blogenlust
10.24.2004

James Dobson, Unhinged


I just finished reading George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives. Basically, the book is a quick rundown of how conservatives do a better job of framing issues in a way that gets people to support their policies. One of the people Lakoff credits for helping conservatives more effectively frame their rhetoric is James Dobson. Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization that produces internationally syndicated radio programs that are heard by over 200 million people every day. He has also sold millions of books about parenting, marriage, and discipline. If you can't tell, he is practically the commercial wing of the Religious Right. Now, I had never heard of the guy before reading Lakoff's book, which I guess is pretty normal for people like myself (i.e. "blue staters".) For those of the "red state" persuasion, though, Dobson's words are downright biblical. As a result, the Republicans have applied his rhetorical style to issues ranging from tax cuts to the war on terror. This has shrewdly enabled large portions of the population to identify themselves with Republican policy precisely because it echoes Dobson. This is why you always hear Republicans talking about values, and it is why people vote for those politicians who mirror their own values, even if the politician's policies aren't in their best interests. I find the connection interesting, but from a practical standpoint it scares me, and I think it should scare a lot of moderate Republicans. For example, Andrew Sullivan points out Dobson's latest thoughts on gay marriage:
Dobson warned those attending the Friday afternoon rally at Oklahoma Christian University that the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected. He cited examples of countries such as Norway that have allowed same-sex couples to marry as proof that fewer men and women get married. Dobson said 80 percent of children are born out of wedlock in Norway. "Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said. "It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
So you can see, Dobson is a real peach, and it comforts me that such a wise and reasonable man is the driving force behind the Republicans' rhetorical framing.