Thursday, April 07, 2005

Conservatives are Tough Lovers

Embracing George Lakoff's explanation of the "Right" and "Left" political poles as coming from two models of parenting, and taking up his call to "reframe" discussion with new language, allow me hereby to suggest that instead of "conservative" or "right-wing" we call the people in those camps "tough lovers." "Tough love" conveniently is an already somewhat stigmatized term--in that some people seem to use it to rationalize acts of cruelty--which for progressives creates a nearer goal than when right-wingers began to disparage "liberals." Meanwhile, "tough love" indeed is a natural term for what the strict father administers. So to the extent that Lakoff is correct when he points to strict-father parenting as the model for right-wing thinking, "tough lover" is a stab in the heart of any right-wing posture.

It also strikes me as "reframatory:" urging debate within a new frame, in this case about the theory of human nature or the personal pyschology that lie behind a voter's politics. If Lakoff is on target, then this is a debate we should be having, and it might be one progressives could argue more effectively than whatever we were arguing last election.

"Lover" as a stand-alone word, of course, whispers "fornicator" or "adulterer," and so "tough lover" is liable to suggest "sadomasochist" to many people at first blanch. This is a secondary issue for me. I admit I like the extra stigma of moral wrongness that these sexual connotations bring to "tough lover" and to the people on the right to whom I'd like to stick the label. But as somebody who is offended by gangly and misguided work-around terms like "significant other," I happen to get more kicks imagining the lost innocence that "lover" might regain through use of "tough lover" in polite political discussion.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I just think its funny that a euphamism for a certain homosexual act is another name for right wingers