Where is Donald Trump's Worldview Leading Us?

I want to step back a little from the constant strum of the latest Trump scandal to the most recent outrage, the Trump constantly popping into the news literally every day. I don't remember this during the Obama administration or any other presidency frankly of my lifetime.

Every day they look for some way to get in the news even if it's negative.

Now, why would that be a good thing for them? Why would that work for them? Why would they think that it's desirable to be in the news for something that there's a lot of outrage around?

George Lakoff is the professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He's a distinguished professor. He's now the director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society.

He published a piece on his website back on July 23rd 2016, before the election.

Now, he's not predicting Trump is going to win but he's laying out all the strategies and techniques of essentially mind control - or persuasion might be a more appropriate phrase - that Trump has been using.

Now, Lakoff explains them in academic terms and gives us a good understanding of them. I'm not sure that Trump has anything close to this kind of an academic understanding - he just knows what works.

I think that for demagogues and wannabe strong men this is intuitive stuff, but there actually is a system here and Lakoff lays it out.

There's a series of learnings, a series of details, a series of frames, understandings that he's sharing with us.

The first has to do with how conservatives and liberals view government. And he says in this world view, government is viewed as family and that there are basically two kinds of family.

There's a family where the strict father is in control, always right, and everybody kowtows to daddy. That's the strict father family.

And then there's the nurturing family, where dad and mom and everybody in the family- or mom and mom or dad and dad as it may be - everybody in the family is working to nurture everybody in the family. We're all in this together.

Now, Lakoff points out that the strict father model is intrinsic to conservative thought and understanding and it's also built into our religions. In fact, it's basically the only model that's built into our religions.

I would argue that Jesus tried to change that and was only partially successful.

But in any case, Lakoff says we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms. We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have Homeland Security. He says...

"In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right...

When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good."


"What if they don't prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty...

The poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility"

And there's no place for social responsibility in this strict father family world view of conservatives, which answers a whole bunch of questions that a lot of people have been asking: why is it, for example, that conservative states want to drug test and now work requirement Medicaid?

Why would they do that? Isn't health care a right? Shouldn't everybody have access to health care?

Well, if you view poverty - even for people who are working 70, 80 hours a week but they're working for seven or eight bucks an hour - if you view poverty as a moral failing and you believe that when people fail morally they need to be punished so they won't do it again, then if somebody's poorer and they don't have access to health care you punish them.

The nurturing family worldview is that we're all in this together, so obviously everybody needs to have health care. If everybody doesn't have health care, how can we have a functioning society?

Everybody has to have food and shelter and education, these are just givens in a nurturing society.

But in a strict father society where the job of the society, of the father, of the government, the proxy for the father, the president, everybody else, the strict father's job is to instill self-discipline and righteousness.

Then the principal job of the government is to punish. It's to serve as the surrogate for the strict father, to be the strict father.

And there are a lot of people who are raised in strict father families who want that.

Certainly this was the the normal form of child-rearing in Germany, for example in 1920s.

Look where it got them.


gmiklashek950's picture
gmiklashek950 5 years 27 weeks ago

Humans are by nature hierarchical and align themselves in a status hierarchy, which in our society parallels financial worth. So we submit to an alpha male with the most money, who demands our subservience. The lack of these behaviors on the part of our former president was one of the reasons he was (is) seen as weak by many in need of a powerful alpha male leader. Relatively few animal species sort themselves out below an alpha female, but it does occur in nature, including many examples among humans. I had an old fellow physician friend in Georgia, who summarized Georgia politics as: "he just figures out which way the crowd is heading and hurries to get out in front".

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 27 weeks ago

The family that is too strict will have rebellion...the family thats too lenient will have spoiled children with no sense of responsibility. Maybe somewhere in the middle might work.

Everyone does deserve food, shelter and health care.

That being said there was a family with 16 children that I grew up close to. About 1/2 of the children would not go school....I can't go, I broke my shoe lace...etc. This entire family was on welfare....now 1/2 of the children and their children are on welfare. This was the lenient family....or what you call nurturing.

I also knew a young girl that could never go play. When she wasn't in school she was polishing the doorknobs, silverware, etc. I don't know how she turned out.

In many families papa is the boss and they aren't all Germans from the 1920's....take Italians for instance.

Seems I'm always pushing for a middle ground....All left is not good...all right is not good.

Nurturing and disipline are both needed.

So going back to the family with 16 kids....who's responsibility is it to give them shelter, food etc. Mine, Yours? What if you only have enough to feed your own children should you take from them for others that just showed up illegally?

For me it is not as cut and dried as Thom presents it. But then I'm not impressed by credentials.

If the government is telling you...Gov. Brown...don't use the electricity, gas, there isn't enought water, housing,but come on in everyone you're welcome here...that just doesn't compute. If California is the only state that has single payer for everyone then everyone desperately needing health care will come to California...right? Even if they return home after being healed, where does California get the money, we are already the highest taxed state in the nation?

LA has many of the wealthy hollywood types with their indoor and outdoor swimming pools while they rob Northern Ca. and the Colorado river of their water. It's a desert in more ways than one.

Legend 5 years 27 weeks ago

Silicon valley has more wealth. CA may have the highest taxes but it also has the most opportunity.

Outback 5 years 27 weeks ago

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Thom, interesting you bring up 1920's Germany in this context. Hitler's book “Mein Kampf” is fascinating in the parallels one notes between German society in the period between 1920 and 1924, which is the period during which he was building the foundation for his “Third Reich”. In particular, his observations on the politicians of the day and a bovine society that could only barely glimpse the corruption of their government.

One doesn't have to embrace Hitler's anti semitic views or radical solutions to appreciate that the man (perhaps nuts) was an astute observer of human nature. His treatment of propaganda, the press, entrenched politicians, and an international cabal to bleed sovereign nations dry are absolutely eerie when compared to conditions that exist globally today.

And interesting also are the parallels that can be drawn between Hitler and our present POTUS.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 27 weeks ago

So lets assume that Trump is Hitler re-incarnate....who do the Dems plan to run in the next election? It seems bashing Trump is the only thing on the agenda. Dems are leaving office so as not to be outed for sexcapades. A subject dems don't want to talk about, unless it's a repub.

I would vote for Tulsi Gabbard ( Hawaii ) in a heartbeat...A woman president...intelligent...been in the military, not a warmonger...thrown out of the DNC by DWS for speaking up about the BS going on there, a Hindu..what more could you want...disipline and nuturing.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 27 weeks ago


And you do know the people serving Silicon Valley are living in their cars and vans....not my idea of oppertunity.

Silicon Valley’s homeless: Everyday workers in shadow of tech affluence


Outback 5 years 27 weeks ago

#5 HotCoffee: I don't believe it matters in the least who the Dems decide to run in 2020. It would take a total "purge" of the DNC to alter their "DNA". We've seen what happened after the debaclke of 2016 and it's .... nada. It'll taka a total tsunami, similar to what happened with Bernie, but much, much larger to tilt the balance of power between the real interests of "the people" and these two political abominatinations (I'm talkinhg BOTH established political parties, which are only variations on the same theme) to make a significant difference in our leadership. A) Ginsberg needs to hang on until the mid-terms of 2018. B) We need a Dem sweep of at least the Senate to block any further right wing justices being installed. C) Only then can the real work begin of throwing out the career corporatists of both parties in favor of a really progressive government. It'll take at least a decade, maybe three. I won't be here, but I wish you the best ;-)

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 27 weeks ago

Well, Outback I'm afraid your right.

It's possible I will make it a decade but 3 no way.

Hopefully us commoners on both sides will stop tearing each other up and come together against the real problems.

Outback 5 years 27 weeks ago

Amen ;-)

Legend 5 years 27 weeks ago

#6. CA has a lot of homeless because you turn into an ice cube in MN if you are homeless. The oppotunity is there if you work for it.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 years 27 weeks ago

Tulsi Gabbard for president in 2024.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 27 weeks ago

Zeke, Insightful and enlightening link, but hardly necessary on this site. The endorsements by Hot Coffee and Dianereynolds are, in themselves, enough to set off red flags and generate skepticism and suspicion regarding this candidate.

Lets examine HCs first post #2. In the first paragraph HC makes a blanket, general statement, but as Perry Mason would say…"hearsay, facts not in evidence." Maybe the statement is right? Maybe it's wrong? We have no way of knowing. Are we supposed to believe it's true just because HC says it? Are we to presume it's just common sense? For many years, considering the earth to be flat was considered sense.

Then we have other paragraphs about a family of 16. However, we have no way of verifying the truth of these statements. Maybe they're true? Maybe not? Again, "facts not in evidence."

This is the kink of reporting that dominates Fox News, Hannity, Rush, Brietbart and the rest of the rightwing media…"facts not in evidence."

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 27 weeks ago

All the Democrats have to do is keep pushing radical bills like: No Taxes for people earning below 250k/year. Single Payer ( or Medicare) for Everyone, etc. And just keep on slamming them out EVERY DAY like a printing press. Make them as outrageous as they can. That will get them back in the NEWS. And there is nothing wrong with repeating bills. Remember how many times the Repossessicans tried VOTE to repeal Obamacare? Almost 60 times.. Find it by using a famous search engine using: 2016 Republicans vote to repeal Obamacare - This search string will get you there.

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