so on…
What Democrats have shied away from is a frontal attack on radical conservatism itself as an un-American and harmful ideology….Nobody can achieve the American Dream or live an American lifestyle without protection and empowerment by the government. The alternative, as Obama said in his nomination speech, is being on your own, with no one caring for anybody else, with force as a first resort in foreign affairs, with threatened civil liberties and a right-wing government making your most important decisions for you. That is not what Americ
an democracy has ever been about…Democrats, in addition, need to call an extremist an extremist: to shine a light on the shared anti-democratic ideology of McCain and Palin, the same ideology shared by Bush and Cheney. They share values antithetical to our democracy. That needs to be said loud and clear, if not by the Obama campaign itself, then by the rest of us who share democratic American values.
Our job is to bring external realities together with the reality of the political mind. Don't ignore the cognitive dimension. It is through cultural narratives, metaphors, and frames that we understand and express our ideals.”