Summary of The All New Don't Think of an Elephant!

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The All New Don't Think of an Elephant! book summary


9 Overall

9 Importance

8 Innovation

9 Style


Linguist George Lakoff urges his fellow progressives to study the conservative playbook on how to frame an issue and use it for their purposes. Conservatives have framed a variety of issues, from taxes to military spending to global warming. Lakoff argues that liberals make a mistake when they argue using facts because facts don’t matter if they run counter to a voter’s belief system. Lakoff’s book first came out in 2004 – the peak of the George W. Bush years. This 2014 version precedes the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the fall of Hillary Clinton, who clearly didn’t master the art of framing. Lakoff’s premise holds: Trump and Sanders seemed to be reading directly from his playbook; Clinton campaigned as if she had never heard of framing. Lakoff’s detailed, tactical teachings on framing speak to liberals, but conservatives also will find them instructive. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to frame an issue persuasively,
  • Why conservatives have been so successful at framing, and
  • How liberals can best use framing.

About the Author

Linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff teaches at the University of California at Berkeley. His political books include The Political Mind, Moral Politics and Thinking Points.



Start with a Frame

The person who controls the frame controls the debate. In modern politics, success stems from knowing how to frame in issue. Framing means creating a mental scaffolding that shapes how people perceive the world.

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