Guest Post: Amygdalas on OverdriveHint: The amygdala is a special structure in the back of your head where emotional memories are created. You have two of them and the one on your right side responds to fear. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala
|YIKES! I better vote!!!|
This campaign is stoking the fear button, because that is what is working.
This guest post is by a John David Coster, a construction project facilitator who does primary research on the election by chatting up the people sitting next to him on airplanes.
That's essentially what I do in the hour or so before the presidential event happens: talk with the people around me. Why do you like this guy??
His comment here is an amplification of what I wrote this morning: that Donald Trump's incautious comment on prosecuting women who have abortions created an instant flurry of email fundraising, and the fundraising was based on fear. Fear of crazy Trump. Fear the reign of terror on women. Boo!
I didn't see a lot of joy in the support for Hillary. There was some "high time a woman" talk but mostly Hillary support was contentment with her competence and fear that Bernie is too liberal and that the Republicans are crazy. Republicans are scared to death that a commie socialist feminist lesbian like Hillary might be president, which is sort of odd since the Sanders supporters wish she were in fact a crazy commie socialist feminist and are frustrated that she is so moderate and is essentially an Eisenhower Republican.
A recurring theme in my observations about the campaign is that the candidates' talks are shaped by what audiences applaud. They do not get excited about Hillary talking about incremental change. They do fire up their excitement amygdala when they hear Bernie's speaking of revolution against the utter degradation of our politics by billionaires. They did not cheer for the experienced and measured incrementalism of Bush, Graham, and Kasich. They do cheer for Trump and Cruz as they denounce immigrants and Muslims and the tremendous risks they pose.
Guest post by John Coster:
Last week I was flying from San Antonio to Seattle and my neighbor very quickly let me know he was a big fan of Trump and had no regard for those "idiot" democrats. He also seemed to assume I agreed, or maybe didn't care, or was being provocative. I decided it would be a more pleasant flight to not disagree. But tried an experiment to see if I could, without using any political or 'tribal' jargon, find out his core wants, needs and motivations.
It turns out he is very afraid. Afraid of all the things the far right says we should be afraid of. All he really wants physical security, economic prosperity, a good education and opportunity for his children, and a comfortable retirement. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And he feels these are threatened and something must be done. The key word I think is 'feels'.
My limited observation is that both sides are now playing to our strongest emotion and our political identities. My inbox is full of panicky messages from Moveon, DCCC, Pelosi, Franken and others. Amygdalas on overdrive. Our increasingly atrophied attention spans and seeming diminished ability to reason is no match for the power of our emotions and beliefs that have been stoked by those powerful, ever present voices shouting at us.
I feel like an unwilling concert-goer in the mosh pit of fence-crashing sheep. As Dave Barry might say "what a great name for a band"