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Advocating Social, Economic, & Environmental Reforms

Are there a moral politics; and if there are, What is a moral citizen?

"facts are all important."

p. 109.




√ agency capture

√ entail

“The most common questions.”

p. 96.

Gender matters when it comes to how we see ecological problems and their remedies. Consider farm workers.

"The nation as a family metaphor."

p. 96-97.

This of course is completely inadequate....

George Lakoff, Don't Think of an Elephant.

George Lakoff, The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist"s Guide to your Brain and Politics.

Siry interpretation

strict versus permissive does not allow for the grey "in between areas" where complexity, irony and --perhaps-- true creativity may thrive.

The origins of these concepts.


"Conservatives...seem ignorant of the vast difference between responsibility and permissiveness."

p. 97.

How old are the ideas?

Some originate in the Protestant Reformation's challenge to the Roman church:

matters of faith

Lakoff's argument    
nurture   stern
Reformation politics    

Quakers Lollards
  guardians   divine right
equality participatory
current politics      
Blue States         Red States

The Protestant Reformation splintered the concept of authority, undermined the sources of revelation, and withdrew the economic foundations of ecclesiastical authority which led to European civil wars and retribution of one sect against another in often bloody and gruesome battles.

The outcomes were varied but the shock to the public in terms of faith and the undermining of patriarchy were enduring products of the Reformation.

The family and the role of parents underwent a decided change as is indicated by the Puritans who viewed men and women as equal souls in the eyes of God.

Commentary on Lakoff.


p. 97.

In a sense Lakoff is asking: do stern fathers lie or betray their trust in the family and still maintain their authority?

p. 98

Both models of parenting exist side by side and related to circumstances and altered conditions of the family and the endogenous or exogenous threats that are perceived to be real or potentially real.

  1. endogenous threats arise from within the family, such as: sibling rivalry, incest, abuse.
  2. exogenous threats are imposed externally on the family from say schools, media, police, courts or even religious institutions


"Fourth, there are three natural dimensions of variation for applying the given model: an ideological / pragmatic dimension, a radical / moderate dimension, and a means / ends dimension."

p. 98

“Incidentally, the word conservative is not necessarily about conserving anything. It is about strict father morality.”

"a moderate can be either progressive or conservative."

"we could perfectly well use wedge issues."

p. 101

"Another common variation occurs in distinguishing ends and means."

strict means to a nurturing ends

A moral citizen is one who has the imagination to comprehend the complexity of the obligation to be guided by conscience. That is so the means and ends are always held in some balance to promote human benefit, or the good (in an Aristotelian sense)..

The ends cannot justify the means, to a morally imaginative and ethically responsible person --that person in a civic contest-- is a citizen with obligations and privileges.

The duties and obligations of a civic person are the means to assure a common goal of a polite society.

What do organizations do?

A Suggested origins of contemporary Left-wing ideology in contemporary America:

  Social Gospel radical   liberal fiscal cons enviros
balanced budget
Child labor reform
no death penalty
craft unions

Left wing is a coalition held together by the "a nurturing parent " attitude about the reality of inequality, competitive exclusion, and venality in social life.

P. 88.

see more on ideology

The Social Gospel of the nineteenth century was --as Methodism had been in the 18th century-- a reform tradition based on the recognition by Protestant and Catholic religions that the least fortunate in society must be ministered to, and not merely the souls of aristocrats.

The social gospel movement redefined and broadened the concepts of sanctified service and divine inspiration.

God in a natural evolutionary unfolding of the mystery of life.

Moral obedience to serving others to better serve God

Christian moral hegemony is tempered by redemption and salvation

Reframe–to frame a story again in a new more effective manner commensurate with changes in the ability of the audience.

“Is reframing manipulative?

Reframing is about ideas"

Take the idea of the commons--that is the common inheritances of all humanity."

    1. the atmosphere
    2. the electromagnetic spectrum (bandwidth)

p. 105.

"Yet the idea of a common inheritance and of using it for the public good is not yet part of the frame structure that most people use everyday."

The reference will not be readily understood.



Is religion inherently conservative?

clarifying our terms:

Conservative from conserve meaning to keep from harm, loss, or decay. noun. Law, "a term implying that reasonable but circumscribed steps are taken by a self-reliant people in order to protect the common estate, defend the moral foundations that foster social order, and invest in institutions to promote families as the security needed for continuity in society which is undergoing change.

By that, I mean: "progressive values are traditional American values."

George Lakoff, Don't Think of an Elephant, pp. 89-118.

Conservatism ---- represents a tradition of thinking about fundamental relationships.


Message, staying focused on a point in advocating a position.

Bowers, Mindful Conservatism.

"Biological and cultural processes are inherently conserving in nature."

p. 8.

"balance the well-being of the individual with the good of the community."

p. 8

"Reforms should be based on the experience of the community."

p. 9

"...change must be viewed as part of a contract that the current generation has with past and future generations."

"Carrying out this contract . . .'becomes a partnership between those who are living and those who are dead and those who are yet to be born."

"that the past is a living part of the traditions reenacted by the current generation."

p. 10

"the order which inheres in things rather than to impose order on them."

R. I. White, quoted on p. 11.

Mindful Conservatism. pp. 6-12.

Other related pages.


"Our goal is to unite our country behind our values, traditional American values."


Interest Group politics and persuasion must be understood to do that:

Institutional structure is three sided.

The iron triangle of "cozy" interests in government is an essentially conservative relationship among two conservative participants in the process: Congress which is able to thwart institutional change and the agencies of the bureaucracy, that by their character try to retain power over programs in order to force congress to serve constituency needs as the agency defines those needs.

Agencies act in the public's interest, allegedly.

Compass and the Gyroscope, Kai Lee

Culture and Imperialism, Eric Said, defines culture

Carter, President's comments on the Nobel Peace Prize

Bush Administration, Robert F. Kennedy's critique of crony capitalism

Crimes Against Nature, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Agency Capture is a feature of this system, despite an alleged system of checks and balances.

An example of this power of agencies, and even Congress, to thwart institutional reforms occurred historically when the AEC, or Atomic Energy Commission was allegedly reformulated and renamed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which was designed to monitor, set standards and otherwise regulate the use of atomic power for the generation of electricity from fissionable materials. Instead, the NRC like its predecessor, the AEC, sought to promote nuclear power and not merely protect the public from exposure to radiation.

The tension here is among the traditional values of:

  • promoting inventive spirit and technical virtuosity
  • protecting the public health and social welfare
  • government support for internal improvements
  • promoting affordable energy to the widest number of users


salt marshSovereign lands are those regions covered by water and the tide. These submerged lands are public property and encompass common property resources such as water, air, wildlife and fisheries. Legally they give rise to the public trust doctrine for the protection of "in stream flows" or sufficient water flow to protect fisheries which belong to the public. Wildlife and birds depend on these fisheries so that the public trust doctrine assures the healthy functioning of the physical system that sustains the biological wealth of these commons.

public trust

Sovereign lands are an example of

  1. a basic tradition, originating in ancient Roman law,
  2. an old constitutional guarantee, and
  3. an example that reveals the lasting value of entail.
  4. sovereign meaning owned by the states are lands that are held in trust for public access and use, they cannot be privately owned.

Tidelands are those features of the terrain frequently and infrequently submerged by the tides over the course of a year. Thus from below the mean high tide to the three or ten mile limit off shore, these tidelands, belong to the sovereign. Once belonging to the Crown, sovereign lands after the revolution (1776-1783) -- in the US, the states inherited the sovereignty once held by Kings and Queens.


The Commons, characteristics of the public commons that still needs to be framed is how the idea of public waters and even common lands can be extended to the air.

public trust

The traditional origin of the concept of commons is related to the Medieval concept of Entail: meaning "to restrict the inheritance of land to a specific group of heirs" or a limited class of descendants.

ENTAIL entail

in law, restriction of inheritance to a limited class of descendants for at least several generations. The object of entail is to preserve large estates in land from the disintegration that is caused by equal inheritance by all the heirs and by the ordinary right of free alienation (disposal) of property interests.

Sovereign lands are just one example of common property and the legal character of these lands is that they are restricted with respect to their inheritance, they must remain a public trust..

In terms of tradition, entail was ended in the United States, but "legal devices similar to entail were known in Roman law and in all the countries of Europe. In England the entail became common in the early 13th cent., and in its most usual form was a conveyance by a grantor (owner) of real property to a grantee and the "heirs of his body," i.e., his lawful offspring, in successive generations."


Always be polite

"Our job is to evoke and maintain a nurturant model."

  • "Show respect"
      • "In your hands my dissatisfied fellow countrymen...,"AL, 1860.
  • "Respond by reassuring"
      • "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." FDR, 1933.
  • "Think and talk at the level of values"
      • "We hold these truths to be self evident..." TJ, 1776.
  • "Say what you believe"
      • "All people are created equal ..." Seneca Falls declaration

p. 119.

Message, staying focused on a point in advocating a position.


George Lakoff, The Political Mind.

..................., Don't Think of an Elephant.

Bordwell & Thompson, Film Art.

Martin Kemp, Visualizations.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others.

David Orr, Ecological Literacy.

Garrett Hardin, Living Within Limits.

William Greider, Come Home America.

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost.


Carter, President's comments on the Nobel Peace Prize

Global Warming defined and index for climate change pages.

October-November: redraft of talking points, or summary due.

pp. 115-173. Sovereign lands, the public trust & global commons.

Mindful Conservatism. 7-114.