On October 2nd, US President Trump’s ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, set off international alarm bells when she proclaimed that, “Washington remained committed to a diplomatic solution but was prepared to consider a military strike if the development of the medium-range system continued”.
This is a direct example of politicians playing to people’s emotions – though many people remain oblivious to the frequency with which this occurs. Politics has become a battleground where politicians fight more for control of the emotions of the people than for control of the national interests.
Beto O’Rourke, a candidate for the United States Senate, has become one of the most popular American politicians today. He became the first Democratic nominee to win a Texan statewide office since 1994, gaining more than half of the votes.
What is it about him that makes people gravitate towards his vote? He may have a solid platform, but he’s not the only one. What Beto has going for him is that he is a good salesman. At the end of the day, that is what a politician is: a salesman. They have a product that they want you to endorse.
Any good salesman will tell you that the true essence of the sales industry is that the customer is buying emotions. Beto knows how to communicate with the people in a way to invoke their deepest emotions. If you have watched any of his speeches, you would notice his flamboyant gestures and his thundering tones. You will notice how his passionate speeches always touch on a topic that is very controversial in American society. More often than not, Beto does not even include a detailed plan of action in his speeches! Instead, Beto offers Americans the promise that he will fight for them.
In a country where the people feel helpless against its democratically stifling government, Beto offers the emotions of hope and a will to renew the fight.
That’s the winning strategy of a good politician. They gain more emotional support than their competition and turn that emotional support into votes. The path to power lies not in the minds of the people, but in their hearts.
The same goes for a politician. A politician makes his/her platform not based on what the country needs, but on what he/she thinks the people need to hear.
A classic example of this can be seen in Donald Trump. It is true that he has been talked about and analyzed over and over, but there is a reason for that. He provides us with an example of how a populace can be swayed by extravagant promises that hold little substance. One of his most well-known mottos, “Make America Great Again”, provokes an emotion in the people of a stagnant country who feel threatened by various developments in the global community. From a paranoia of terrorism, to increasing competition from other countries. However, his vow to make America great again has been delivered with many broken promises. It ranges from increasing the national debt while cutting taxes when he declared that he will lower the national debt, to forcing many Americans to sacrifice basic necessities of life to get medication after he promised that he will ensure every American can still afford golf.
Psychological studies have shown that the human mind is not actually governed by rational thoughts. Rather, it is always subconsciously influenced by irrational motives. Michael Levine says, in “The Divided Mind”, that 80% of the decisions that Americans make are based on emotions. Only 20% of decisions are made with some degree of objectivity.
Antonio Damasio did research on people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. Interestingly enough, he discovered that these people were unable to make decisions. They were able to make rational descriptions of what they should do, but were frequently unable to make even the most simple choices in life, such as what to eat!
As much as we would like to think that we are rational beings at our core, we are most certainly not. Logic is a wall that we put up around ourselves to make us seem like humanity is a sophisticated species. Unfortunately, it is nothing but a facade. We are emotional beings, and politicians know it. The end result is that we become puppets tied to our own heartstrings. It’s time that we cut those strings. Break free of the grip of political emotions and focus on what is truly important: the continued growth.