We're being framed!
This article, written by George Lakoff, a cognitive scientist in Berkley, describes how the conservatives are winning the political debate in America by associating their policies to certain favorable frames of reference. An example:
On the day that George W. Bush took office, the words "tax relief" started appearing in White House communiqués. Think for a minute about the word relief. In order for there to be relief, there has to be a blameless, afflicted person with whom we identify and whose affliction has been imposed by some external cause. Relief is the taking away of the pain or harm, thanks to some reliever.
This is an example of what cognitive linguists call a "frame." It is a mental structure that we use in thinking. All words are defined relative to frames. The relief frame is an instance of a more general rescue scenario in which there is a hero (the reliever), a victim (the afflicted), a crime (the affliction), a villain (the cause of affliction) and a rescue (the relief). The hero is inherently good, the villain is evil and the victim after the rescue owes gratitude to the hero.
The author goes on describing the two world views that Democrats and Republicans have, and how the type of language they use affect those views.
Although the author focuses in the later parts of the essay on preaching the Democrats on how to frame the debate into their own advantage (a good one: describe taxes as "the price of civilization"), it is still a very readable and insightful essay to read. In fact its a must read for any writer, activist, or person who doesn't want to get framed!