Election Over, Debate over Morals Persists
On November 3rd, 2004, Talk of the Nation's Neal Conan sat down with George Lakoff to talk about how moral values ran this election
Conan:How and when did moral values come to play some a prominent role in this election?
Lakoff:They’ve been playing a prominent role in elections all the way through, from the 94 election on, and even before that.
The problem is this: that the democrats do not know how to express the unconscious values that they feel in their guts, whereas the republicans have figured out how to do it and do it very effectively. You know, moral values are not about just abortion and things like marriage and stem cells. They’re about much deeper issues, and just about all issues. The basic idea of morality in this country comes from notions of the family. Conservative values come out of what I call a strict father family, and the progressive values come out the nurturing parent family. And those are values that the democrats don’t know how to express, values having to do with both care and responsibility, responsible caring. But also, out of that comes protection, comes opportunity, comes the value of community, of trust—of all the things that progressives in this country feel very deeply, and that lie behind all of their legislative proposals.
But they don’t know how to talk about their values. They don’t know how to express them. They don’t know how to come together around their values the way the republicans have done. So it’s very important to understand that the moral values issues are not about just these few things like abortion and so on. They’re about everything. What’s protection about? Protection is not just about terrorism, thought it is about that. It’s also about environmental protection, consumer protection, worker protection, economic protection for people who are economically vulnerable. These are major major issues that are values issues. The democrats have made a major mistake in thinking that they’re special interest issues and that people vote their self interests. People don’t. People mostly vote their values, and that’s what this shows.
For the rest of George Lakoff's analysis with Neal Conan, visit Talk of the Nation