An article in the May/June issue of Psychology Today outlined the high-stakes science of campaign messaging and revealed that success at the ballot box hinges more on how we feel about things, rather than on what we think about them.
For example, how do you feel about the unemployed, Medicaid recipients, and DREAMers? Whether you care or not, you are likely going to hear a lot about these issues in the coming months, as America heads into a heated presidential election. And if you do care, you should wipe every one of these phrases out of your vocabulary because it is hard enough to run against tough opponents who do not share your values. You also don't want to run against the human brain. It is a formidable adversary, and every one of these words and phrases is working for the neural opposition.
In 2007, researcher and clinical psychologist Drew Westen, PhD, who had watched one Democratic candidate after another go down in flames, researched and wrote a book entitled The Political Brain. His book dissects how candidates might talk with voters if they understood how our minds work.
As was readily apparent from their campaigns over decades, Democrats and Republicans have two very different implicit visions of the mind of the voter. Republicans talked about their values, such as faith, family, and limited government. In contrast, Democrats talked about their policy prescriptions, bewitched by the dictum that “a campaign is a debate on issues.” Perhaps blinded by their indifference to emotions, they left to chance the selling of those policies to the public.
Awareness of how we feel about issues can be very helpful as we learn about the candidates. Whether a candidate is Democrat or Republican, the principles a candidate presents are of most relevance. It behooves each voter, including myself and the readers of this blog, to learn as much as possible about the values and visions of each candidate. Over all, it is important to realize if you are making voting decisions based on how family and friends vote, rather than how you are investigating the actual facts of the situation.
Dear reader, given that the election will not occur until November, there is ample time to evaluate each candidate, which is what I will do, and hope you will do as well. Comments about this blog are most welcome.