Politics6

Failed States                    Noam Chomsky                  Nov 2006
Thinking Points               George Lakoff                    Nov 2006
God's Politics                  Jim Wallis                            Jan 2007



Failed States                        Noam Chomsky            Nov 2006

Another "Bad People doing Bad Things" book.  It is sub-titled "The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy".  

C1  Stark, Dreadful, Inescapable  "We must apply to ourselves as we do to others."  Documentation of how Bush violates his promises.  Both Bush and Clinton played fast and loose with global catastrophe.  Global defense and warning systems are prone to error and attack.  Global environmental catastrophe is sending out warning signals which are being ignored.  Iraq is a generator of Moslem terrorism.  When Iraq was invaded the energy (oil) and security ministries were protected, military supplies, cultural artifacts, infrastructure, etc. were not secured.  And we wonder what the motive was for attacking Iraq?

C2  Outlaw States  Starts with a description of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg principles and spends the rest of the chapter describing how the US and it's partners violated them.

C3  Illegal but Legitimate  A discussion of American expansionist foreign policy.  He bounces around a lot but the main topics discussed are policy with regard to the Middle East - primarily Iraq, positioning of bombers in the Pacific before WWII, the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in the 1970's - 1990's, American policy following the War of 1812, the conquest of Spanish Florida in 1818, and the Monroe Doctrine , and the bombing of Serbia in 1999.

C4  Democracy Promotion Abroad  "Promoting democracy abroad" has been a primary goal of US Foreign policy wince Woodrow Wilson, and an excuse for military force.  This is very common, Japan and Germany both used it as an excuse before WWII.  When this doesn't work, a "War on Drugs" can always be invented.  Discusses Chile, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, and WWII.  He then jumps back and forth between Iraq, Central and South America, and the Middle East.

C5  Supporting Evidence: The Middle East  An extended discussion of Israeli-Palestinian problems.

C6  Democracy Promotion at Home  What are some of the problems with American Democracy.  Chomsky starts out with theoretical problems, then economic problems, and then on to the election of 2004.  Extensive discussion of the conservative policies at that time (as he sees them).

Afterward  A description of what Chomsky sees as the problems which are important to Bush between 2004 and early 2006 and a short historical description of them.  A common complaint about critics is that they complain about what is wrong but they don't offer solutions.  He translates this as, "They present solutions, but I don't like them."  He ends the chapter with seven suggestions:
  1. Accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court.
  2. Sign and abide by the Kyoto Protocols.
  3. Let the UN take the lead in international crises.
  4. Rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones.
  5. Keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter.
  6. Give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centers disagree.
  7. Cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending.
He ends the book with 35 pages of Notes and 11 pages of Index.  As I have commented before, this is a book about (bad?) people doing bad things.  Yes, I know - tell me something new.  Or at least say so in a new way (see  Kevin Phillips American Theocracy).  Give me something more than, "Don't let bad people make bad decisions.", that doesn't help much.  For this kind of a book, as I have suggested before, produce a data base with all of the relevant information, who, what, why, where, when, etc. and document it well enough so that a lawyer presenting the case would consider it an invaluable source.  Hopefully numerous authors (researchers) could collaborate in such an endeavor and make it a truly useful tool instead of being buried in numerous rather dull books that are likely to be read only by partisans.  Such a data base can be "data mined" to potentially discover relationships which are not obvious when presented in a narrative form.

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Thinking Points                George Lakoff             Nov 2006

Subtitled: Communicating our American Values and Vision

Preface:  American values are inherently progressive, but progressives have lost their way.  We have taken these values for granted and we have lost our ability to articulate a progressive vision.  The radical right understands its values and knows its agenda.  Progressive leaders have all they can do just to maintain themselves and fight a delaying action on the agendas of the radical right.  If the fight is to be won it will be won by many voices outside of the Beltway.

Introduction:  Why We Write  Our country has a long history of progressivism.  This is based on the words and actions of our greatest patriots like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Muir and many others.  They are no longer with us.  Today we must face a radical right that is dedicated to overturning the legacy that these patriots left behind.  Our job today is to recover the freedoms and rights that these patriots fought for and ad to their legacy.

C1  Winning and Loosing  In 1980, Reagan's chief strategist made an amazing discovery.  Voters who disagreed with Reagan on the issues would still vote for him.  Reagan was talking about values, not issues.  Voters didn't necessarily agree with all of his values, but they agreed with enough and they trusted Reagan.  They trusted him to do what was right.  One misunderstanding, common among progressives, is that the Reagan and George W. Bush elections was that they were about "personality" rather than anything substantive.  Nothing is more substantive than a candidate's moral worldview, and whether he authentically abides by it.  This book is not about winning and losing elections - it is about winning and lowing hearts and minds.  Progressives have failed to understand that elections are based on values and they have failed to understand recent advances in cognitive science so they fail to understand the traps that they can fall into.

Twelve Traps to Avoid  
  1. The Issue Trap  It is said all the time, progressives don't unite behind any one set of ideas (issues).  This is largely true.  Progressives agree at the level of values, they just argue issues.  Conservative argue conservatism no matter what the issue.  We need to follow their lead.  We need to respect our diversity on the issues but never loose tract of our Nurturant Parent values.
  2. The Poll Trap Many slavishly follow pools.  The job of leaders is to lead, not follow.  Polls are only as accurate as the framing of their questions.  Real leaders don't use pools to find out what positions to take; they lead people to new positions.
  3. The Laundry List Trap  Progressives tend to believe that people vote on the basis of lists of programs and policies.  In fact, people vote based on values, connection, authenticity, trust, and identity.
  4. The Rationalism Trap  There is a commonplace - and false - theory that reason is completely conscious, literal, logical, universal, and unemotional.  Cognitive science has shown that everyone of these assumptions is false.  Failure to understand this has led progressives to assume that logical arguments alone will convince voters to support a candidate.  This is just not true; you need values, trust, etc.
  5. The No-Framing-Necessary Trap  Progressives often argue that "facts speak for themselves."  False - facts are interpreted by deeper frames.  Facts need to be framed appropriately to be seen as truths.
  6. The Policies-Are-Values Trap  Progressives regularly confuse policies and values.  Policies are not values but they should be based on values.  Example:  Social Security and universal health care are policies meant to reflect and codify the values of human dignity, the common good, fairness, and equality.
  7. The Centrist Trap  Many believe that there is an ideological center.  This is false, there are many biconceptuals - people who are conservative in some aspects and progressive in other aspects.  If candidates "move to the right" to get more votes they just activates the right's values and give up their own.  In the process, they alienate their base.
  8. The "Misunderestimating" Trap  Many progressives think that people who vote for conservatives are just stupid when they vote against their economic self-interest.  False:  they are voting for their values, conservative populism is cultural - not economic - in nature.  Progressives paint conservative leaders as incompetent and not very smart, based on a misunderstanding of the conservative agenda.  To truly understand conservative goals you must look at them through conservative values.
  9. The Reactive Trap  By and large progressives have been letting conservatives frame the debate.  Mostly progressives have been reactive and often using conservative frames to do so.  We need a collection of proactive policies and communication techniques to get our own values out on our own terms.  We must change frames, not reinforce conservative frames.  And we must do this on a daily basis for perhaps years to change the frames of biconceptuals.
  10. The Spin Trap  Some progressives believe that the key to winning is clever spin and catchy slogans - what cognitive scientists call "surface frames".  Surface framing doesn't work without established deep frames - our deepest moral convictions.  Spin is the dishonest use of surface linguistic frames to hide the truth.  Progressive values and deep frames must be in place before slogans can have an effect.  Conservative slogans work because they have been communicating their deep frames for decades.
  11. The Policyspeak Trap  Progressives often use legislative jargon and bureaucratic solutions like "Medicare prescription drug benefits".  They should speak in terms the actual concerns of voters, like how a policy will make college available to their children or reduce the cost of medicine.
  12. The Blame Game Trap  It is convenient to blame our problems on the media and conservative lies.  Yes, conservatives have lied and distorted the truth and the media has repeated the conservative frames.  We have no control over this - but we can control what we communicate.  We must reframe from our moral perspective and get our deep frames into public discourse.  And if we get our frames out there, the media will be much more likely to adopt our frames.
Have we dug ourselves in too far?  No!  America was founded as a progressive nation and most of our heroes have expressed their ideas in progressive frames.  We just need to avoid following into these traps and get our values out there.  The ground is tilled and the seeds are planted, we just need a little water and fertilizer to grow a bumper crop.

C2  Biconceptualism  We are all biconceptuals.  If you are a progressive but can understand a Rambo movie you have a passive conservative worldview.  If you are a conservative but can enjoy The Cosby Show you have a passive progressive worldview.  What we are interested in is people who are active biconceptuals, those who use one moral system in one area and another in another area.  Examples are those who are fiscally conservative and socially progressive or those who support a liberal domestic policy and conservative foreign policy. An example of  a partial conservative would be Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.  He is progressive with regard to environmental protection, abortion rights, and workers' rights.  He is conservative with respect to faith-based initiatives, school vouchers, and Bush's policy on Iraq.  Examples of conservative partial liberals would be those who love the land like hunters, fisherman, cyclists, hikers, campers, farmers, etc.  

For many years many people have been discussing the proverbial ideological "center".  This is a totally worthless effort, based on the ability to create labels and assign people to these labels.  The labels are not predictive of any behavior.  They are more likely to predict the relative popularity of the various labels.  They are sort of like the mythical family with 2.3 children.  This is merely one number divided by another number.  Real families have either 0, 1, 2, 3, ... children.  Swing voters are typically composed of a biconceptual "center" that includes partial conservatives, partial progressives, and undecideds (biconceptuals in nonpolitical areas of life with no fixed moral views governing their politics).  Conservatives have been talking to them for years, using conservative language to activate conservative frames and using antiliberal language to inhibit progressive values.  They can do this by talking to biconceptuals using the same language they use for their base without compromising their values.  Progressives can do the same, they just have to do it, and often.

In all of this you need to be authentic.  You must stick to what you believe.  If you try to support values that you do not believe in you will eventually be found out.  Lincoln said it very well, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time."

C3  Frames and Brains  "Framing" is not primarily about politics or political messaging or communication.  Frames are the mental structures that allow humans to understand reality.  Political framing is applied cognitive science.  Our use of frames is mostly unconscious and automatic.  The sociologist, Irving Goffman, was one of the first to notice frames and how they structure our interactions with the world.  The linguist, Charles Fillmore, studied frames at the level of the sentence.  The rest of the chapter is devoted to frames.  He discusses deep frames using "The War on Terror" as an example, how the term was selected and what the frames surrounding it imply.  Issue-defining frames characterize the problem, assigns blame, and constrains possible solutions.  The issues of Iraq and immigration are used as examples.  Messaging frames are very commonly used in political debate.

Lessons from Cognitive Science
  1. The use of frames is largely unconscious.
  2. Frames define common sense.  Common sense has been defined elsewhere as, "What you learned before the age of 12."
  3. Repetition can embed frames in the brain.
  4. Activations links surface frames to deep frames and inhibits opposition frames.
  5. Existing deep frames don't change overnight.
  6. Speak to biconceptuals as you speak to your base.
  7. The facts alone will not set you free.
  8. Simply negating the other side's frames only reinforces them.
The concept of rationalism is both a boon and a limitation.  Rationalism came out of the Enlightenment about 350 years ago.  It says that reason makes us human and all humans are equally rational.  Therefore we can govern ourselves and do not need a king or a pope to govern us and since we are all rational the best form of government is a democracy.  The problem is that rationalism is an ideal that only works well in specialized fields like mathematics and science, in order for it to work well there needs to be specific set of ground rules that everyone follows.  This is not often the case in human discourse.

A major problem for progressives is to quantify and describe our values and the policies based on them.  Since our conceptual systems are largely unconscious it is difficult to provide morally based arguments.  Cognitive science can help in this regard.  The chapter ends with a list of words (concepts) that conservatives have redefined.  It gives the conservative terms and the frames for these terms and how progressives must reclaim them back.  These terms are liberal, patriotism, rule of law, national security, family values, and life.

C4  The Nation as Family  Our political beliefs are structured by our idealizations of the family.  We grow up in families and we transfer our frames from family to the nation.  Since our family frames are so important this transfer to nation-as-family metaphor structures entire worldviews.  Americans have two very different idealized models of the family, the "strict father" family and the "nurturant parent" family.  All people are personally biconceptual, we all understand both and use both for different aspects of our life.  However these models are contradictory, they cannot be applied in the same situation at the same time by the same person - they are mutually inhibitory: activating one inhibits the other.

Nurturant Parent: Parents are equally responsible for the moral development of children.  Their primary duty is to love them and nurture them.  Nurturing has two aspects: empathy and responsibility, both for oneself and others.  Parents raise children to nurture others which requires empathy for others, responsibility for oneself, and social responsibility.  Parents are authoritative without being authoritarian.  Obedience derives from love - not fear of punishment.

Progressive Vision:  Progressive political morality is based on two things, empathy and responsibility.  When you responsibly act on your empathy you come up with the following goals: protection, fulfillment in life, freedom, opportunity, fairness, equality, prosperity, equality, and community.  Following from these progressive values are four core political principles:
Strict Parent:  The family has two parents, a father and a mother.  We live in a dangerous world with competition and winners and losers. A strong father protects the family from evil and supports it by winning competitions.  The father is the moral authority, he knows right from wrong, is inherently moral and heads the household.  Obedience to the father is moral; disobedience is immoral.  The mother supports and upholds the authority of the father but she is not strong enough to protect the family or impose moral order by herself.  Children are born undisciplined.  The father teaches them right from wrong.  When children disobey the father must punish them so that they can develop an internal discipline to do right.

Conservative Vision:  Conservative morality centers on authority and control, both self-control and control over others.  Legitimate authority is morally good and this authority must be obeyed, failure to obey results in punishment.  Other values follow from these fundamental components of authority and control.
Causation Theories  Conservatives tend to argue on the basis of simple, direct, individual causation while progressives tend to argue on the basis of systemic, complex causation.  Two examples are terrorism and poverty.  Conservatives tend to see terrorism in simple terms, evil people doing evil things who deserve to be punished.  Progressives tend to see terrorists as being caught up in a bad situation and doing evil things to resolve the situation.  Progressives would like to do something about the situation while stopping the individuals from performing terrible acts.  These different viewpoints become very important in trying to find a solution.  Conservatives see the American dream as available to anyone who is disciplined, moral, and ambitious.  If you are poor you are by definition lazy and immoral.  Progressives see a complex set of factors, education, cultural, racism, etc. which limit opportunity.  The same direct vs. systemic causation dichotomy occurs in many other areas for example crime, health care, immigration, etc.

Identity Issues  Why should someone in a stable, long-term, and loving heterosexual marriage be threatened if a gay or lesbian couple were to marry?  If you are a pure conservative and your worldview is strict father in every aspect of your life this worldview defines your very identity, your notion of right and wrong, parenting, running a a business, and your sexual identity.  From this point of view a father must be a man, a mother must be a woman, and you must have both to have a family.  Gay marriage attacks everything that you hold to be true.  It is similar for abortion: a father is responsible for everything about his daughter, her clothes, her education, and her sexual activities - he must "give her away" to her husband before she can have sex.  If she should get pregnant our of wedlock he decides whether or not to let her have an abortion.

Conservative Populism  Liberals tend to think that all they need to do is explain to poor and middle-class conservatives that they are voting against their economic self interest if they vote for conservative candidates.  They think that lower income conservatives are not very bright or all politically uninformed and are being bamboozled by rich conservatives.  Just tell them the truth and they will understand.  Wrong, Wrong, and Double Wrong!  It's a culture war, they have been saturated with strict father morality and simple causation.  They have been told that the liberal elites are oppressing them.  The solution: reach out to them with the progressive values that they share and help them understand that their values are being threatened by extreme right wing ideologs.

C5  Morality and the Market  A common refrain from conservatives is: "Leave it to the market."  You hear it on almost any issue whether it be health care, Social Security, global warming, campaign finance, or minimum wage.  It is even used in foreign policy, the Iraq war was partially about bring a free market to Iraqis, much of our efforts in international relations are about fostering free markets through free-trade policies.  The idea of a free market was promulgated by Adam Smith.  Briefly his idea was that everyone is trying to maximize his profit and that there is an "invisible hand" - a law of nature, that guarantees that such a market maximizes the profit for all sellers and buyers and so it helps everyone - including the nation.  Maybe so, but such a market makes many assumptions that are clearly not true but conservatives have convinced most, including liberals, that it is true.

In the strict father model the "free market" plays an important role.  The free market is the competitive system that rewards the disciplined and punishes the undisciplined. The market is th fundamentalist economics what God is to fundamentalist religion.  God rewards the disciplined who follow his commandments and punishes the undisciplined who do not.  They are both radically individualistic.  You and you alone are responsible for your actions.  If you are disciplined and succeed in the market you become rich, if you are disciplined and follow His commandments you go to heaven.  The profit motive insures maximum efficiency and government, which is wasteful and inefficient interferes with the free market in four ways, regulation, taxes, workers' rights and unions, and tort lawsuits.  Also in conservative economics and conservative religion the Earth is to be used by human beings for their profit.  Things that are not privately owned and being used for profit have no value.  The idea that some things could be the common property of all men to bu used by all is explicitly rejected.

In progressive morality the market is a means to distribute goods and services.  Markets should help all people become independent and find satisfaction in their life.  Progressives focus their energies on where markets depart from the ideal.  In such cases government has to step in an correct them.  Where conservatives see government as interfering with the market progressives see government as protecting the market: regulation protect from harmful products and fraud, taxation uses the common wealth to build infrastructure so that individuals and businesses can thrive, unions and workers' rights help balance the distribution of power in job negotiations and promote healthful, safe, and ethical workplaces, tort lawsuits prevent irresponsible companies from harming the public.  Businesses could not thrive without the infrastructure built by government.

There are numerous myths surrounding the concept of a "free market" and conservatives know this.  They are very happy to have government support their causes and these are almost always the upward distribution of wealth.  When wealth is taken from ordinary taxpayers and given to owners, managers, and stockholders of businesses.  Its only when the government proposes to tax the rich and businesses to provide programs to support the needs of working people and consumers that they scream "foul" and bring up the free market myths.

Free Market Myths:
  1. A Purely "Free Market" is Ideal In a completely free market a drug company could market untested drugs because it could not be sued.  The free markets of the industrial revolution caused many of the problems that our current welfare system was designed to solve.
  2. People are Rational Actors  From psychology and cognitive science research we know that people don't act that way for most of their lives.
  3. There Is a Level Playing Field  Employers tend to treat laborers as a separate group and minimize their wages.  If laborers are to have living wages they need more power in their negotiations with employers.
  4. A Company's Balance Sheet Reflects True Costs  It is common for businesses to externalize costs and have government or the public pay them.  Extraction industries commonly do not pay the full open market price and dump pollutants for later clean ups by government.
  5. Everything, Even Life, Has a Fair Monetary Value  If businesses do not have to pay for something they tend not to account for it.  Many things, an endangered species, aesthetics, etc. do not have a standard value and are ignored.
  6. Markets Are Outside the Scope of Moral Judgments  Conservatives feel that unconstrained free markets are inherently natural and fair and inherently moral.  However business decisions affect human health and life and the environment.  These are moral factors, and we cannot afford to ignore them.
  7. Everyone Can Pull Himself or Herself Up by the Bootstraps  Some people may be able to do so, however it is not true that all people can.  People vary in ability, in access to training and education, and there are simply not sufficient positions so that all people can have high paying jobs.  Someone has to wait tables and pick fruits and vegetables.
Conservatives feel that privatization and deregulation are virtues that lead to less government; not true.  They lead to less responsible government.  The best decisions are made when all parties have a say in the outcome.  Communism has shown that strict governmental planning does not work but the conservative right is trying to push these decisions into corporate boardrooms for the benefit of stockholders.  This also will not work.  How can we reframe the arguments to put forward progressive ideals?  Lakoff feels that the best way is to push the progressive principles of human dignity and the common good.  Wealth has become more and more concentrated in the richest 1 percent of people.  No one can amass a great fortune without depending on the common wealth for much of his success.  Recent computer billionaires could not have gotten started without government sponsored research on computer technology, without the electric power grid, and without the internet which grew out of ARPA funded research on military communications.  Individual consumers do not have the finances to evaluate products like drugs, paint, etc. and large corporations spend millions on confusing ad campaigns.

C6  Fundamental Values  Both conservatives and progressives talk a lot about the same set of values, fairness, equality, responsibility, freedom, integrity, and security.  Sometimes they seem to be saying the same things but other times, even though they start at the same point, they arrive at startlingly different conclusions.  What a British political scientist W. B. Gallie found in the late 1950's and more recently others is that these values, which they call contested concepts, have in common is 1) that they all have an uncontested core that is generally agreed on, 2) that each concept is evaluative - it expresses certain values, and the contestation arises from value differences, 3) each uncontested version of the concept has a complex structure, and contested versions are variations on that structure.  Lakoff discusses the six values mentioned above in terms of the uncontested core, the value differences, and how conservatives and progressives evaluate each.

Fairness is unbiased distribution.  Contested values: bias, process of distributing things, things distributed, who are they distributed to.  Conservatives tend to see fairness as an open door, everyone is free to go through if they can pass the test at the door.  Progressives tend to look at pathway leading to the door and seeing steps say that those in wheelchairs can't even get to the door.

Freedom is being able to do what you want to do, providing you don't interfere with the freedom of others.  Contested values: coercion, harm, property, opportunity, fairness, justice, rights, responsibility, nature,  competition.  Conservatives tend see that the aspects of freedom are out there, all you need is the self-discipline to work hard and get them.  If you lack property this proves that you lack the necessary self-discipline.  To give them things they haven't earned (welfare, Social Security) makes them dependent.  Progressives would see a lack of sufficient money to be a human dignity problem and see Social Security, welfare, and universal health care as increasing freedom.

Equality is sameness of distribution.  Contested values: what is distributed, who things are distributed to, what the process of distribution is, what counts as the same, who does the distributing, on what basis.  Conservatives tend to see equality of opportunity.  Progressives tend to see equality of result.  In terms of college entrance, conservatives would look only at tests given at the door.  Progressives would look at the number of graduating college seniors and ask why some groups are underrepresented.

Responsibility is ??  Contested values: ?? Conservatives tend to see responsibility by looking at the person with a problem and blaming him for not being disciplined enough.  Progressives tend to see responsibility in terms of using the common wealth for the common good.  (I was unhappy with Lakoff's discussion.)

Integrity is saying what you believe and then acting on it consistently.  Contested values: to whom is it applied. Conservatives tend to see integrity as the consistent application of strictness.  They tend to apply discipline to integrity which results in unchanging actions.  Progressives tend to see integrity as the consistent application of nurturance.  As circumstances change the actions would change.

Security is providing protection through strength.  Contested values: how force is applied.  Conservatives would tend to use force to stop external threats before the threat turns into a present danger, security through use of force.  Progressives would tend to build a larger wall to keep the threat out, security through prevention.  

C7  Strategic Initiatives  Strategic initiatives are policy proposals in one area that have an impact far beyond the explicit change promoted.  They can be classified into two types.  One is a multifaceted initiative, where a targeted policy change has far-reaching effects across many areas.  it advances a range of goals through one change.  The second is the domino initiative.  Such policy changes are meant as a first step toward a broader goal, where the net steps are easier or inevitable.  Examples from the conservative side are tax cuts and tort reform for the multifaceted initiatives.  Tax cuts lower taxes and also make it impossible to fund social programs or regulatory oversight.  Examples for domino initiatives are school vouchers which makes it easier to transfer money from public to religious schools and the veto of stem cell research because Bush saw it as a first step towards legalizing abortion.  These proposals are confusing because they are designed to hide the true goals of conservatives.  Progressives should see this as positive because it shows that the American people are too sophisticated to fall for the real reasons, they must be hidden.

Lakoff goes over the Iraq war in detail, specifying the original publicized objectives and then the (covert) strategic goals of the Iraq invasion.  It is highly unlikely that the Iraq war would have been approved if the strategic goals would have been expressed or understood by the American people.  The war passed Congress because the Republicans hid their true goals and the Democrats did not examine the Presidents proposal in detail.  He goes onto discuss four possible strategic initiatives, clean elections, health food, ethical business, and transportation-for-all, and show how these could be used to serve several progressive values.  These are not meant as specific policy initiatives but as technical studies.  Instead of covering each in detail these should be evaluated anew for each policy proposal.  Pages 108-118.

C8  The Art of Arguments  The final chapter brings together a number of topics.  He starts out with a number of characteristics of effective and successful arguments:
He next evaluates some comments made by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois on the proposed repeal of the estate tax, posted on his Web site on June 7, 2006.  Again, this is too long and detailed to summarize.

Lakoff next discusses the general format of an argument frame.  He says that the general argument frame is composed of five parts:  Moral values, Fundamental principles, Issue-defining frame, Commonplace frame, and Inference.  The first three and the last are usually unique to the specific argument but the fourth, the commonplace frame, is used to link the others to frames already existing in the listener (reader).  Some of these are as follows:
He discusses the four types of stories that Robert Reich identified, "The Triumphant Individual" - the story of the self-made man, "The Benevolent Society" - how a collective set of heroes makes a better community, "The Mob at the Gates" - where America must be defended against threats from other nations and peoples, and "Rot at the Top" - warns of powerful elites who abuse their power to the detriment of the common good.

Finally he uses the parts of the argument frame to discuss arguments regarding crime-and-punishment, safety-net, political stories, the use of photos, and net neutrality.

Epilogue  The book is called Thinking Points - because thinking is the activity that has to come first in any movement.  It is about teaching the progressive community a new method of thinking about how to win the battle with conservatives.  Thinking points are the opposite of talking points, slogans, bumper stickers, T-shirt mottos, and ad copy.  These are OK, but they are not what this book is about.  Today's issues may be forgotten tomorrow.  But the principles and values behind those issues will last.

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God's Politics
                 Jim Wallis                            Jan 2007
 
Introduction:  Why Can't We Talk about Religion and Politics?  Why can't you bring up these two topics in polite company?  Abraham Lincoln had it right.  Out task is not to invoke religion and the name of God by claiming God's blessing and endorsement for our national policies and practices - to say that God is on our side.  Lincoln said that we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side.  To claim that God is on our side leads to triumphalism, self-righteousness, bad theology and dangerous foreign policy.  Asking if we are on God's side leads to repentance, humility, and accountability.  God's politics is never partisan or ideological, it challenges our politics to respond to the real needs of out country and our world.  Many polls and journalists talk about values as though they only consisted of abortion and gay marriage, when people are given the option of responding to other values these become much less important.

Many Democrats want to restrict religion to the private sphere and are uncomfortable with the language of faith and values even when applied to their own agenda.  Many Republicans want to narrowly restrict religion to a short list of hot-button social issues and obstruct its application to other matters that would threaten their agenda.  Sojourners led a petition and ad campaign titled "God Is Not a Republican.  Or a Democrat."  Wallis feels that soon Republicans will begin questioning their leaders about the morality of poverty, war, etc. and that Democrats will start to realize that being liberal need not mean rejecting religion.  The Sojourners ad rejects the Religious Right claim that God sides with only the Republicans and George W. Bush.  It states that religious people are not single-issue voters.  He repeats the ad's statements that refer to several political issues are actually religious issues and provides Biblical references for each.  These are that poverty (Matthew 25:35-40), the environment( Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1), war (Matthew 5:9), truth-telling (John 8:32), human rights (Genesis 1:27), response to terrorism (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13), and a consistent ethic of human life (Deuteronomy 30:19) are religious issues.  

Part I  Changing the Wind  
C1  Take Back the Faith
 Co-opted by the Right, Dismissed by the Left  Many feel that there has been an enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity and because of this many people around the world feel that Christianity is pro-rich, pro-war, and only pro-American.  The religious and political Right gets it mostly wrong, focusing only on sexual and cultural issues while ignoring matters of justice.  The secular Left doesn't seem to get the meaning of faith for politics at all - dismissing spirituality as irrelevant to social change.  But take it back from whom?  From religious right-wingers who claim to know God's political views but ignore the subjects He cares the most about, from pedophile priests and cover-up bishops, from television preachers, from liberal theologians, from New Age philosophers, and politicians who claim to be religious but ignore the values of faith.  Wallis is not the religious left, he sees the image of God in every human being and views human rights coming from this vision.  Scripture is clear that poverty is a religious issue.  Both personal and social responsibly are necessary for overcoming poverty, if you don't see this you have never lived or worked near poverty or poor people.  Neither religious nor secular fundamentalism can save us but a new spiritual revival could transform our society.

Wallis discusses the religious themes of the 2004 election and later.  The right tried to anoint Bush as Savior and the left gradually began to perceive that religion existed, but through a glass, darkly.  Many religious people are offended by the language, style, and moral framing of abortion and gay-marriage.  They would probably support Democrats if there were concrete measures to reduce the abortion rate by focusing on teen pregnancy, adoption reform, and real support for low-income women and supporting marriage and family without being anti-gay.  He and others met with Bush after the 2000 election and he was impressed by Bush's faith and promises.  Unfortunately Bush failed to keep his promises and his faith was based on bad theology, Bush seems to believe in a God of Charity but not a God of Justice.  After 9/11 Bush's theology became much worse.  

The author points out a number of issues where he finds the values of Jesus and the Bible are diametrically opposed to the statements of the religious Right and the views of the Republicans.

C2  A Lack of Vision  Too Narrow or None at All  Wallis tells of a talk he gave in Washington DC to a group of poor people.  He told them not to waste their time, they came to see members of Congress so they needed to recognize them quickly.  He told them that members of Congress are the people walking around town with their fingers held high in the air, having just licked them and put them up to see which way the wind is blowing.  You might think that by replacing them we could get what we want.  Won't happen, they all adjust to the reality of Washington.  The way to do it is by changing the wind.  He gives as an example the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Martin Luther King had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and on his way back from Oslo he stopped in Washington DC to speak to President Johnson.  King wanted a Voting Rights act, Johnson said that he just couldn't do it, he had used up all of his political capital and it would be another 5 to 10 years before it would be possible.  King went back to Alabama and organized the Selma civil rights march.  In 5 months the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.  Johnson wanted it but he knew his efforts would fail without political pressure.  King supplied the pressure, he changed the wind.  To change the wind you need to know where you are going and how to get there, that is vision.  

A biblical proverb states, "Without a vision, the people perish."  Wallis quotes extensively from Habakkuk.  The problems of America today are either lack of vision in public life or incorrect vision.  When politicians have visions that defend wealth and power the whole society suffers.  When Wallis considers social and economic decisions he always asks, "How are the kids doing?"  What happens to children, our own and everybody else's, is a question that illuminates all the others.

C3  Is There a Politics of God?  God Is Personal, but Never Private  Affluent countries and churches breed private disciples, perhaps because the applications of faith to public life could become quickly challenging.  Dare we search for the politics of God?  It's much easier to use God to justify our politics.  Who were the prophets speaking to?  Usually to kings, judges, landlords, and the wealthy.  And who were they usually speaking for?  Usually the dispossessed, widows and orphans (now - poor single moms), the hungry, and the homeless.  

The author was born and raised in an all-white suburb of Detroit and he began to be bothered by the poverty and racism of central Detroit.  One day he was arguing with an elder of his church and he never forgot what the elder said.  "Christianity has nothing to do with racism; that is a political issue, and our faith is personal."  He eventually left his church, not returning until he could reconcile the differences between that statement and his reading of the bible.   He believes that if we restrict our religion to our private lives we are leaving out much of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus.

Part II  Moving Beyond the Politics of Complaint
C4  Protest Is Good; Alternatives are Better
 What Are We For?  Wallis describes his activities in the few weeks before the beginning of the Gulf War in 2003.  Church leaders from the US, England, and around the world presented two similar plans for avoiding war.  They met with Prime Minister Blair and members of the British Cabinet and discussed ways of preventing a war.  Then a plan was developed which was presented to the British and the Americans.  Tony Blair met with them, President Bush refused to meet them.  In brief the plans were as follows:

A:  Remove Hussein and the Baath Party from power.  Target him but protect the Iraqi people.
B:  Pursue coercive disarmament.  Increase inspections, use a multinational force to protect and support inspectors.
C:  Foster a democratic Iraq.  the United Nations should administer it.  An American viceroy is the wrong solution.
D:  Organize a massive humanitarian effort for the people of Iraq now, do not wait.
E:  Recommit to a "road map" to peace in the Middle East.
F:  Refocus the world's energies to the thread of networks of suicidal terrorists.

C5  How Should Your Faith Influence Your Politics?  What's a Religious Voter to Do?  "The politics of God is often not the same as the politics of the people of God.  The real question is not whether religious faith should influence a society and it politics, but how."  

Recently Republicans have been the party of the religious.  Democrats have avoided the issue and displayed ignorance.  Unfortunately the only religion mentioned turned out to be gays and abortion.  Poverty, environment, war, etc. have not been seen as a religious issue.  At the end of the 2004 election Kerry did start mentioning religion, but only to religious bodies.  

Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Wallis agrees but adds the proviso, often.  It definitely increases the probability of corruption.  He goes on to give examples of churchmen being corrupted by the power of the Bush and Clinton administrations and how they have paid the price for this corruption.

Christianity has always been a part of America.  Our founders found it so important that they put it in the Constitution that the State could not control (sponsor) any religion and that no religion could control the State.  The question has never been will religious values help shape our nation, but how.  He defines fundamentalism as a revolt against modernity.  It is a reaction against the fear that one will "lose one's faith."  Religious fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Judaism, or Islam, does not create terrorism: that takes theocracy and the reach for power.  The antidote to religious fundamentalism is not more secularism, it is better religion.  Before their disastrous support creationism during the Scopes trial in 1925, fundamentalists often allied themselves with the left in supporting social reforms.  Following the trial they became increasingly conservative and, "separate from the world."  Some fundamentalists from all three religious traditions have been moving towards theocracy and away from the true message of their religion.  Secular fundamentalist make a basic mistake, they believe that the separation of church and state ought to mean the separation of faith from public life.  Everyone, secular or religious, should bring his ideals to public life.

C6  Prophetic Politics  A New Option   "Prophecy is not future telling, but articulating moral truth."  The author sees three major political options in our current public life.  Conservatism on most issues, Liberalism on most issues, Libertarian (liberal on cultural/moral issues and conservative on fiscal/economic/foreign policy issues).  He would propose a fourth option, conservative on family values, sexual integrity, and personal responsibility while being liberal on poverty, race, the environment, and foreign policy.  It stresses the link between personal ethics and social justice.  He finds support for such an alternative among all religious and ethnic groups.  He discusses the use of religion in recent political life and suggests questions for candidates to answer that would illuminate their honest values.  He says that politicians try to make us afraid of a problem and then they look for someone they can blame for it.  The media acts like it believes there are only two sides to every political issue - they want to stir up a fight between two polarized views instead of convening a public discussion to find serious answers.

Part III  Spiritual Values and International Relations  When Did Jesus Become Pro-War?  
C7  Be Not Afraid
 A Moral Response to Terrorism  In the US today we have a foreign policy based primarily on fear.  After 9/11 instead of trying to capture and punish the criminals we responded with fear.  Instead or accepting the vulnerability that the rest of the world lives with we responded with fear and lashed out at everything.  He discusses terrorism, fear, appropriate, and inappropriate responses.  He ends with repeating a column he wrote on 9/11/02.
1. Treat the thread of terrorism as very real.
2. Avoid bad theology.
3. Listen to the different perceptions of Sept. 11 around the world.
4. Let's define terrorism the right way, and allow no double standards.
5. Attack not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of terrorism.
6. The solutions to terrorism are not primarily military.
7. It's time to move beyond the old debates of pacifism vs. just war.
8. It is time to end the era of unilateral action by any nation.
9. This is not a time for peace-loving, but rather for peacemaking.
10. Finally, the fight against terrorism is a spiritual struggle, not just a political one.

C8  Not a Just War  The Mistake of Iraq  Saddam was evil, but did he directly threaten the US?  Did he threaten the world?  Were his crimes enough to justify killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US and other soldiers?  The Bush government seemed to think that the only tool they possessed was the US Army.  The threat of terrorism is much different from the threat of war.  Before the war, the only church group in the world that supported the war was the American Southern Baptists.  Wallis repeats a joint statement that a group of United Kingdom and US religious leaders published before the war.  This statement condemned the actions of Iraq but stated that for the US and Britain to go to war would be illegal, unwise, and immoral.  After the war broke out he published a list of 10 "Lessons of War".  In May 2003 Bush landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and announced, "Mission accomplished."  What mission? What was accomplished?  Who will be sacrificed?  When will the occupation be over and when will Iraq be rebuilt?

C9  Dangerous Religion  The Theology of Empire  Many are starting to use the words "empire" and "Pax Americana" to describe the relationship between the US and the World.  The religious right seems to be very comfortable with these terms.  Bush transformed himself from a sometimes Episcopal, to a Methodist, to a messianic Calvinist.  Bush increasingly sees his presidency as part of a divine plan. The problem is not with Bush's faith, the problem is that his biblical justifications for his actions are either taken out of context or employed in ways quite different from their original meaning.  It is almost as though Bush has speech-writers scanning the Bible looking for quotes that would resonate with his supporters and then rephrasing them in such a way that they support his own plans, irrespective of the biblical meaning of the quotation.  Wallis discusses evil, torture, and the use of religion by presidents.  He includes a text that a group of religious educators published in 2004 and an open letter that he sent to General Boykin following his appointment as deputy under-secretary of defense for intelligence regarding some statements that General Boykin made.

C10  Blessed Are the Peacemakers  Winning Without War  Jesus did not say, "Blessed are the peace lovers", he said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Simply putting flowers in gun barrels is not enough.  We must treat terrorists as criminals, probably using force to restrain them but not uncontrolled violence.  We must have a definitive definition of terrorism and work within that definition to develop suitable methods.  We must all strive to be peacemakers, not just peace lovers.

C11  Against Impossible Odds  Peace in the Middle East  The chapter details many of the problems of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  It discusses how neither side (nor most others) are willing to take responsibility for their actions and merely blame others.

C12  Micah's Vision for National and Global Security  Cure Causes, Not Just Symptoms.  The eighth-century BC prophet has become his national security inspiration.  9/11 should have let us joint most of the rest of the world in the realization that violence can come and change our lives.  The world told us that they were ready for the leadership that we could give to do something about the injustices that feed terrorism.  We came back looking for someone to kill and most of the world condemned us.  The world did not agree, and neither did Micah.  He said that the nations will come to the Lord's city on the highest hills and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and sit under their own vines and fig trees and no one shall make them afraid.  They asked for leadership, they got domination.  Wallis goes on to site several examples of modern day leaders repeating the lessons of Micah.

Part IV  Spiritual Values and Economic Justice  When Did Jesus Become Pro-Rich  
C13  The Poor You Will Always Have with You?  What Does the Bible Say about Poverty?  Wallis often asks people what they think the most famous biblical text about poverty is.  They always give the same answer, "The poor you will always have with you!" (Mark, 14:7)  WRONG - the entire text reads, "For you will always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me." Jesus and his disciples were at a dinner with a leper - an outcast.  A woman had just honored Jesus by pouring expensive oil on his head, an ancient sign of great honor, and the disciples were criticizing her for wasting expensive oil.  He defends her actions and tells them that they will always have the poor to minister to and to be thankful when they are appreciative, but He will not always be there for them.  When Wallis was in seminary, he and a group of students counted the references to the poor in the Bible. It is the second most prominent theme in the Old Testament (idolatry was first) and one of every 16 verses in the New Testament is about the poor or money.  In the first three gospels it is in 1 of 10 and in Luke it is in 1 in 7).  One of their group took an old Bible and cut out all the references, it was a sieve.  He accuses many churches in America of using this bible.

C14  Poor People Are Trapped--in the Debate about Poverty  Breaking the Left/Right Impasse  The chapter starts out discussing the Burger King Mom, a young woman working at Burger King, returning to her three children sitting in the corner doing homework every time she got a break between Whopper, fries, and chicken nugget orders.  Recent elections have talked about the Soccer Mom, the NASCAR Dad, the Security Mom (and don't forget the Welfare Queen), but who speaks for the Burger King Mom?  The Republicans look after their wealthy constituents, the Democrats see themselves as champions of the Middle Class and the media don't seem to care about the poor either.  He discusses facts about poverty, biblical quotations, stories about poverty fighting efforts, and a few government efforts.

C15  Isiah's Platform  Budgets are Moral Documents  Nearly 3000 years ago the prophet Isaiah offered us God's vision of a good society.  Wallis' suggestion, look to our federal budgets to see where our national priorities, the poor and families seem to have been forgotten.  More description of support cuts for families and tax cuts for the rich.

C16  Amos and Enron  What Scandalizes God?  When I first saw this chapter title I said to myself.  "Ok, Amos is one of those old Bible guys, but who is this Enron person, I don't recognize him?"  My stupid, Enron is the energy company.  What are the moral lessons here.  The circumstances around the Enron and other large company collapses are discussed, why the governmental response was totally lacking, and what we should do from a moral viewpoint.  He quotes from Amos, Isaiah (5:8), Micah (7:3), and from Jeremiah (5:28).

C17  The Tipping Point  Faith and Global Poverty  We have the information, knowledge, technology, and resources to bring the worst of global poverty to an end.  What we don't have is the moral and political will to do so.  Wallis refers to Malcolm Gladwell's, The Tipping Point, and asks if we are coming close to a tipping point where enough people see the need to finally attack the global problem of poverty.  He asks a number of questions and makes several proposals to start this effort.

Part V  Spiritual Values and Social Issues  When Did Jesus Become a Selective Moralist?  
C18  A Consistent Ethic of Life  Abortion and Capital Punishment  Political liberals often fail to comprehend how deep and fundamental the conviction on "the sacredness of human life" is for millions of Christians - especially Catholics and evangelicals.  Psalm 139:13 is the basis for much of this, "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb."  Even though the the Republicans court the evangelicals on this, they are remarkably permissive with regard to pro-choice Republicans.  Democrats are much more rigid about being pro-choice.  Democrats need to loosen up and let people have their own moral values. Democrats want to legalize abortion but don't do much to make abortions less common and Republicans take a strong anti-abortion position and then ignore it until the next election.  Democratic platform statement in 2000, "Our goal is to make abortion less necessary and more rare . . . We must continue to support efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, and we call upon all Americans to take personal responsibility to meet this important goal."  Clinton ran on a promise to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare."  The 2000 platform states that the party recognizes "different views on issues of personal conscience like abortion and capital punishment.  We view this diversity of views as a source of strength, not signs of weakness."  This was removed for the 2004 platform.  They refused to provide a link to the Democrats for Life website.

Another problem is what the Catholics would call "a consistent ethic of life" which would include abortion, allowing people to die from preventable diseases and hunger, and capital punishment.

C19  Truth Telling About Race  America's Original Sin  "America's original sin was that it was established as a white society, founded upon the genocide of another race and then the enslavement of yet another."  Why do we "have to be carefully taught ... to hate all the people your relatives hate?"  Howard Dean's speech in Columbia, South Carolina on Dec. 7, 2003 is compared to speeches by Lyndon Johnson and others.  

C20  The Ties That Bond  Family and Community Values He wonders how the Fox network gets away with preaching conservative politics and then presenting the type of "entertainment" shows that it does.  The real problem here isn't sex, it is the commodification of everything, turning all values into market values.  Why do some people join the religious right? Perhaps partially to protect their kids from the crass and degrading banality that pervades much of entertainment.  (Run by companies that benefit from far right policies.)  In 2004 married people supported Bush 57% to Kerry's 42%, unmarried people supported Kerry 58% to Bush's 40%, why?  Perhaps because because when people get married and have kids their perceptions change, they think about new things.  The Republicans have learned to exploit this, it's time that Democrats learn that it is OK to challenge sexual exploitation without becoming a prude.

Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, are all responsible for politicizing the questions of family life.  All families are facing severe stress.  The original family, the extended family, has all but disappeared from the West.  The nuclear family is stressed, low paying jobs, schedules that are impossible, and lack of community support.  Gays and lesbians who which to build families are under much more stress.  Many religious groups have serious problems with gay marriage but we cannot continue to deny civil protections and benefits.  As one envangelical leader suggested, let individual churches determine their own criteria for marriage but take away their ability to pronounce marriage blessings "by the authority vested in me by the State of Pennsylvania".  The responsibilities and benefits of civil union should be the responsibility of civil authorities.  We need to strengthen these functions to strengthen them.  We must change our discussion of values and morality from being strictly about sex to include justice, health, and poverty.

Part VI  Spiritual Values and Social Change  
C21  The Critical Choice
 Hope Versus Cynicism  He tells several personal stories, his wife dancing with the archbishop of the Church of England, his son dancing at a New Years party, dancing at a church service led by Desmond Tutu and the inauguration of Nelson Mandella.  When he was growing up the greatest challenge was that between the evangelical Christians and the secular humanists, that kind of thinking led to the religious Right.  He is also critical of what he calls "secular fundamentalism" which seems to cause an allergy to spirituality and a disdain for anything religious.  He believes that the best answer to the poor religion of the radical Right is good religion, going back to the prophets and Jesus.  He tells several stories of the choices several people have made that have improved their lives and the lives of other people.

Epilogue:  We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For  A friend of his would always tell people that "We are the ones we've been waiting for!" when people complained that we don't have any good leaders today.  If the world needs changing for the better, we have got to be the ones who change it.

The book ends with a 10 page section of notes.  There is a reading group guide available online at www.harpercollins.com (reading groups).  There are links to Sojourners, www.sojo.net and sojourners@sojo.net and Call to Renewal, www.calltorenewal.org and ctr@calltorenewal.org.  They both have periodical e-newsletters.

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