Moving Austin Forward
On Saturday, Moving Austin Forward
hosted an event at St. Edward’s on Saturday designed to bring progressive individuals and organizations together to create a shared vision and develop a positive agenda for Austin’s future. Based on some of the language used and statements made, there is definitely work to do on developing a positive agenda.
As outlined by Bill Spelman, the key elements for such an agenda should be (1) the development of a broad-based coalition (2) that encompasses multiple issues and linkages and (3) that addresses common needs across ethnic boundaries and (4) that takes a long-term and (5) strategic view. The large view is to serve as an organizing basis. The key is to break it down into achievable bite size pieces.
The highlight of the afternoon was the keynote speech by George Lakoff
. Lakoff provided an overview and introduction to framing and to his analysis of the Strict Father model employed by conservatives and the Nurturing Parent model used by progressives. He noted how conservatives have skillfully spoken to where people employ the strict father model in their lives and have used the strict father model to reinforce universal conservative frames that are applied across issues. The universal conservative frames are (1) faith in a free market and the power of markets, (2) opposition to “big government,” (3) promotion of individual initiative, (4) message of opportunity and of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and (5) generally, that individuals know best.
The strict father model pairs power with morality in hierarchies. God is above man, man is above nature, men are above women, adults are above children, straights are above gays, whites are above others, and success is above struggle.
While listening to Lakoff, I had an insight on how conservatives see, and justify,the actions they take against gays and lesbians. Under the strict father model, gays and lesbians are seen as childish because, like children, they pursue what feels good to them. Thus, they should be treated as children until they reject their desires and take on the responsibilities of adults. A disturbing image, but one that resonates in light of the virulent opposition to gay marriage.
In contrast, the model of the nurturing parent emphasizes the nurturing of children in addition to respect and empathy for others, stressing that individuals take responsibility for themselves and for others. A model that is the opposite of permissiveness. Under this model, leadership is exhibited through care and through cooperation based on trust, honesty, and openness.
This model outlines core values that can serve as the basis for a progressive policy agenda. The progressive frame is use of the commonwealth for the common good so that all are free to pursue individual goals.