Friday, October 27, 2006

Brain Stem Voting: Love and Politics

Over and over, Democrats have asked, "Why do people vote against their own self interest?" and "Why does fear trump freedom in the voting booth?" I am convinced that the most primitive part of our brain, the brain stem, is responsible. This is also the part of the brain that studies have shown is most active when people "fall in love." And we all know that while that state of bliss is lots of fun, it also can cause us to act against our own self interest. In politics and in love, the limbic system, or emotional brain, is often involved as well , but rarely does the cerebrum, "the reasoning brain" get involved.

"Brain Stem Voting" explains why fear and attraction are such a powerful motivators. Survival is our most basic instinct. No wonder voters' choices often don't seem rational. Often, they're not. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that they vote for the candidate they "like the best." And George Bush is President because the electorate chose the perception of safety over freedom. In campaigns, Democrats often make the mistake of assuming that voters will be reasonable. Think again. For Democrats to win, we have to learn to frame our message to reach that most basic part of the the brain.

Oh, and it's no accident that this part of the brain is sometimes referred to as the "reptilian brain." Hummm...that explains a thing or two...


Tina said...

Americans, on the whole, tend to have a broad streak of anti-intellectualism. To be "too educated" is perceived as wimpy. I well remember how the Republicans described Adlai Stevenson as an "egghead." Maybe it's because we are still a young country historically.

definitelydemo said...

An interesting and illuminating piece.