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As a second generation Berkeley native and Cal alumnus from the days of Jerry Brown's first stint as California governor, it's not surprising that I have a left, progressive political point of view. It's also not surprising that I agree with Cal professor George Lakoff that the proper use of language and framing is very important to political persuasion and winning political arguments. I believe that the left should use language that frames issues in progressive ways by using progressive framing such as using the term "climate change" instead of "global warming," and "marriage equality" instead of "same-sex marriage, and "voter suppression" instead of "voter fraud." Accordingly, I suggest that many on the left should rethink their use of the term "conservative" when describing current Republican politicians and use the term conservative only when it is truly appropriate to do so.

I think that the term "conservative" is no longer properly used in most poltical discourse today. I believe that a conservative is one who wants to conserve existing conditions and institutions, and who is resistant to change. I believe that most current Repulican elected officials are not "conservatives," but are rather politicians who have a radical, right-wing agenda of change. Therefore, I believe that progressives should not use the term "conservative," in general, when describing current Republican politicians and their agenda.

Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller were conservatives. They wanted to perserve the status quo. John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are not "conservatives," but are radical right-wingers. The last thing they want to do is perserve the status quo. They want to turn back the clock to the first McKinley administration, when a rich white male elite held all of the power and made all of the decisions in the United States. Those whose agenda includes overturning Roe vs. Wade and rolling back the New Deal and the social safety net that it created are not conservatives. Those people are right-wing activists who want radical change. Leftists and progressives should stop confusing the American public by labelling radical right-wing activists as conservatives.

Ronald Reagan made the term conservative seem honorable to a large segment of the American public. If we accept that many Americans still do believe that being "conservative" is generally a positive attribute, let's stop using the right-wing's framing and start using our own language and framing. In fact, in many ways it's the current leftists and progressives, who want to preserve Roe vs. Wade and the New Deal's safety net, who are "conservatives" of today.

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Comment Preferences

  •  YES! (7+ / 0-)

    Amen!  I'm glad I'm not the only person on Daily Kos who also being a native of Berkeley long before Kos even exists, knows what real diversity is here.

    Why aren't Kossacks turning to George Lakoff more?  He's a master at linguistics and has been very instrumental and influential in the liberal circle.

    Seriously, why must people on Kos keep referring to those in red districts as conservative.  Seriously, if say Congressman Darrell Issa for example was so conservative, why is it that he in the years of 2003-2007 keeps voting for the Iraq War funding, allowing the increases of debt to continue to pile on?

    By learning more on Lakoff, we can realize that yes, we don't have to fear conservatives.  I mean, there are, believe it or not, conservatives in Berkeley although mostly scattered in the North Berkeley hills and the nearby town of Kensington.

  •  I've been making this case for a couple of years (6+ / 0-)

    in comments.
    I call them radically regressive.
    They want to regress back to an era that never really existed, but resembles the Ozzie and Harriet 50's.

    These days I call them the "Delusioneers".

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:07:14 PM PST

  •  Many of us have been saying this for a long (4+ / 0-)

    time.  The word has no meaning.   We use insanity (but in a broader context)  in our book:Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

    The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:11:19 PM PST

  •  I call them evil radical RW nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, Mark Mywurtz, msmacgyver
  •  Exactly to the point (6+ / 0-)

    especially when you consider that they particularly resent the handle "right wing."  "Fringe" is another appropriate term which they don't like.

    Democrats and progressives have been a bit careless about choice of words for some time.  It is gratifying to see that this is changing.

    Bene Scriptum, Bene Intellectum.

    by T C Gibian on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:42:56 PM PST

  •  Yes indeed (4+ / 0-)

    They clutch at that word, too, like a snapping turtle. Wresting it from them is an arduous and utterly necessary task.

    T&R

    "Every book is like a door"

    by Hammerhand on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:03:16 PM PST

  •  Reactionary right, (4+ / 0-)

    or right-wing reactionaries.

  •  Oh yeah, and kudos on your first diary. nt (4+ / 0-)

    "Every book is like a door"

    by Hammerhand on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:08:34 PM PST

  •  Agreed...... (0+ / 0-)

       I used to argue that Junior was no conservative, and my RW pals would say, well, Junior wasn't a real conservative. Whatever that is.......

    Compost for a greener planet.............got piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:23:55 PM PST

  •  Well, they're not right. I now refer to them as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver

    Cons, as in contrarians or confidence men or controllers. Their basic stance is antagonistic towards their own kind and the only reason they don't try to kill their competitors off, is because dead people can't be controlled and can't be made to work.
    The etiology of their negative stance is somewhat difficult to fathom, but I suspect it is related to being instinct-driven or impulse-driven. That is, they are people who do not initiate, but rather respond to prompts, a figurative kick in the backside. Being responsive, of course, comes AFTER a prompt. So, their orientation is backwards or to an event that is already past. This is in contrast to the self-direct or cognitive person whose behavior is forward looking in anticipating success or failure. The progressive person is a risk-taker; the reactive person goes for the sure thing, doing either what he's told or nothing.
    That the Cons are risk-takers is one of the main myths of American enterprise. Fact is that American industry and commerce have always relied on being backed up by military forces and, more recently, the rule of law to coerce and subordinate. Looked at objectively, the collapse of 2008 was a perfect storm of failed insurance policies and wholesale fraud. Money and the law let them down. Or perhaps the financiers just got too greedy and started chewing on their own people.
    After all, Lehman Brothers was carved up by people from Goldman Sachs. The Cons conning the Cons.

    It's possible that Willard saw himself as Robert Redford in "The Sting."

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:31:51 PM PST

  •  Calling them what they really are isn't wise also (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LOrion

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:35:51 PM PST

  •  Regressives, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LOrion

    or the Flying Monkey Right.

    You can't keep a mighty tree alive (much less expect it to thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at its tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the grassroots. - Jim Hightower

    by PSzymeczek on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 03:17:20 PM PST

    •  REGRESSIVES... it is.. and being tweeted that way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PSzymeczek

      RT @LiberalArmyVet: We need to stop calling Republicans "Conservatives" call them what they really are "Regressives"

      Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial,Multigender and MiddleClass

      by LOrion on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 03:18:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Mywurtz, seriously70, msmacgyver

    This is a pet peeve of mine.  The Republican Party is not conservative--- totally agree.

  •  And it's "The GOP Party" -- rhymes with "flop" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hushes

    Not only are most Republicans not "conservatives" anymore, they should not get a free pass calling us the "Democrat Party" (just what is it about the term "Democratic" that so terrifies them, anyway)?

    Those of us who go up against Republicans in debate should make it a point, if they mention the "Democrat Party", to refer to theirs as the "GOP Party."  Rhymes with flop, sop, slop, glop, etc.  

    Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

    by demdoc on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:10:02 PM PST

    •  That annoys me especially when a member (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      msmacgyver, hamjudo

      of the press says it or worse writes it.  It's the Democratic Party not the Democrat Party.  "Democrat Party" is a slur used by the Republican Party.  It's why they argue that America isn't a democracy but a republic for fear people will think the Democratic Party is somehow more American or whatever.  Notice how they never say "democracy" or "democratic" yet bastardize the name of a political party that predates their own.

      •  It is also a grammatical error which (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hamjudo, Hushes

        I point out as often as usual.  In short, a Noun cannot modify a Noun.

        When confronted with this error, the response is almost always "Duh..." with an occasional "Na-aha".  

        I believe that this started when a Southern GOPer congresscritter just got careless in a slurred, Southern Comfort kind of way and "Democrat Party" became established usage.

        An other explanation which I often run into is accusatory as in "DemocRAT"...

        It is one sure fire way to identify a Bagger/Con/RWer.

        When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

        by msmacgyver on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 08:17:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I call them Nutters and everyone seems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, a2nite

    to understand to whom I am referring.

  •  We should call them "Republicans." They're doing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, a2nite

    a great job of making themselves repulsive, so imo we should apply that to them as broadly as possible.

    Make the whole party stink.

  •  Fuck 'em... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver

    This is the scourge whose propaganda arm turned "liberal" into a dirty word over the past 30 years through false definition, outright lies and general hatred.
    Now they can suck on the seeds they've sown that the title they've worn like a badge of honor, "conservative", is synonymous with mud.
    They've already tried to abscond from being "Republicans" by hiding behind the title of Libertarian when it suited them, and when they wanted to ubiquitously their support of W; now that they've bastardized "conservative", they have nowhere else to run.

    What we need to worry about is reclaiming "liberal".
    Let them swim in their own bullshit; they've got it coming.  

    In 2013 America, "conservative" still means "batshit".

    by JustASchmuck on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 06:41:15 PM PST

    •  You are so right (0+ / 0-)

      I credit Limbaugh for the demonization of "liberal".  I also give him credit for defining "conservative".  

      I never, never confer the term "conservative" on anyone.

      On the other hand, I'm 60ish and very proud to be a life long Liberal.

      When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

      by msmacgyver on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 08:19:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reagan demonized liberals before Limbaugh (0+ / 0-)

        Actually, while Limbaugh was still in grade school, Ronald Reagan began the demonaztion of "liberals" during  his 1966 California gubernatorial campaign with his characterizations of the liberal California power structure that existed at that time, including Pat Brown, Clark Kerr, and the "permissive" administration and faculty at University of California, Berkeley.

        If UC officials had not mistakenly closed the Bancroft strip advocacy area in the fall of 1964 which led to the Free Speech Movement and associated student demonstrations at Berkeley and if the Los Angeles city management had properly handled the August 1965 incident in Watts, and thus prevented the chaos of the Watts riots, it's unlikely that Reagan could have won the 1966 California gubernatorial race by exploiting his demonization of the liberal California power structure that existed in the mid-1960s, and therefore, it's unlikely that Reagan would have ever become president of the United States.

        •  Your time-line is off and their careers (0+ / 0-)

          in liberal bashing appear to be if not parallel, symbiotic.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. snip

          Professional career

          1970s

          After dropping out of college, Limbaugh moved to McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In 1972, he became a Top 40 music disc jockey on WIXZ, a small AM radio station that reached much of the Pittsburgh area. He started with an afternoon show and later did mornings, broadcasting under the name Jeff Christie. Limbaugh moved to Pittsburgh station KQV in 1973 as the evening disc jockey, succeeding Jim Quinn. He was fired in late-1974, when the station was sold to Taft Broadcasting. Limbaugh was reportedly told by management that he would never make it as on air talent, and should consider going into sales.[5] Unable to find another job in local radio, Limbaugh moved back home to Cape Girardeau. He became a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers from his time in the region.[11][12][13]

          For the rest of the decade Limbaugh took jobs at several radio stations, working in music radio, before settling in Kansas City. In 1979, he left radio and accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. snip

          1980s

          In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California, where he replaced Morton Downey, Jr.[5] The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine—which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast—by the FCC in 1987 meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views. Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 ... and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination."

          When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

          by msmacgyver on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 10:44:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not Sure How My Timeline is Off (0+ / 0-)

            I believe that Limbaugh was in high school (grade school is K-12) in 1966, when Reagan was running for governor of California and basing liberals. As far as I remember Limbaugh did not start his political talk radio and liberal bashing until sometime in the mid-1980s, some twenty years after Reagan's liberal bashing during his first California gubernatorial campaign in 1966.

            As a California and a Berkeley native I'm very well versed in Reagan's political timeline, and his demonization of liberals,

            •  I am not nit picking (0+ / 0-)

              Your assessment of Reagan is correct but his liberal bashing would not have had the national audience that Limbaugh did and still does.

              Reagan's persona as President was different than his hard ass one as Governor of Ca.

              Limbaugh was influenced by Reagan's anti-liberal message, of that there is no doubt.

              When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

              by msmacgyver on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 05:18:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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