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Showing posts from May, 2009

Words and Politics: Rhetorical Skills

I heard a Democratic consultant complain about Frank Luntz this morning. The problem is, Luntz and George Lakoff give the same type of advice, but to different parties: words and phrasing matter. Politicians left, right, and center learn to manipulate words. A lot of science goes into this -- it is marketing, after all.

The New York Times Magazine had a lengthy article on attempts to persuade people to be more environmentally responsible. Neurologists, linguists, psychologists, and experts from a dozen other fields are trying to shape words and messages to get citizens to do the "right" things.

Politics and activism require marketing. Call it rhetoric. Call it manipulation. Call it framing, nudging, or whatever else you prefer. The reality is we choose words with the intention of obtaining a desired result.
For one side or the other to claim: "Our opponents use rhetoric!" is nonsense. Reading the books of Luntz and Lakoff, you realize it is all the sam…