Every day, technology gives us more insight into brain function. Linguist George Lakoff, author of The Political Mind, talks with Dr. Oz about how he uses this information to study political modes of thought and about how language plays an important part in modern campaigns.
George says most people fall into one of two very different world views—conservative and progressive—but don't know exactly what they are. Over the past several decades, conservatives, mostly coming from a business environment, have used marketing techniques to capitalize on this confusion, he says. "They noticed that a lot of working people have conservative views of family and social ideas, as opposed to their views of working life, unions and nature, where they may have progressive views," George explains. An emphasis on conservative social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, ultimately inhibits liberal thinking, changing a person's entire thought process. "Liberals haven't noticed how many people have had their brains changed," he says.
Taking a page out of the conservatives' strategy may have helped Senator Barack Obama pull ahead of Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, George says. While Senator Clinton targeted interest groups in an attempt to garner votes, Senator Obama tried to create a movement based on the idea that government is about empathy. His message of connection, communication and truth resonated with more voters than Senator Clinton's list of issues and programs.
What voting really comes down to, George says, is commonality—do you identify with the candidate and will you therefore support him? "Agreeing with their values is different than agreeing with their programs," he says.
Published on July 21, 2008