Advertisement

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Politics and Emoting: A Brief Introduction for Republicans

President Obama’s decision to have himself surrounded with school children as he announced his “proposals” to deal with “gun violence” on Wednesday caused a lot of hand wringing among his opponents. 

“Demagogic,” “offensive,” “disgusting,” and “shameless” were just some of the adjectives used to describe it.

I have no interest in defending Obama.  Anyone with an IQ above four and just a modicum of decency has no difficulty seeing the President’s rush to exploit children—both those who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook School shooting as well as those with whom he surrounded himself—as the intellectually and morally impoverished enterprise that it is.

But what does rationality and moral virtue have to do with political strategy? 

Advertisement

Obama and his fellow travelers on the left are often accused by their rivals on the right of “emoting.” That the left is not infrequently guilty of this charge is true enough.  Yet what those on the right refuse to grasp is that what they perceive to be a weakness is, politically speaking, the left’s greatest strength.

While this doesn’t accord with the myth—and, yes, it is indeed a myth—of the Wisdom of the American People, the brute, immovable fact of the matter is that when it comes to politics, the vast majority of American voters do not live by reason.  Emotion is the air they breathe.  Emoting is what they do.

That is, the left stands a far greater chance of making inroads with the average American voter because the left speaks his language.

Advertisement

Notice, I am not suggesting for a moment that the average American acts unduly irrational or emotional. It is the average American voter who acts thus.  It is within the realm of politics, particularly national politics, that he is most susceptible to abandoning reason, for the average voter is just not all that attentive to the events that unfold on this stage—or how those events are framed so as to serve predetermined political ends.

As the conservative theorist Joseph Schumpeter noted, the average voter “drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field.” Schumpeter explains that he “argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests.  He becomes a primitive again.  His thinking becomes associative and affective.”

Advertisement

Translation: the average voter emotes. 

Not only does the average voter “tend to yield to extra-rational or irrational prejudice and impulse,” but “because he is not ‘all there,’ he will relax his usual moral standards as well and occasionally give in to dark urges which the conditions of private life help him to repress.” 

The average voter then becomes easy prey for “groups with an ax to grind,” groups that “are able to fashion and, within very wide limits, even to create the will of the people” (emphasis added).      

Whether Obama and his ilk have ever read Schumpeter is irrelevant.  They are more than slightly aware of the truth of which he speaks.

And there is nothing or no one that they won’t manipulate to advance their political agenda.

Advertisement

No class of persons, no event, and no emotion is exempt from being conscripted into the service of perfecting the left’s mission to “fundamentally transform” the country.

Republicans can bellyache all day long about Obama’s and the Democrats’ tactics.  Or the former can realize that only by playing the latter’s game, only by combating image with image, can Republicans defeat Democrats.

Republicans are not very adept at this sport.  Sadly, there is more than enough proof of this, but the most recent exhibition comes to us from last year’s presidential race when the candidates insisted upon centering the bulk of their focus on debts, deficits, and numbers that aren’t remotely fathomable to the average voter.  

Advertisement

If Republicans understood what Schumpeter and Obama know, then on Wednesday they could’ve choreographed a rebuttal to Obama’s push for greater “gun control.” Rather than surround themselves with children, they could’ve surrounded themselves with images—statues and/or paintings—of the men who ratified the United States Constitution. They could’ve delivered their rebuttal in front of a huge screen with the words of the Second Amendment on it, or grand illustrations of American colonists voluntarily taking to the hills and the streets with their guns in order to do battle with the English King and his Redcoats who threatened their liberties.

Besides reminding Americans of their Fathers and their Fathers’ legacy, this tactic could have also sent the powerful, if subtle, message that while Obama and company prefer to turn to little children for advice on issues of national import, the President’s enemies consult the wisdom of the country’s Founders.

 

 

Previous Posts

Thinking Seriously About the Virginia Murders
On the morning of August 26, Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of WBDJ, shot and murdered WBDJ TV’s Alison Parker and Adam Ward on live television. He shot a third person, Vicki Gardner, who Parker was interviewing. Fortunately, the ...

posted 10:12:39am Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Trump Is No Conservative, But Neither Is...Chris Christie!
Donald Trump hasn’t the most conservative of track records. His opponents in the GOP presidential field and in segments of the so-called “conservative media” have sought to discredit Trump on this score. But they are dishonest, for ...

posted 8:51:39am Aug. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Trump Is No Conservative, But Neither Is...John Kasich!
Donald Trump may not be a conservative. His Republican opponents, both his rivals in the presidential primary contest as well as their apologists in the media, are laboring tirelessly to discredit their party’s front runner on this ...

posted 10:23:39pm Aug. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Trump is No Conservative But Neither Is...Carly Fiorina!
As I argued a few weeks ago, there are reasons for doubting Donald Trump’s conservative bona fides. But those of his critics at Fox News and in some quarters of “conservative” talk radio who level this charge against him are disingenuous, ...

posted 11:44:43pm Aug. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Trump is No Conservative, But Neither Is....Marco Rubio!
On its face, few things on the contemporary American political scene are as puzzling as Marco Rubio fans blasting Donald Trump for not being a true “conservative.” As I’ve argued recently, given his track record, the unprejudiced ...

posted 10:03:12am Aug. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.