George Lakoff's work, in linguistics and cognitive science, is of utmost importance for anyone concerned about the current direction of political discourse in this country. Following up on some of his earlier books that tackled the expert and self-serving use of language and framing by neoconservatives, here Lakoff examines all of the inherent nuances and meanings in America's most important and overused tradition. Here we learn that freedom is an intensely complex concept with a core meaning that everyone can agree on, but for which the details can be abused by anyone to further their political agenda while easily deflecting criticism. Lakoff provides plenty of evidence that America's long tradition of progressive freedom has been hijacked and distorted by ideologues who can't stop using that word to justify their very same misuse of it. One of Lakoff's most winning insights is that the current administration uses the word "freedom" so thickly because they know that what they're promoting wouldn't be called freedom if one looked at longstanding American tradition.
Another strong insight, which also runs through many of Lakoff's other books, is that progressives have failed miserably in framing their interests as well as the Far Right has, and are forced to play catch-up with disingenuous neocon doublespeak like "tax relief" or "family values." Even "liberty," "democracy," and "patriotism" have been hijacked, with progressives falling flat in attempts to discuss obvious facts, when what they really need to do is frame concepts that will work with an electorate possessing a fleeting attention span. But while this book offers some stunning high-level wisdom for the freethinking American, in a quite strange way it's also built upon a pretty simplistic view of real world ideologies. Lakoff constructs not just progressivism and conservatism, but also everything from environmentalism to libertarianism, with series of reductive stereotypes. In short, a flimsy analysis somehow still leads to groundbreaking conclusions. Also, Lakoff's writing style is excessively repetitive. But in the end, the true value of this book is that it will help you decode whether power players really have your best interests at heart when they force the word "freedom" down your throat fifty times in every speech, or if they're just talking about the freedom to sustain their own economic and political power. [~doomsdayer520~]