Why Barack Obama Is GOP Enemy Number One



The first time I saw this video, I was not surprised at all.

What I wanted to know was where the directive came from that had all of these voices repeating the same type of phrases over and over, as if by the sheer force of their vocal cords and the machine gun like repetition of "Obama" and "rape", these radio and TV shock jocks could conjure the image of the black male rapist deep within their listeners psyches, throwing yet another log on the fire of racial animus the conservative minority still relies on, even in 2009, to do the dirty work of coloring the minds of their less sophisticated supporters against Barack Obama.

What I found out got me to thinking so deeply about what the purpose of Brown Man Thinking Hard should really be that I had a hard time getting my arms around what it was I wanted to say about the video above. So I pushed "PLAY" over and over while I wrote this.

I am a big believer in the power of language. And even though I struggle to use the most positive words I can, in some instances, I think this power, when used in a negative manner, far exceeds that of the largest caliber gun to terrorize people, to threaten their sense of security, to connect them to their deepest seated fears.

The GOP believes the same thing.

This video actually coincides with another thought I had in the last couple of days. Given the many millions more people who self-identify themselves as Democrats versus those who identify themselves as Republicans, why hasn't the Democratic Party simply extinguished the GOP by now?

George Lakoff, a fellow at the Rockridge Institute and the author of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, had the best answers I could find to my question in the excerpts below from an interview he did for UC Berkeley News back in 2003.

LAKOFF: "...conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing...And that's the problem. Liberals don't get it. They don't understand what it is they have to be doing."

QUESTIONER: How does language influence the terms of political debate?

LAKOFF: Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame.

If you then add the word "voter" in front of "revolt," you get a metaphorical meaning saying that the voters are the oppressed people, the governor is the oppressive ruler, that they have ousted him and this is a good thing and all things are good now. All of that comes up when you see a headline like "voter revolt" - something that most people read and never notice. But these things can be affected by reporters and very often, by the campaign people themselves."

QUESTIONER: Why haven't progressives done the same thing [learn how to frame their language]?

LAKOFF: "...conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing...And that's the problem. Liberals don't get it. They don't understand what it is they have to be doing."

"Conservative foundations give large block grants year after year to their think tanks. They say, 'Here's several million dollars, do what you need to do.' And basically, they build infrastructure, they build TV studios, hire intellectuals, set aside money to buy a lot of books to get them on the best-seller lists, hire research assistants for their intellectuals so they do well on TV, and hire agents to put them on TV. They do all of that. Why? Because the conservative moral system, which I analyzed in "Moral Politics," has as its highest value preserving and defending the "strict father" system itself. And that means building infrastructure. As businessmen, they know how to do this very well.

Meanwhile, liberals' conceptual system of the "nurturant parent" has as its highest value helping individuals who need help. The progressive foundations and donors give their money to a variety of grassroots organizations. They say, 'We're giving you $25,000, but don't waste a penny of it. Make sure it all goes to the cause, don't use it for administration, communication, infrastructure, or career development.' So there's actually a structural reason built into the worldviews that explains why conservatives have done better."



This interview was done a few years ago, as this next segment shows:


QUESTIONER: Do any of the Democratic Presidential candidates grasp the importance of framing?

LAKOFF: "None. They don't get it at all. But they're in a funny position. The framing changes that have to be made are long-term changes. The conservatives understood this in 1973. By 1980 they had a candidate, Ronald Reagan, who could take all this stuff and run with it. The progressives don't have a candidate now who understands these things and can talk about them. And in order for a candidate to be able to talk about them, the ideas have to be out there. You have to be able to reference them in a sound bite. Other people have to put these ideas into the public domain, not politicians."


If you take a step back and look at the political landscape of the past eighteen months, it becomes evident why Barack Obama is GOP Enemy Number One. Frank Luntz, the famed and feared GOP strategist who is a key influence on many of the party's political buzzwords and phrases, took his hat off to the Obama team last year, acknowledging that they had outwitted the McCain camp from Day One.

The organization Obama built, in terms of discipline, communication and ability to stay on task, was unprecedented for a Democratic nominee. Non-union citizens literally "bought in" to the political process with small donations that made them feel like they were a part of something big. Obama campaign members learned how to tap into the power of the personal narrative, successfully influencing and motivating reluctant citizens to not only register to vote, but also show up at the polls. Most of this was done by volunteers FOR FREE.

That's the kind of thing that really scares the people like the Koch family from Wisconsin or the Scaife interests in Pennsylvania, and others like them who are willing to lavish billions on a conservative media system designed to keep them in control of the political process.

I am already seeing Limbaugh and Malkin and Hannity and O'Reilly and Savage for what they are - mouthpieces, similar in function to the White House press secretary, who sit on top of the billions of dollars of really rich men, billions they get to see but not touch.

In a few weeks, after a healthcare bill gets to the president's desk, you will start seeing the words and phrases from the Republican "black box", words and phrases so inflammatory that they could be labeled "radioactive. The cacophony of vitriol will be at a fever pitch.

Don't be dismayed.

It will be the sign of progress - the sound of the GOP noise machine in decline.






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10 comments:

Michael E. Ross said...

Barack as GOP Enemy #1: A fine piece. And scary too, to think that progressives don't get the importance of framing a message. The quotes from Lakoff are powerful shit. MER/Culchavox

D. Misha said...

I pray to the ancestors and the Creator that the GOP does self destruct. But I would equally appreciate a more positive message to be spread so we can get this country back in shape. Much peace Brown Man!

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Their psy-ops is working on a significant portion of the population, and you can bet they paid a lot of money for this strategy, one of many, to stir up the worst fears of the racist.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]I am a big believer in the power of language. And even though I struggle to use the most positive words I can, in some instances, I think this power, when used in a negative manner, far exceeds that of the largest caliber gun to terrorize people, to threaten their sense of security, to connect them to their deepest seated fears.[/quote]

I have no doubt that you believe every word that you say.
I struggle to understand how you don't appear to apply the "power of words" to the Hip Hop artists that make use of this imagery and worse to describe their interactions with Black males and Black females.

As I observe the markedly different reactions between the words of the "right wing" radio host versus the hip hop artist - even if they both make use of the same brand of studio microphone - the words of the 'right winger' are seen as the more superior threat to people like you.

Have you ever took a step back and asked WHY the more abundant threatening words by the Hip Hop artist is seen as inferior to you?

Since I have never seen the shooter in a "drive by shooting" get stopped by the police and found with a CD changer full of "Rush Limbaugh" recordings - I surmise that those who are a political/ideological threat to you are a bigger threat than those who prove to be more numerically likely to perform a physical assault upon you OR at least who function as the voice of those who terrorize our people on the streets.

speak the truth said...

@Brown Man...
Deep, my brother. I love the angle. It's been apparent to me for a little over a decade that Dems are losing the battle over words. It's as if Dems are always on their heels responding to Republicans and their ilk as opposed to framing the discussion. The Republicans just used this "framing" tactic to make the Dems negotiate down the Healthcare bill. It's funny because the Republicans knew all along that they weren't going to support the bill anyway. It makes the Dems look inept as all of the negotiated points were in vane. Hopefully, the Dems will adjust and start taking the fight to them.

@Constructive...
You have a point, but it's limited. Your logic ignores two things. For one, it doesn't consider the social ills that drive people to the violence that you attribute to the words of Hip Hop. And two, Hip Hop lyrics do not influence policies that affect our daily lives.

Certainly comparing Right Wing imagery and language to Hip Hop imagery and language is fair; but which is more negative is debatable.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]For one, it doesn't consider the social ills that drive people to the violence that you attribute to the words of Hip Hop. [/quote]

Brown Man - I am on record for several years saying that one day we are going to hear a Black Historian slip up and - for the sake of intellectual consistency - go back and make the case that the "Klan youth" that used to attack Black people during the Civil Rights Era were "White Trash" that were economically marginalized by the White Establishment. This triggered their violent attacks against Black people and thus - THEY SHOULD BE FORGIVEN.

Will you be the first one to promote such intellectual consistency Brown Man?

[quote]
And two, Hip Hop lyrics do not influence policies that affect our daily lives.
[/quote]

Wow.
Wow!!

Black Man:
Take a look at this picture in this post:
http://withintheblackcommunity.blogspot.com/2008/12/democrats-have-alliances-that-few.html

Could you tell me WHY this White Liberal Democratic senatorial candidate in Georgia last year drew upon these potty mouthed hip hop stars (2 of whom have criminal records and were drug dealers into the BLACK community) to bring out the BLACK VOTE?

On stage with these 3 are a sitting county sheriff and a Christian preacher. They both wanted to get this Democrat elected more than they were concerned about the character of the people they take the stage with.

What basis do you have that THE MESSAGES as projected in Hip Hop do not impact the POLICIES under which we live? They most certainly do in that they propagate a certain CONSCIOUSNESS.

Constructive Feedback said...

Sorry Brown Man - it was "Speak The Truth" that I should have directed this to.

GeniusJunky said...

I don't know if the GOP's cynical political maneuverings are outrightly racist, but I do know that Michael Steele's inability to align them (coupled with obvious race baiting coming from the talk radio world) should cause a mass black exodus from them. It won't, though: you know why? because they will trot out their token brothers-- Keyes, Powell, Steele-- and say "heuy! Look! We're not race-baiting! We LOVE black people!"

Of course, they're lying. Their consistency with language-- a case in point being this continual "rape" reference-- is proof.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]should cause a mass black exodus from them.[/quote]

GeniusJunky:

When you say "Mass Exodus".....doesn't there need to be a MASS OF BLACK PEOPLE in place BEFORE you can have an exodus?

Here is where I struggle with people who think like you:

If we enumerate the key places where our people are "losing the race":

* Academics
* Public Safety
* Local Economic Opportunity

I struggle to see WHERE the evil, racist GOP is the prevailing force that is triggering the results that we here so many grievances about. In fact in these areas of our community the DEMOCRATIC PARTY - as supported by the SOLD OUT BLACK ESTABLISHMENT are in control.

The only logical justification for the incessant diversion attempt over toward the Republicans despite the few Blacks that reside with this party AND the lack of traction that they have WITHIN our community is that by finding this EXTERNAL negative force to unify around - those who are in power (or the minions who seek to protect them) seek to keep us diverted on the outside of our space rather than working on effective MANAGEMENT solutions about how to address the problems.

It is time for us to switch from ACTIVISM to MANAGEMENT, now that the people who the Black community have voted for are in place over all of the key institutions of our communities.

Some of you willfully obfuscate away from the consideration of WHICH FORCE has the most proportional power because to do so would derail your agenda.

speak the truth said...

@Constructive...
Ooookaaay. You must really have long arms...because you are really reaching to make your point.

You didn't address the flaws with your logic in trying to make the connection between right wing hate speech and Hip Hop lyrics.

Your quote "...make the case that the "Klan youth" that used to attack Black people during the Civil Rights Era were "White Trash" that were economically marginalized by the White Establishment."

I really don't see where I did that. I just made the point that the violence in the Black community has less to do with Rap music and more to do with social conditions. Again, this point is ignored with your logic. But since we're here, let me educate you. Rap actually documents social behaviors and often adds shock value to boost sales. As it is documentation, this suggests that it already existed prior to the Rap industry exploiting it in song. I'll give you that it has the ability to perpetuate violence; but it is certainly not the harbinger of violence. If that were the case, then violence on TV and in movies should have the same impact which they do not of course.

Your quote "Take a look at this picture in this post:
http://withintheblackcommunity.blogspot.com/2008/12/democrats-have-alliances-that-few.html"

What you have here is a picture of rappers supporting a political candidate. I really cannot see how this is contorted into influencing policy. Do you have any examples of how Hip Hop influenced legislation?

P Diddy organized the Vote or Die campaign some years ago. And Russell Simmons is pretty active in bringing the Hip Hop generation to the polls. But their impact is minimal at best and focused on voter turnout as opposed to a legislative agenda.

On the other hand, I hear Republican politicians repeating the talking points at rallies, in Congress, and in the media to which Brown was eluding. Example...the Birthers produced a bill based on the fact that many in that group doubted Obama is a natural-born citizen. That's what I mean by influencing policy.

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