A Book Every Progressive Should Read

Want to know why progressives keep losing elections even though the majority of Americans support progressive positions?

Read Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gagaby Joseph Romm.  It is a fascinating study of the neglected art of rhetoric.

If words are the bricks of speeches, rhetoric is the mortar and the scaffolding that converts them into something powerful, memorable and capable of moving masses and standing for ages untold.

Rhetoric, as Romm points out, explains how Churchill rallied a small island nation to stand alone in the breach of history against an evil tide.

It explains how Lincoln healed a nation.

It explains why the words of a poor carpenter spoken some 2000 years ago, still resonate today.

It explains why the King Jame’s bible, compiled by more than four dozen translators and a dozen writers, reads seamlessly and is the source of so many of the world’s most common figures of speech.

It explains why a 16th Century middle class kid from a middle-sized city grew up to write plays that will be quoted and watched for as long as we exist.

Rhetoric also explains why Lady Gaga has some 20 million Twitter followers, and why her lyrics appeal across generations.

And Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence explains rhetoric.

Taking the reader on journey covering 25 centuries of knowledge, Romm breathes life into language. The book itself is a joy to read, because the author practices what he preaches.

But if Language Intelligence explains why progressives lose, it also tells us why conservatives are doing so well.

The practice of rhetoric is simple, but not easy. This is only a partial recipe, but here are the main ingredients:

  • Use short words;
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat – “if you don’t repeat, you can’t compete;”
  • Use key figures of speech, especially metaphors.

To read the rest of the article, including how language relates to our current political situation, head over to Common Dreams.

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