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Kos invoked questions about the nature of the electorate and why Democrats lose elections in this FP post, which TrueBlueMajority answered with this thoughtful post, making the main point that the electorate is an emotional creature, not a logical one. The GOP's powerful emotional themes trump Democrats who attempt instead to appeal to reason.

An emotional pitch, even one that is based on a lie, will win out over a thoughtful pitch based on evidentiary analysis...

...because more people are capable of absorbing and understanding and responding to an emotional pitch than an analytical pitch.

In this comment thread, Kos himself said this about TBM's post: "You're the reason I've been pacing back and forth mumbling to myself."

It was Kos's comment that made me read both posts, at which point I smacked my forehead and muttered, Eureka. The point is unassailable because, after all, voters, like all other humans, are basically chimpanzees, talkative and sometimes particularly clever ones, but still just chimpanzees, most particularly, emotionally.

In America, we're just chimps that vote. More on that out in the tall grass if you are interested.

TBM's post discusses important ways for Democrats to reach out to those most susceptible to emotional appeals: the intellectually challenged and intellectually lazy, you know, everybody. Just kidding. I remembered, though, the very same thoughts imparted to me by my mentor as a trial lawyer, helping me understand the art of presenting cases to juries, that is, pools of registered voters and bad drivers (aren't most of the drivers in your area terrible?).

Carl Sagan's book The Dragons of Eden pursues the thesis that "the mind... [is] a consequence of its anatomy and physiology and nothing more". Moreover, the "anatomy and physiology" of the human brain did not, as some in the GOP would have it, come from nowhere, or as they might say, the mind of God. It came from human ancestors, across the millenniums, dating back to the ancestor that modern humans share with chimpanzees, humanity's closest living relative in the Animal Kingdom.

I'm not going to be good at the message framing for the nonintellectuals, am I?

Hence, humans and chimpanzees share 99% of their DNA. Moreover, as noted in the above mentioned Carl Sagan book, the most recently-evolved areas of the human brain are the larger cerebral cortices. In layers below these lobes lie the more ancient parts of our brains, where emotion, anger and fear reside. We come by our feelings naturally, from our own evolution. But while our frontal lobes let most of us excel over chimpanzees' ability at abstract reasoning, language and other cognitive measures, our emotions, though also evolved, no doubt, still seem remarkably chimp like.

So, the way to win an electorate is to create a strategy to reach and motivate and appeal to chimps that vote. If you still doubt that, watch this:

Chimpanzees and similar primates display a natural grasp of common human facial displays of emotion. Other research has suggest that "Young apes manage emotions like humans do", based upon research with bonobo's, a smaller relative of the chimpanzee. Human emotions seem to be in part, at least, locked in by tens of thousands of generations of ancient, evolved, hard wired, brain based emotional responses that are built into humans at a very fundamental level.

Anyone seeking to appeal to a jury, or an electorate, should always bear in mind that we're just chimps that vote. Forget what people say. Chimpanzees can use word signs but can't really talk, probably. What matters is, how do the people feel? For generations, Republicans have prospered by providing plenty of targets for voters to hate, gays, them the Other, etc. It's time for Democrats to give voters new ones. Given our ape-like natures, success requires it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by LeftOfYou on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:46:04 PM PST

  •  While I think you're right to say we have to work (5+ / 0-)

    on the emotional appeal of our message I don't think substituting one hate for another is a good idea.

    For generations, Republicans have prospered by providing plenty of targets for voters to hate, gays, them the Other, etc. It's time for Democrats to give voters new ones.
    Republicans are masters at using hate. We'll never match them at it nor be able to use to drive messages like equality, fair wages, clean water, etc. We need to find positive emotional messages. I'll admit it's harder, the lizard brain that the Republicans target goes for the negative, but it can be done.

    Food processed to be nothing more than simple starches with two dozen flavorings and stabilizers added to make it appear to be food isn't "food". It's "feed" -- what you give to livestock to fatten them up for slaughter.

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:04:41 PM PST

    •  It helps to know whom to vote against. (4+ / 0-)

      The emotions associated with human antagonisms are complex, powerful and extremely useful to those who wish to manipulate people's choices. Republicans do not hesitate to wield the power of this kind of emotion, the dark side of the force, as it were. So long as progressives are too dainty to do the same, we are unilaterally disarming ourselves.

      In politics and the plutocracy there are plenty of figures who deserve actual seething hate, not because of color or condition or class, but because of the sheer gangsta evil they do every day. There are plenty of useful targets for these powerful emotions, if Democrats are willing to get tough.  

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:14:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think we need some more language here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, sidnora, TracieLynn

      Human beings can be motivated to oppose a threat, even to resist an adversary, without having to "hate" anyone as in 1984's Two Minutes Hate. Limiting ourselves to "positive emotional messages" is a non-starter. Over one hundred million pounds of coal ash in a North Carolina river: anger, disgust, and fear are appropriate. People denied life-saving care by insurance company bean-counters: ditto. Rich folks blathering about the ruinous expense and/or "moral hazard" of basic income supports for people who are scrabbling to make ends meet: don't it make you wanna holler? Actually, I don't know where to start. There's a lot to be angry about, and there are people who ought to be opposed.

      "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

      by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 04:58:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And so if you convince the "chimps" that if they (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, OHdog, penguins4peace

    don't get out and vote in 2014, that they will have their freedoms taken away.

    Their favorite shows will be cancelled, their iphones confiscated, and their facebook accounts cancelled, because  Republicans and their bosses think the "chimps" waste too much time with such things and are not truly having a "dignified life" by working instead of pursuing such hobbies.

  •  People are lazy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou, Aunt Pat, penguins4peace

    It's the simple truth. We take short cuts where ever possible. I think we use our feelings to accomplish this. Feelings, however, are not emotions though they are much closer to them than analytical musings and are easily triggered by emotional appeals.

  •  That would explain why we seem to be blind to.. (4+ / 0-)

    ..the obvious. And that we're probably screwed. If reason loses, we're finished.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:24:26 PM PST

    •  It also helps explain why, in politics, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      we so very much seem to enjoy flinging shit at one another.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:16:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh yeah? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, LeftOfYou

    Here's a Second Amendment remedy, sucker!

     photo 1653252_803042549712497_1128419337__zps78a44103.jpg

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:40:52 PM PST

  •  If, as you argue, politics requires giving up (0+ / 0-)

    on reasoned argument and relying on unreasoning emotion, why bother?
       After all, progressivism and liberalism are altruistic political viewpoints. If people don't want to vote for their own interests, why is that our problem?
      Why should we try to emotionally manipulate them?
      After all, if progressives and liberals are smart enough to do the emotional manipulation, we are certainly smart enough to survive and prosper in the social and economic hellscape that the conservatives are building.
       Rather than trying to con people into voting for our people, why not organize to take care of ourselves?

  •  R'd and Tipped.. (0+ / 0-)

    slightly off topic-- anyone posting lately here re: our new ambassador to I think its Argentina-- an Obama bundler who has never been to the country?


    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:50:47 AM PST

  •  The problem is not humans, Madison was human, (0+ / 0-)

    the alienation of non-voters is related to alienation generally after 40 years of transformation into a corporatist oligarchy. The parties can do little to cultivate a responsive consensus, post- Buckley. The deecisive defeat of liberal religion as a progressive force after the assassination of King, shows a gap in moral intensity among liberals. Not Madison, but certainly abolitionist JQA assumed a staunch moral religious commitment inherited from Winthrop and at the source of most progressive reforms, pretty much ending with a wimper after the passing of Niebuhr, Dorothy Day, Malcolm X, and the first Catholic president. Jimmy Carter was run out of D.C. for imploring the nation to find its progressive moral compass.

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