(Analysis.) “All politics is moral,” writes cognitive scientist and author George Lakoff. For years he has counseled Democrats on winning hearts and minds from the dishonest, but effective, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh-style Republican propaganda.
[S]tart with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.
Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. … And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.
The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.
Of course, having, as the Republicans do, hundreds of radio stations and a major news network devoted to the messaging would greatly help. Still, every liberal-minded person that speaks a clear message grounded in values, whether to one or a million-and-one, would also help.
Another way for Democrats to win hearts and minds with a message grounded in values is to embrace the nation’s traditional moral values system — that of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. One need not subscribe to the Christian religion to do this. Thomas Paine, one of the nation’s founders, shredded Christian mythology in his book “The Age of Reason,” but wrote therein:
NOTHING that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and an amiable man. The morality that he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind; and though similar systems of morality had been preached by Confucius, and by some of the Greek philosophers, many years before, by the Quakers since, and by many good men in all ages, it has not been exceeded by any.
Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and championed the separation between church and state, also praised those moral values. Jefferson cut-and-pasted from a bible into a blank book, leaving out the miracles and other passages he regarded as inauthentic. Thus, he made for himself a bible of only the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth — what Jefferson called “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” Off-and-on over the years, the Jefferson Bible has been given to the new incoming members of Congress, as each was sworn in.
Democrats can find a good resource for winning messages based on the moral values of Jesus of Nazareth at the website “Liberals Like Christ.” The website was created by Ray Dubuque, who served many years as a teacher, priest and minister. Dubuque works to …
spread the word that it’s not the “Religious Right” who are the friends of Jesus (they are the very kind of people who were the mortal foes of Jesus of Nazareth all his life). It’s liberals — some of whom don’t even believe in the existence of God — who strive to promote the welfare of the most needy people in our world — which is what Jesus of Nazareth promoted better than most.
The website aims to show how …
liberal ‘people of reason’ can band together with liberal ‘people of faith’ to challenge ‘Conservative Christians’ to become liberals, just as Jesus of Nazareth was …
… [I]t is virtually impossible to believe what Jesus Christ taught AND be Conservative in America today. Rather, one must make a choice between being either self-centered (and Conservative), OR community-directed (and Christian).
… What we are striving to achieve is to alert good Liberals like yourself to the tremendous opportunity that lies hidden in the terrible success of the “Religious Reicht”. The vast majority of those who follow and support the insincere leaders of this movement are inherently good -– if temporarily misguided -– Americans. They are devoting their time, money and energies to what they have been led to believe are good and holy causes. What we propose to do is to reach as many of these innocent victims as possible and show them how out of step they are with the very founder and leader of Christianity whom they want to believe in and follow, Jesus of Nazareth. They will then understand that to follow Christ in America these days is to be a very dedicated and activist Liberal!
Again, having many radio stations — especially throughout the “Bible Belt” — would greatly help. Still, every liberal-minded person that speaks a clear message based on the moral values system of Jesus of Nazareth, whether to one or a million-and-one, would also help.
Just for your information — if not inspiration — a 12-passage sampler of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth taken from a modern English version of the Jefferson Bible follows:
Throwing out the money changers
(Jefferson Bible page 3-verse 1/John 2:13) The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!”
Sermon on the Mount – Beatitudes
(6-1/Matthew 5:1) Seeing the multitudes, he went up onto the mountain. When he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
(8-9/Matthew 5:33) “Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,’ but I tell you, don’t swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can’t make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.”
An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?
(9-3/Matthew 5:38) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.”
Hate your enemy?
(9-8/Matthew 5:43) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
(11-11/Matthew 6:19) “Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Serving two masters?
(12-2/Matthew 6:24) “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon (money).
The speck in your brother’s eye
(Jeff 13-4/Matthew 7:3) Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.
The Golden Rule
(13-8/Matthew 7:7) “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
A rich man seeks eternal life
Behold, one came to him and said, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The young man said to him, “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees
(61-7 /Matthew 23:13) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!
On using the sword
(73-9/Matthew 26:50) Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. Behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take the sword will die by the sword.
Image: ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ by Claude Lorrain, 1656; found at ClaudeLorrain.org.
writes cognitive scientist “A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do” By George Lakoff; November 22, 2016
[S]tart with “Understanding Trump” By George Lakoff; July 23, 2016
hundreds of radio stations “Conservative talk radio” – RationalWiki
The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine; 1796; via Gutenberg.org
Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson; ~1776; via Monticello.org
separation between church and state “Extract from Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut” Jan 1, 1802.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
cut-and-pasted from a bible “How to Read the Bible in Two Hours” – The Paragraph; 2012-01-28
Jefferson Bible has been given “All New Re-Publication of Jefferson’s “Bible”” – Judd W. Patton, Ph.D.; Bellevue University
Ray Dubuque “Who is Ray Dubuque?” – Liberals Like Christ
liberal ‘people of reason’ can “If you’ve been looking for a really good antidote to the Religious Right, you’ve found it!” by Ray Dubuque, Liberals Like Christ
[I]t is virtually impossible ibid.
modern English version “The Jefferson Bible in Modern English” – The Paragraph
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By Quinn Hungeski, TheParagraph.com, Copyright (CC BY-ND) 2017
Love this, Quinn. Seeing that my family counts among it many Conservative “religious Reicht” members, the words hit very close to home.
Having failed so often in the past to break through that Conservative concrete-wall certainty, your suggestion puts me in mind of another old saying with its roots in the Bible: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/abditorium/nonesoblind.htm
Here’s to the light breaking through.