Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Politics and the Family

In tonight's Republican Convention speeches, we saw two different takes on American culture: the Strict Father and the Nurturing Mother.

For those who follow my blog and politics, you know that I am a fan of George Lakoff's family model of politics.  Briefly, it says that most Americans have two mindsets: a father model, where respect and obedience are of primary importance; and a mother model, where nurturing and love are primary.

We saw both of these models tonight.  Ann Romney spoke mostly about love.  She spoke about struggling families and the love in their relationship bringing them through hard times:
And I want us to think tonight about the love we all share for those Americans, our brothers and sisters, who are going through difficult times, whose days are never easy, nights are always long, and whose work never seems done.
This is exactly the progressive mindset that Lakoff describes.  The interesting point is that Lakoff's research shows that talking in this nurturing model makes people think more progressively and more likely to vote Democratic.  She finished with this:
I said tonight I wanted to talk to you about love. Look into your hearts.
This is our country.
This is our future.
These are our children and grandchildren.
Gov. Christie was next.  He spoke in a different model:
 [My mother] said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.....Tonight, we choose respect over love.
This is Lakoff's father model, which gets people to think like a Republican and vote more conservatively.  Clearly, Christie is more in tune to politics that Ann Romney.  Romney's speech could actually persuade many women to vote Democratic.  But even Christie showed some of the motherly frame of mind:
Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice.
This "shared sacrifice" terminology is something that Obama uses regularly to talk about progressive agendas.  Sharing brings up the progressive mindset.  Sharing leads to policies that promote the greater good: health care for all, unemployment assistance, well funded public education, and quality infrastructure.

My parents instilled in me the importance of love more than respect.  I'm not saying that I wasn't taught respect.  Again, all of our minds have both typologies.  But, the strongest underlying theme in my family was that love and nurturing were more important than obedience and respect.  Love and nurturing leads to respect, rather than Christie's claim of vice versa.

The love in my family led me to believe in progressive values.  How has your upbringing made you think about politics?  Have you thought about these mindsets before?

(And thank you to tonight's speakers for possibly convincing a few more people to think like Obama.)