September 17, 2008

Living in a Post-Rational World

So, before all of you liberals, progressives, and Democrats start doing the electoral victory dance because the failing economy has turned the tide presumably in Obama's favor, let me make one observation:

Although most people don't want to admit it, the vast majority of the electorate does not cast a vote for a specific policy or issue, even when they say they do. They're not voting for the issue, but for their emotional response to the issue.

They're not voting FOR a pro-life platform - they're voting because aligning themselves with the pro-life platform makes them FEEL better about their relationship with God.

They're not voting FOR environmental platform - they're voting because aligning with conservationism makes them FEEL like responsible stewards of the planet.

They're not voting FOR gun control - they're voting because the idea of gun control makes them FEEL safer.

As I mentioned earlier, Republicans figured this out a long time ago and decided to just cut out the middle man: they don't even really bother to run on issues anymore. Their campaigns are almost like reality TV shows, with characters cast in the roles as candidates to elicit specific emotional responses.

"The Maverick"

"The Hockey Mom"

"The Guy You'd Like To Have A Beer With"

Bill Clinton got it. He was "The Man From A Place Called 'Hope'".

Obama gets it, too. Just look at the early speeches.

The point is, if you're pinning your hopes for the election on convincing people with a rational argument about taxes and incentives and plans and such, I've got news for you: the average American is not listening.

They're feeling.

And if you want to win, you'd better start feeling and sharing and eliciting those feelings right along with them.
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