Daphne White in Berkeleyside:
George Lakoff, retired UC Berkeley professor and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant, is one of a very few people in Berkeley who does not underestimate Donald Trump. “Trump is not stupid,” he tells anyone who will listen. “He is a super salesman, and he knows how to change your brain and use it to his advantage.”
In fact, Lakoff predicted a year ago that Trump would win with 47% of the vote. (The actual total was 46%.) Lakoff even told Hillary Clinton’s campaign and PAC staffers how to counteract Trump’s message. But they couldn’t hear him.
As far back as 2006, Lakoff saw the writing on the wall. “A dark cloud of authoritarianism looms over the nation,” he wrote in his book Thinking Points, A Progressive’s Handbook. ”Radical conservatives have taken over the reins of government and have been controlling the terms of the political debate for many years.” The progressives couldn’t hear him, either.
Lakoff’s message is simple, but it is couched in the language of cognitive linguistics and neuroscience. The problem is that political candidates rely on pollsters and PR people, not linguists or neuroscientists. So when Lakoff repeatedly says that “voters don’t vote their self-interest, they vote their values,” progressive politicians continually ignore him. His ideas don’t fit in with their worldview, so they can’t hear him.