Lindsay Beyerstein has a thoughtful response* to my post on Lakoff from a few days back. Yes, I said from a few days back. Which is kinda important because blog posts have the lifespan of fruitflies** -- come each dawn, the bell is tolling for all those words you wrote the day before, which kinda sucks. So it's nice to see one achieve some shelf life. But I digress.
She takes issue with my lashing of Lakoff's "nurturant parent" model which, she explains, isn't meant to be a frame so much as a way of conceptualizing how the two parties view themselves. Fair enough. But that doesn't, as I see it, much change the critique. Whether it's the wellspring our frames emanate from or the frame itself doesn't much matter; in the end, whatever emerges will always be pointing to the nurturant parent v. strict father choice, a a match-up we'll lose.
That's because, in the the American polity, the idea of the strict father is stronger than the idea of the nurturant parent. That's how Republicans win elections -- not on health care and education and Social Security, all places the nurturant model functions best, but on scaring people over foreign threats. The nurturant parent will never win on terrorism. It's no coincidence that the only presidential recently won by Democrats fell between the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11. With domestic issues dominant, nurturant parent won; when foreign policy returned, it lost. So while nurturant parent is a fine starting place for explaining how we take care of our fellow citizens, it's no good for protecting them from alien dangers.
This means that the way we conceptualize and articulate ourselves at present doesn't work. Whether we're actually saying nurturant parent or just operating off its tenets, we need to change it. We need to understand that, as Clinton says, the American people prize strength above all else. Now, we may be able to combine strength with values more natural to our worldview, but we're going to have to figure out how, on terrorism, to be a tough dad rather than a nurturing parent. And I fear that viewing ourselves through this inherently unworkable prism is not the best way to start that evolution. NP may have a use for part of our philosophy, but I don't see any way it can possibly contribute towards a successful foreign policy philosophy.
* Seriously, go read it.
** Actually, it's 1/37th the lifespan of a fruitfly, as they live only 37 days. Still, you get the point.
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