How Emotion has taken over Politics

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Let me start by putting all my Trump supporting “friends” at ease.  This is not a trash Trump post. It is also not a trash Hillary post. I won’t even be trashing Bernie, despite my serious issues with his policies towards Israel. Actually, hold that thought.  I take that back.  I might trash Bernie a little. You see, the point is that to many people it makes no difference what these politician’s policies actually are.  What ultimately matters is who we like.

I start with a bit of disclaimer.  A friend of mine who has been around for many election cycles and has met numerous politicians, candidates and even presidents over the years told me that every election he’s ever seen was decided by who people like more than by the candidate’s policies.  That being said, personally I’ve never seen anything like what we are witnessing this year.  It’s so bad that if Clinton and Trump would do exactly the same thing the reactions would be completely different based on who people like.  Trump knows it.  We all assume he was joking when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters would still support him, but we all now know this is true.  Of course I don’t believe for one second Trump would shoot someone on 5th Avenue, he’s more likely to take them out back and do it on Madison Avenue (just kidding), but those who support him wouldn’t care either way.

It’s not just Trump supporters by any means.  I’ve seen numerous discussions take place between staunch Conservatives and Hilary Clinton supporters, and when they ask them about the deaths of 4 Americans in Benghazi and hold her responsible, her supporters never come back with a factual response.  They either say it doesn’t matter, there was nothing she could do, or that they don’t care if she made a mistake, they still support her. I’m not discussing her culpability in the matter, and I am not saying whether there is or is not a factual response, but if you support her and that is your answer, it’s not about policy, it’s either about personality or habit.  By habit I mean voting for someone because they represent the party you stand behind and you could never vote differently no matter what your candidate says or does. But let’s be honest. If you didn’t sufficiently like the candidate, that would most likely trump (pun intended) your usual habit.

A friend of mine in the sales world once said, “people buy with emotion, then justify it with logic”.  It would appear most Americans vote the same way.  Case in point, here are some of the most common terms of the day

“I love Trump”

“I hate Hilary”

“I hate Trump”

“Feel the Bern”

“I love Hilary”

“Trump scares me”

“I like Trump”

“I like Hilary”

“I like Bernie”

These 9 terms are indicative of what drives a large portion of the American electorate as  we sit here today May 18, 2016.  Don’t believe me?  Watch “Waters World” on the “O’Reilly Factor” just one time and you’ll see how a large percentage of people who choose the president think (using the word think very loosely).  And those are just the dumb ones. Want to hear a smart person sound really stupid? Turn on CNN and listen to Kayleigh Mcenany, Georgetown graduate who studied politics at Oxford University and Donald Trump surrogate. Surrogate is different than supporter. Supporters don’t need to sound smart, surrogates do.  The best way to describe Kayleigh Mcenany’s support for Donald Trump is to imagine him tweeting something to the effect of, Kayleigh Mcenany is an ugly cow (I use that as an hypothetical because she’s actually quite attractive).  I am fairly convinced that her response would be something like this.  I believe what Mr. Trump was trying to say was that he loves his wife Melania very much and that she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

You see, in this election cycle it doesn’t matter to the people what you say or what you’ve been accused of doing, all that matters is if you like them.  I’ve heard people who love Israel say they like Bernie Sanders in the same sentence.  Why? Because he’s a charismatic old dude from Brooklyn and they like him. It certainly can’t be because of his approach towards Israel, an approach that could facilitate its destruction. Then again, why listen to me.  I’m just saying that because “I hate Bernie”.  I’d add that to the list but it’s not a prevailing emotion. Most either like him or don’t take him seriously. I as a Jew and a Zionist feel strongly about him because of a stated policy approach.

Since I have my moments when I both like and don’t like Trump and Hilary, I’ll leave my personal feelings (other than my disapproval for Bernie) out of this.   I will say this in defense of everyone, myself included that base their support or lack of support on emotion.  There’s nothing wrong with voting for someone who makes you feel good about life, the future, and the country you love, or at least like.  Just admit it.  Don’t try so hard to pretend it’s because of policy when we all know that most candidates main policy issue anyway is just getting themselves elected.  Pick who you like, hold your breath, and hope you’re right.  And while you’re at it don’t insult someone who likes something or someone different than you do, because there is no right and wrong when it comes to what someone likes.  That would be like someone telling you they like Pizza and responding “your wrong”. Those of you who will say that is very different may be in that minority that does pick a candidate based on policy or claims to because they are justifying their emotional choice with logic, but let’s face the facts.  Elections are popularity contests, not referendums on judgment and experience.  And my friend is probably right.  It’s probably always been that way.

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