The Health Care Debate

health A special “current events” edition of the Forr Files, as Barack Obama prepares to speak to Congress about health care reform.

Books by George Lakoff, a linguist at the University of California-Berkeley, are at the core of the ZMET canon.   His seminal work is called Metaphors We Live By.

Lakoff recently authored this long but insightful article about why the Republican Party is apparently winning the debate over health care in America – and why Obama seems to be losing that debate.

Lakoff leans far to the left; therefore, I would expect some of us to disagree with his political views.   But what he really is doing here is using politics as an example of why framing and storytelling are so important in any kind of communication.

Old school marketers still seem to believe that the most effective way to persuade is to describe product attributes, explain why those attributes are better than the competitors’ attributes, and pretty much leave it at that, with maybe a token appeal to emotion.  Unfortunately, as Lakoff points out, that kind of thinking reflects a profound lack of understanding about how the human mind operates.