Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision

ISBN: 0374530904
ISBN 13: 9780374530907
By: George Lakoff Rockridge Institute

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Reader's Thoughts


This is the book every progressive activist or Democratic candidate should read in order to understand how to frame their message.


If you are at all interested in either political messaging or marketing communications (which are actually the same things) you will find this book fascinating. Lakoff is a linguist who may be best known for his book, Metaphors We Live By. The focus of Thinking Points is his exploration of how political discourse can best be understood, and more effectively practiced, by understanding the frames out of which it arises. Frames, as defined by Lakoff, are the mental structures, the reality maps, which we all unconsciously utilize to create a coherent mental picture of how the world is structured. Lakoff's contribution in this book is in applying the framing hypothesis to the analysis of progressive and conservative policies and the language used to articulate them. He wrote this book in 2006 and was remarkably prescient in anticipating the ways in which the Democrats would need to change their message in order regain political ascendancy.


This is a very important book for understanding the reasons why politicians have difficult creating counterargument. For anyone who is frustrated with why the Democratic Party has been unable to come up with a response, read this!

Missy Meegan

An excellent book on political framing and a must read for any Progressive looking for ways to effectively communicate our ideas while effectively dispelling conservative myths. The Rockridge Institute's ( which funded this book) website is an excellent resource for additional information.


slick justification of progressive taxation:"The common wealth has been used to build highways, develop the Internet and the satellite system, uphold the banking system, regulate the stock market, and support the court system, which guarantees contracts. No business functioning in the market could exist without massive use of the common wealth. It is crucial to the existence and flourishing of markets. And those who benefit from markets have a moral obligation to replenish the common wealth."

Stephie Jane Rexroth

Must read. Every argument, issue and policy can be boiled down to two cognitive frames: the strict (authoritarian) father frame for conservatives and the nurturant-parent frame for progressives. This book in particular explored "bi-conceptualism"... instead of being in-the-middle, independent or moderate, people have a mix of conservative and progressive moral systems as applied to specific issues/policies. Many pointers and plenty of examples for not arguing against conservative frames, which ineffectively reinforces them... use frames that reflect your own progressive values: empathy and responsibility. Doing so establishes unique progressive identity and authenticity... instead of being the anti-[add conservative topic here].Eye-opening, helpful and practical.


Replacement of Liberal with Progressive. Patriarchal paternalism vs messy community decision making. Liberals will always be on the defensive regardless of name.


A very clear look at the use of language in politics.

Joel Duff

The ideas behind this are great but it reads poorly and becomes more tedious as it progresses. Sometimes team writing produces the least engaging books. That being said, progressives cannot afford to miss this message about speaking to values.


An exceptional text on political framing. The text is concise and easy to read while not skimping on details. Lakoff's work will be shown in the future to be one of the central reasons why the progressive movement didn't die.


I am the co-founder of the Empathy Surplus Project, Wilmington, OH. My co-founder, Gary Evans, life long Republican, and I, life long Democrat believe empathy and responsibility for self and others belongs in public governance. We use this book as a basic resource in the chartering of Caring Citizens' Chapters. We can discuss this book on social media. To find our schedule of readings go to


Taking our country back from the ultra-right wing conservatives who have dominated it for far too long isn't going to be easy. We've actually got to start communicating on a whole different level, abandoning our "just the facts" approach to persuading voters. Lakoff explains why it isn't enough to simply present strong evidence of a failing economy, a disastrous foreign policy, or an unjust social system. He helps make sense of the seeming paradox of voters who vote against their own self-interest, consistently putting into office the politicians whose policies are destroying their chances for a better life. Contrary to popular opinion, the people who voted to re-elect Bush aren't stupid or uninformed - they are simply working with a different internal framework, a "father-knows-best" way of seeing the world, which the conservatives have become experts at manipulating. Progressives need to change their approach - and soon - if there's to be any hope of changing the direction of our country. This book is a good place to start.


Great way to learn to frame issues progressively! How to argue using progressive values.

Kristy Powell

This was a great find about how progressives can identify and communicate our values and morals. Conservatives essentially have the "market" on being the party associated with morals and values, so how do progressives take it back? I found this to be not only helpful (to help me communicate those values in an intelligent way to conservative friends), but also eye-opening about some of the core differences between the parties, and solidified why I am progressive.


For someone interesting in the power of words, it has a compelling look at political speech relating to the most crucial issues of today.

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