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Lakoff to headline voting threshold initiative fundraiser

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 2:22 pm in 2010 election, ballot measures, Election reform.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff

UC-Berkeley Professor George Lakoff, expert in cognitive linguistics and author of “Don’t Think of Elephant!” is the featured guest at a Sunday event to raise money for a ballot measure that calls for reducing the California Legislature’s budget adoption threshold from two-thirds to a simple majority.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is hosting the event in Oakland on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. Click here for the invite.

Hancock authored SCA5, a bill that would place before voters in 2010 the opportunity to alter the threshold. If she is unable to secure passage of the measure in Sacramento, proponents plan to circulate the petition and gather the requisite number of signatures to place the question on the ballot using the initiative petition process.

The folks advocating for the change hope that voters’ unhappiness with the recent, drawn-out budget fight in Sacramento will see fit to make the reform. But opponents are expected to wage all-out war against the effort.

California is one of a handful of states with a two-thirds requirement to pass a budget. Critics say it allows a few members of the minority party to hold the budget hostage while advocates say it serves as a check on out-of-control spending.

Lakoff is an expert in what he calls framing, or the way advocates and their foes describe their positions and how those choices tap into the public’s attitudes about everything from taxes to political parties.  Lakoff has said that while Republicans have mastered the art of framing, Democrats have fallen behind. But several years ago, Democratic Party leaders sought help in framing their messages from his book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”

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  • RR

    Prof. Lakoff is a clever fellow but he may have trouble with self-styled “progressives” who think they have cornered the market on truth. In reality, the progs only understand their version of it, or Truthiness (cf., Stephen Colbert)