George Lakoff on Indivisible

How to frame arguments and #Resist.

Megumi Tanaka
Mar 8, 2017 · Unlisted
Image for post
Image for post

“Indivisible was actually described many years ago — it’s called the First Amendment. Print it out. Carry it with you.”

Lakoff, a professor of Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley, opened by asking what we thought of first when Nixon said, “I am not a crook.” This is the same phenomenon described in his book, Don’t Think of an Elephant. Today, he argues that journalists should use tag #ProtectTheTruth rather than #NotTheEnemy.

How to frame arguments

  1. Start with the facts
  2. Briefly acknowledge lies
  3. Finish with the facts

Image for post
Image for post
Indivisible is a non-partisan group. We can learn, however, from the marketing and framing techniques that the Tea Party has used successfully.

Nation as Family

What is the difference between Trump supporters and the resistance? Lakoff uses a metaphor for the nation as a family. These unconscious ideologies shape the values that each person sees as self-evident. This metaphor is present in stories of the Founding Fathers, the reasons we send our children to war, and the reasons why we don’t want missiles in our backyards.

Strict Parent Model

Children must learn right from wrong, good from bad, and how to be strong. In this family, one parent (the father in most cases) is the moral authority, who not only protects the family, but teaches moral views. This parent knows what is best for their children, and adherence to the rules is necessary for personal development. In this view, those who do not succeed lack discipline and strength. The goal of this parent is to raise tough, self-reliant, and disciplined children.

Nurturing Parent Model

Parents and children should have an open dialogue based on empathy and trust. The underlying belief is that the ideal society is one in which people care for and support one another. It’s cooperation rather than competition. The goal of this parent is to raise children who are happy and self-fulfilled.

Key Takeaways

These two abstract familial models make sense on a base level, but I’d like to add that individuals can exemplify ideals from both mental models. Each person cares about their children and wants them to succeed — and we should all do more to remember that the people who we disagree with are still people.

Image for post
Image for post
When Lakoff said, “Don’t let the other guys have the flag,” it really hit home for me. The logo of the United States, in my mind, has come to represent something distant from my own identity. Yet I still feel wholly American. Talk about cognitive dissonance!

Justice for All

Indivisible is a non-partisan movement. This is a group of people from all political backgrounds who feel that something is not quite right with the current administration. This is a group of people who feel like they can do more to help others. This is a group that believes in liberty and justice for all.


Citizens resisting the Trump agenda.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store