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I know that nearly all here want this presidential race to be decided upon issues that face us circa 2008.

However, nearly ALL the research done supports Rick Davis' claim that issues will not decide this election because the fact is - and Drew Westen and George Lakoff would back this up - MOST people vote for the person to be President of the United States, NOT because of a laundry list of issues.

Not fundamentally understanding that costs us Presidential elections.

An image I have used to describe this is a stadium setting: on one half are the Democrats waving their arms and saying to the public which is watching "Look over here at our issues arena!". On the other side of the same stadium we have the Republicans beating up and attacking our Democratic candidates personally, tagging them with a negative identity. What are our candidates doing as they get beat up and tagged? Pretty much historically, they've stood still and let the Republicans beat up on them and let themselves get tagged.

As much as people say they don't like watching or listening to negative is the same as driving by an watch it. You watch it and listen to it with a kind of horrified attention.

You wait to see the Democrats fight back, you want the Democrats to fight back, but too many Presidential election cycles have shown us that Democratic candidates don't fight back, and  by then no-one pays attention to to the other half of that stadium where the Democrats feel comfortable discussing issues. Pretty soon the people in that stadium are saying to themselves and each other:"Those guys are wimps for not fighting back, until they fight back, I don't want to hear what they have to say".

The way to combat this quadrennial fight in the political arena that has been occurring with amazing regularity is to:

  • defend against the attacks don't assume that people aren't watching and listening, and believing
  • resist the tags they want to attach vigorously
  • When the Democrats have finished beating up the Republicans in that Republican arena, THEN drag their sorry asses back into the issues arena where WE DEMOCRATS feel comfortable and taunt them and say :Now that we are in OUR ARENA, let's discuss what really matters to that audience watching.

    By then you'll have grabbed the attention of everyone. And earned their respect for fighting back.

    Once you have their respect the people will listen. You lose their respect when you don't defend yourself.

    Joe Biden did an excellent job yesterday when he conjured up an image of a high school smart ass who has nothing but quips and tagged the Republicans with it saying "They have nothing else"

    I want to hear MORE of that.

    Drew Westen's  book "Political Brain" spoke exactly to this general election phenomenon I have described.

    George Lakoff correctly identified in his book "Thinking Points", Richard Wirthlin as the Republican strategist for Ronald Reagan who first discovered why people voted for Reagan despite not agreeing with Reagan on issue after issue. Wirthlin's discovery? People vote for entirely personal reasons about the candidate. The Republicans have burned this into their DNA. Rick Davis has merely stripped away the veneer that Republicans still pretend to care about issues. They care about preserving the status quo and about furthering inequality. That's all.

    They've learned how to win.

    We've researched how they win.

    The research has been done.

    We ignore the findings at our peril.

    Originally posted to merbex on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 09:02 AM PDT.

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    Comment Preferences

    •  Most people do vote on personality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but they like to think they vote on issues.

      •  There is a difference between a primary fight and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Willy

        a General Election fight.

        The reason why primaries usually attract a smaller number of voters is because the primaries bring out the activists who are usually more attuned to the differences among candiadtes by way of issues.

        It is entirely different for a General Presidential Election.

        The voter pool is bigger and what motivates those people to choose is the person. They are making a choice between 2 people.

        We ignore that, we lose.

        If I could ask the Obama Biden team for one thing it would be to just stop in any way complimenting Mcsame's service. Just shup up about it.

        Say nothing nice about McSame for the next 60 days

    •  Links to these statements by Weston and (0+ / 0-)


      It's AMERICANS, not people, who vote based on feelings about a candidate's personality.  The rest of the democratic world is way beyond us because they know better.  They've learned to see beyond personality to issues.

      Obama wants to bring American voters into the real world of the 21st century, where people have learned to vote their best interests.  

      "No way, no how, no McCain." Hillary Clinton

      by keeplaughing on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 09:13:50 AM PDT

    •  This is true but it's a false dichotomy. (0+ / 0-)

      In political cognition/decision-making, personality and statements about policy are inextricable.

      Perceptions of what kind of person the candidate is and what policies s/he proposes are funneled into predictions about what will happen if I vote for a particular candidate.

      Assholes, idiots, wimps, etc. are expected to have certain biases when it comes to policy.

      •  I'm not talking about governing. I'm talking abou (0+ / 0-)

        what it takes to win.

        Why republicans have won.

        How our side's research has shown that yes, by activating emotions, about a candidate will draw voters to your column.

        We ignore it we lose.

        A perfect example is the Kerry campaign thinking that noone would actually believe that stuff the Swift boaters were saying about him ...they wouldn't dignify it with a comment.

        When you don't defend yourself it feeds into another image they have created:wimps

        This is hard for Democrats to accept.

        But if we want to win we should accept it.

    •  Suggest a revision (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As one way to combat the "politics of personality" (or "personality politics") of the Republicans you suggest:


      What the Republicans, led by Karl Rove, have demonstrated time and again is that it is more effective to attack the strengths (or at least perceived strengths) of an opponent.  I think this is the way to go if you go on attack.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

      by accumbens on Sat Sep 06, 2008 at 09:36:13 AM PDT

    •  You highlight the reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that Palin IS an important issue. Despite a few too many silly diaries I think the "anti" Palin diaries are GREAT and they are the reason I come here. Palin is still a cipher to many, though time is wasting is push back against the propaganda campaign that followed her selection (another great example of how Republican define the narrative FOR the press ahead of time and constantly reinforce it

      By letting the GOP define her as an anti-pork, anti-corruption maverick and American's moose killing sweetheart we let McCain reinforce his positive attributes and possibly win the election. The key is that by highlighting the problems we are finding with Palin, we can devastate McCain's central argument- that he represents straight-talking CHANGE- and show him to be a lying and cynical right winger who will follow in Bush-Cheney's footsteps.

      •  'Exactly' to both your posts (0+ / 0-)

        She and her selection should be attacked atacked attacked as an insult that has been inflicted upon the American people.

        Kids cant afford college and she's getting 'tutored in foreign policy' by Joe Lieberman.

        She is UNQUALIFIED

        She has done nothing to allievate the conditions millions of Americans face.

        She has been inflicted upon us

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