June 19, 2012

"The Democratic Party has a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it."

Says Robert Redford. Ironically, he is telling the story that Democrats keep telling: that they have a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it.

I don't think that is a good story. If only we were better propagandists! It's the soothing, mind-numbing story that George Lakoff has been telling them for years.

57 comments:

Scott M said...

The story, apparently, is that democracy means we all need to care for one another. Somehow, human nature, that massive flaw most people have integral to their very being, just keeps getting in the way. The only system that will be successful in the long run is the system that not only identifies, but embraces human nature.

If only such a system existed...

Patrick said...

I apparently lack permission to view Mr. Lackoff's page, which I suppose is emblematic of the Democrats' problems.

Sorun said...

Me too.

ErnieG said...

“The Democratic Party has a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it."

And if the little frog didn't have his legs set so far back, he wouldn't bump his ass every time he jumps.

Bertram Wooster said...

I'm not worthy either.

Mark O said...

Oh, goody. Another "story," like Obama's book. Redford is great at storytelling. Fiction.

Sorun said...

I agree with Redford on the presentation problem. For example, I wouldn't listen to a wrinkled old man who dyes his hair orange.

Matthew Sablan said...

That sounds like the loser's lament: "Gee whiz. She'd've picked me if she only knew how swell I was."

dreams said...

Actors are like children, all I want from them is to read their lines and act.

Ron said...

I've been hearing that blah blah blah since Robert Redford looked more like Justin Bieber than the Jack Palance he looks like today....

If you can't tell your story within, oh, say, 70 years.....you have no story.

edutcher said...

Considering how his last flick did, what he might consider a good story and the best way to tell it doesn't jibe with the rest of the country.

TomB said...

Exactly. The so-called "Narrative" that we keep hearing about. Don't tell us a story to convince us, tell us your positions on the damn issues!

Chip S. said...

I heard a story once - as a matter of fact, I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of Chris Matthews sobbing on the air. "Mister, I met a man once when I was a kid," it always began.

"His name was Marcuse. Or was it Hayden? Er...Alinsky? Or maybe it was Roosevelt. I can't remember. It's all so long ago now."

Sorun said...

The problem Dem environmentalists have is that the Dem agenda comes as a package deal. If you want to protect old growth Redwoods, you also have to support labor unions and affirmative action, and oppose nuclear power.

A fundamental tenet of Dem special interests is that they unquestionably support each other. Environmentalism is no more important than any other special interest. That hurts the environmental message.

Ron said...

of all the blogs in all the world, Chip had to walk into thine!

gerry said...

...at least people who have any sense at all can see, ‘This is what we’re getting? This is what we’re going to get if we elect somebody from that mob?

Egad, Redford has hit upon the central reason for Democrat failure!

Chip S. said...

Here's looking at you, Ron.

Paddy O said...

What do Democrats have? I think they have a great concept. A good pitch. People should help other people, and that's what government should be about too. Lovely. It brings up caring sounding topics like helping the poor, and no wars, and equality. Those are good concepts.

The trouble is that concept alone doesn't make a good story. For the most part, they don't have appealing characters. Obama was a huge attempt, but didn't actually reflect who people suggested he was. Who else? Reid? Pelosi? So many others. Gore? There's not really a genuinely likable person in the bunch anymore. Edwards really went for the "Gee, I'm likable" part, but showed who he really is.

So, the characters suck. How about plot? You need a good plot to make a good story. Democrats have been in charge of the plot here in California since the 1990s. Democrats, for a while, had control of Congress and the Presidency. We got a stimulus and Obamacare. How's that plot worked out? It hasn't.

The trouble is that like an aging movie star who used to make blockbuster movies with blockbuster box office receipts, the same old story is played out.

It's not a good story at all.

They're promoting Battleship when everyone really wants to go see The Avengers.

roesch/voltaire said...

In one sense this is reaction to Frank Luntz who has been the master of helping the Republicans frame their talking points; one only has to read his memo on how to package the Republican's defense of the one percent: "don't say capitalism, say that the government takes from the rich, not taxes, don't say middle class, use hard workers instead, etc, to get an idea of how effective he has been. So Redford and Lakoff recognize the power of this simple repetition. Romney spins distortions on a daily bases, but because he repeats them so often they become part of the Republican story, let;s not call it propaganda. For example easier to say Public education has failed, rather than look at how it has helped build a strong middle class, but now has failed to keep pace with the skills needed in an advanced economy, which has little to do teacher's unions and more to do with budget cuts, and low salaries that do not attract enough top math and science teachers into education.

Scott said...

Is Redford wearing a wig?

If and when conservatives and libertarians start governing most of the country, are all of these smug progressives who profess fear at the rule of the right-wing mob going to change their minds when the quality of life of the average American starts getting... better?

(If you're in midtown Manhattan today and you want to do lunch, send me an email via my profile link.)

Matthew Sablan said...

"For example easier to say Public education has failed, rather than look at how it has helped build a strong middle class, but now has failed to keep pace with the skills needed in an advanced economy,"

-- Like basic literacy and math?

Matthew Sablan said...

"In one sense this is reaction to Frank Luntz who has been the master of helping the Republicans frame their talking points; one only has to read his memo on how to package the Republican's defense of the one percent,"

-- It's like you need a constant stream of boogeymen. Simply saying "defense of the one percent" is a perfect example. Of course Romney should not say capitalism; he is also not just focused on the government taking from the rich. It is the middle class who he primarily is trying to protect -- even Clinton knows the taxman is coming for them soon. Why should we use middle class to describe all people working? Do you think the poor don't work hard?

ricpic said...

The story is, get the producers. It's an easy story to sell to the parasites and the trust funders. But how do you sell get the producers to the producers? It's a helluva problem for the radical socialist party.

Dan in Philly said...

I understand where he is coming from. Not trying to shoot fish in a barrel here - just recognize that the reason he sees a story that he recognizes cannot be told is it really takes a lifetime of training one's mind to accept the reality he sees quite clearly, and he seems to be aware enough to know that most do not have this lifetime of training.

Consider the idea of someone who believes that all actions are controlled by green martians. If heavily invested in this idea, if one spends a lifetime developing it and charting how they control us and why, I bet you would have many stories to tell about the profundity of your conception. But you must be aware that in order for others to believe your story, they have to accept many, many assumptions and work through the implications of those assumptions in order to fully understand how brilliant the whole idea is.

Most people are too busy living their lives to bother training their minds to accept such improbabilities, but the rich and largely idle elite, and those celebrities who are fond of sucking up to them, have the time and inclination to do so. It becomes almost a masonic handshake - if you spout the correct things and believe the correct things, it's a sign you have considered all these ideas and accepted them, which shows your intelligence and the very fact that so few others also understand just enhances the prestige of your comprehension.

Bottom line is human nature never, never, never changes.

Matthew Sablan said...

Well, capitalism, in the sense you want him to, which is that it is the root of all evil. In fact, Romney mentions capitalism in intellectually honest ways frequently. He shows the benefits that capitalism provides. So, if he's being told to never mention it, he's failing. Rather, he's not putting up a strawman that capitalism is an oppressive jackboot on the poor.

Dave said...

This illustrates the condescension of the left. You'll only get it we explain it to you properly. We get the message just fine - which is why we reject it.

PatCA said...

Mr. Redford, you and the Dems have been telling your story for 40 years! In the movies. In novels. In advertising. All the liberal pieties -- multiculturalism, enviromentalism, moral relativism -- have all dressed up and had their hour upon the stage.

We recognize now it was all sound and fury, signifying not much. We know your message, we just don't like it.

Sorun said...

..low salaries that do not attract enough top math and science teachers into education.

Dumbass, where are these "top" teachers teaching if not in education?

We don't need top mathematicians and scientists in education. It's a waste of their abilities. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to be a good high school algebra teacher.

Michael K said...

"A fundamental tenet of Dem special interests is that they unquestionably support each other. "

This an increasing problem for the Democrats. Once the special interests that make up the base figure out that their agendas are contradictory, the paryy is over. That is the message of Jay Cost's book.

Ken said...

The democrats story:

-we supported slavery and started a civil war over to keep in legal
-when we lost, we enacted Jim Crow
-when black started entering the work force, after Jim Crow, we supported white unions to keep wages high, keeping blacks out of the work force (Bacon-Davis Act)
-we enacted forced sterilization and when that went sour, we pushed the killing of babies as "women's rights"
-after witnessing Hoover destroy the economy through an activist, spendthrift government we doubled down on his idiotic policies, extending the Great Depression
-through our admiration of Mussolini, Stalin, Hilter, and Mao, we stood by and actively cheered for their truly evil governments, until it became too obvious that we were wrong about everything; of course, we still defend Stalin and Mao
-cheering on the workers paradise of Hitler and Mussolini started WWII
-we started wars in Korea and Viet Nam, but didn't have the fortitude to see them through, despite overwhelming military victories throughout both wars
-we've pushed through an aggressively liberal agenda the last 6 years and the economy has tanked and involved ourselves in several more wars
-we support public unions, forcing taxpayers to work well past 65, all so public "servants" can retire in their 50's and sometimes 40's

Yeah, the problem with democrats is messaging, not the message.

Christopher in MA said...

One gets the idea that R-V once read The Selling of the President and never got over it.

ndspinelli said...

Dems have the best storytellers in the world, Hollywood and all the authors on Martha's Vineyard. The story just won't sell!

JL said...

When your story is "It's Bush's fault + Republicans are evil racists", there are only so many ways to tell that. Apparently the Dems believe it's best told by some enraged, dirty, borderline psychotic with multiple face piercings holding a sign that talks about eating the rich, standing next to an indignant tattooed middle-aged woman in pigtails blowing her vuvuzela.

With an electorate population of older folks whose net worth's are declining rapidly as their life's savings and investments lose value, and younger folks who are losing hope for a better life than their parents, it's a real head-scratcher as to why the simple story of the Democrats, as told by their zealous supporters, is not working like it did in 2008...

n.n said...

They don't have a good story. They denigrate individual dignity and devalue human life. Ironically, but not surprisingly, there is a progressive scale where individual supporters fall.

They appeal to individuals who dream of instant gratification principally through redistributive and retributive change. They conduct their campaigns through extortion of human emotions and pandering to selfish interests.

The problem lies with generational progressives and liberals with the aforementioned dreams. Whereas this corruption is exceptional in the general population, for those who embrace their philosophy it is foundational.

Supporters willing and permissively elect to exchange liberty for submission with benefits.

cassandra lite said...

How perfectly appropriate of Redford to say this. After all, he starred as The Candidate, who ran (and was elected) on the slogan, "There must be a better way."

He of course didn't actually have a better way, as we would've learned if there had ever been a honest sequel made.

roesch/voltaire said...

Sorun in case you hadn't noticed other countries teach calculus in high school, which is why the Asian students who attend our universities skip the introductory courses that students from northern Wisconsin need to take because that level was not offered in their schools- And yes of late, I hear students who are strong in math and science say they might want to go back and teach in their high schools, but the wages are low and it seems educators get little respect.

Jay said...

Wait, so the greatest Orator since Lincoln can't tell the great story?

Funny, huh?

Scott M said...

Sorun in case you hadn't noticed other countries teach calculus in high school, which is why the Asian students who attend our universities skip the introductory courses that students from northern Wisconsin need to take because that level was not offered in their schools

Are you saying that calculus is not offered at the high school level in the Wisconsin public schools? I would literally be shocked if that were the case. I went through a Cook Country (Chicago) school system school and we not only had Calc I and Calc II, but CLEP-level calc that counted for college credit. This was 84-88.

sonicfrog said...

“The Democratic Party has a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it.

Which is really ironic, since the Democrat party is full of people who are the best story tellers the world has ever seen - actors, directors, songsters, artists, poets authors and the like.

Chip Ahoy said...

Robert Redford, devoid of irony, said what Democrats always say.

Sorun said...

Sorun in case you hadn't noticed other countries teach calculus in high school...

So do high schools in the US. Maybe not every single one, but then I doubt every high school in Asia teaches it.

And you don't have to be rocket scientist to teach basic calculus.

JL said...

“The Democratic Party has a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it.

Which is really ironic, since the Democrat party is full of people who are the best story tellers the world has ever seen - actors, directors, songsters, artists, poets authors and the like.



True. But that is their problem; these are people who spend the bulk of their adult lives playing make believe, and live in a fantasy-land called Hollywood. They are good at making up stories. The best story they tell is the one to themselves, that they could solve the world's problems if only the evil Republicans with their evil corporate money weren't outspending them.

tolkein said...

Like the Labour Party in the UK (of which I'm a member) the Democrats do have a good story. But a lot of their activits are green Bolsheviks in disguise and they'd rather focus on issues that mean a lot to them rather than their supporters. Same issue in the UK. New Labour was the response by the cenre-right and sensible left to these issues. Activists largely hated it, but Blair won 3 elections in a row on the back of it. Labour Party members and supporters (not the activists) were quite happy with New Labour. Ditto in the US. Clinton did perfectly well after 1994 and a Democrat Party that cared about its actual supporters, not the neo-Bolsheviks in the likes of the Nation, could design policies that its supporters would vote for. It's just that Bush allowed the activists to become self indulgent, rigging the primaries and caucuses to give the nomination to Obama over Clinton. From where I was, it was clear that any Democrat would win, which was why the activists went for the Left-er of the two candidates.

When they lose in November, hopefully they'll remember that they need blue-dog Democrats to win elections and craft policies to help them do so. When that day comes, they'll find they do have a good story. They'll just have to get rid of the story the activists would like to tell.

bgates said...

For example easier to say Public education has failed

...than to find a 10th grade public school student in a heavily Democratic district who can spell the phrase "public education has failed", or to find a progressive commenter who understands English rules for capitalization.

Tibore said...

"... they have a good story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it.

They once told me that I was voting against my own self interests. I don't know how that story is "good", but I sure as hell know it was condescending.

ken in sc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ken in sc said...

Teaching would be a good second career for many accomplished professionals if the public schools were not so chaotic and out of control, plus most school administrators being such jackasses. My nine years of teaching were the most stressful times of my life.

Sofa King said...

Actually the #1 barrier that prevents interested and motivated parties from taking up teaching is the voluminous and often arbitrary licensing and development requirements just to set foot in a classroom, largely instituted at the behest of...guess who?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't want a good 'story' or (as Clinton stated) a big fairy tale.

I want the truth. And..... I CAN handle the truth. I want real answers and concrete plans.

Save your fairy tales and stories for putting your kids to bed. We are adults and expect to be treated like adults.

elkh1 said...

The problem is, like MSNBC, they edit out inconvenient facts to tell a story. They forgot Al Gore's internet makes it possible for the people to bypass the dinosaur gatekeepers to get to unedited facts.

Yes, they can keep telling their stories, but the American people laugh at them as jokes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

.."than to find a 10th grade public school student in a heavily Democratic district who can spell the phrase "public education has failed", or to find a progressive commenter who understands English rules for capitalization."

Ooooh. Ha ha ha. Body slam

Rusty said...

If it was a "good story" they wouldn't have any trouble telling it.
it is, therefore, not a good story.

Blue@9 said...

For example easier to say Public education has failed, rather than look at how it has helped build a strong middle class, but now has failed to keep pace with the skills needed in an advanced economy


My car did NOT break down! It helped transport me many miles, over the course of many months, but it failed to stay in good working condition.

viator said...

The Dems need Goebbels and Lenin. They were a lot better at this than MSNBC.

Revenant said...

It may be a good story. The problem is that they've been telling it for over a hundred years now. Everybody's heard it already.

Revenant said...

For example easier to say Public education has failed, rather than look at how it has helped build a strong middle class

It is easy to say America spends too much on wars and defense, rather than look at how we saved Europe and Asia during the Second World War.

Honestly, if a huge chunk of state and local government spending is going to a program and the best you can say in support of it is "it played a vital role three or four generations ago"... that's not good.

Tim said...

"...but the wages are low and it seems educators get little respect."

Closed, union shop schools; union-supported curricula; union-opposed reforms; teacher unions comprise the largest cohort of the Democrat party base.

Yep. It's a complete mystery why educators get little respect. It's impossible to figure out.

Can anyone help me out?