Politics and Emoting

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
01/17/2013
       
Politics and Emoting

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, but it should have served as a model for political victory.

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, but it should have served as a model for political victory.

“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?

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.

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 or she 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.

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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)

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