Daily Dose: What's in a name? Power...and we have the power to re-brand

August 31, 2017


In yesterday's "Daily Dose", I provided insights on how to use progressive values to expose the truth about the current occupant of the White House. Based on his words and actions, it shouldn't be too hard to get people to see where their values (based on empathy) don't align with DT - especially when his words and actions are so devoid of authentic empathy. Most important is that when people don't feel their values are reflected in an elected official, they begin to be more receptive to seeing where the betrayals of trust are occurring. 


There is more to this type of strategy, so I thought it would be good to continue a discussion of undermining DT (you already know his name - we need to "re-frame" it).


An important part of this undermining process based on values is to empower people to see through the propaganda, to view the truth. Once people accept the new "frame" or worldview on an issue, it becomes easier for them to see what they previously could not. This is a cognitive effect - as we have seen a great deal recently, people will reject any facts that do not support their dominant (in most cases conservative) worldview. Change the frame (worldview), increase people's cognitive ability to accept new facts.


So, in the case of DT, we can help people to see the truth about his values (based on authoritarian self-interest and greed) when we show that his actions are not consistent with most of our values - to care for other people and our communities.


Back in June, George Lakoff penned a great blog that builds on this idea of reinforcing our progressive values while undermining DT and his authoritarian, self-interest worldview. In "Disaster Branding", Lakoff connects the power of naming and branding with framing and evoking our progressive values. It's a brilliant tactic, since it uses one of DT's own strengths against him! From the blog:


"...we need not feel powerless in the face of the Trump government. The citizens of the United States have a power beyond the ballot box: the power of naming, and of disaster branding. Acting together, we can give a brand name to all those major fires, storms, floods, and droughts perpetuated and caused by Mr. Trump’s actions against the worldwide effort to end those disasters. Name the major disasters after the person most responsible for perpetuating and causing new ones in the future."


To build on what Lakoff wrote several months ago, this undermining tactic will have the cognitive effect of CHANGING how people perceive the "Trump" brand. It will literally change how people's brains respond to the name. Why? Because we can change the frame. Instead of having the "Trump" name reinforce a strong authoritarian worldview, we can have it effectively show how it betrays the values most of us live by - based on empathy.


We can brand extreme weather events caused by global climate change a "Trump flood", or a "Trump drought". We can start branding sociopathic, greedy behavior that hurts people and their communities with the "Trump" name. 


In this way, we take away what DT himself wants his brand to be, and we can show people the truth about the "brand" based on caring for others. As Lakoff concluded:


"You just have to say the words. There is power in naming."


Especially when it is repeated and tells the truth about our values.

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