Do not read this poster!

Another way of expressing the point of the title of George Lakoff’s book The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.  

I could say: do not read this poster!

Of course we’d read it.  And we’d be thinking about who is being inaugurated.  Nevertheless, this poster does play with  the power of not giving someone or some event any of our time.

You may have noticed that my last post about Falsehoods and Fallacies did not use the name of the man who lost the popular vote for President in 2016.  My brother Patrick commented: “Taking up George Lakoff’s suggestion to keep reminding ourselves that Donald lost the popular vote and is a minority president, how about referring to him as ‘DLo’ ‘the minident’?”  Yes, George Lakoff did advise against using the terms “president elect” or “president.”   He urged instead that we refer to “the minority president, Mr. Minority and the overall Loser.” These terms may change the frame of the discussion, but they still refer to he-who-must-not-be named.  Just as the hashtag #NotMyPresident does.

In a recent interview On the Media, George Lakoff advocated not talking about the 2016 popular vote loser at all.  What I call “The Voldemort Strategy.”  Brooke Gladstone challenged Lakoff on how journalists could do this.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: …  Hillary Clinton and journalists repeatedly took apart Trump’s phrases to demonstrate how many things he said are outlandish or based on no reasoning at all. So you say the first thing that should be taught about political language is not to repeat the language of the other side or negate their framing of the issue. What you need to do is not talk about someone and what they’re doing ….  So how can we cover Trump without covering him?  …  For the next four years, what would your advice to working journalists be?

GEORGE LAKOFF: If you’re reporting, you’re reporting on what he says. Now, however, when you report on what he says and it’s a lie, you can give a positive background. For example, he says, you know, he’s saved a thousand jobs – not exactly. Carrier Air Conditioning is going to send to Mexico 1,300 jobs of their 2,000, so two-thirds of the jobs are going to Mexico. That could be your lead.  …

At the beginning of December, the Harvard Institute of Politics held its usual post-election forum.  The headlines about this event focused on the clashes between the staff for the candidates of the two biggest political parties.  What went under the radar were the angry charges by staff of some of the losers in the Republican primaries.  They felt that their candidates were ill-served by a media that spent all its time talking about another candidate, even if the media sometimes criticized him.  The primaries were like the Harry Potter series. Voldemort knew that people reviled him, but he was all they talked about.  In the general election Hillary Clinton made this mistake, and didn’t talk enough about what were her programs and her vision for the country.  We saw how far that got her.

Yet, this is not a blog post about the election.  This is not a blog post about the results of the election.  This is a blog post about not talking about the results of the Electoral College vote.  And that’s the rub.  How can you not talk about something without talking about it?

Someone said recently to those of us who would like to have a different conversation about our country: as a start, just go out each day and do at least one act of kindness for at least one person.  That’s a good place to stop spinning our wheels in the same old rut and to move forward.  Not move on.  Move forward!

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