amateur political punditry

Any long-time reader of my blog knows that my dislike for oversimplification and reductionism about the complexities of life and feelings and ideas, and yet the political arena is just way too complicated for me to weigh in on one side or the other, the way it has been polarized by a dominating by two parties.

While television has finally broken the hold of the Big-Three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC reigned the airwaves for decades), politics has not broken the two major parties. Best attempts by amorphous “Independent Party” and their candidates of Anderson and Perot grabbed some presidential election votes, but the Party hasn’t sustained to put in candidates on a national scale in the recent elections.

Being non-partisan, I plain just don’t get dogmatic about my political perspectives, though if I were forced to reveal my political stripes, I’d probably be socially progressive and fiscally conservative, and certainly not extreme on the spectrum of views. Centrist, to oversimplify.

A few observations to the Democratic Party, and how to win a presidential election. (These are by no means a complete strategy and no guarantee for victory)

It’s about winning votes.” Getting a win in the presidential race is all about winning votes in as many states as possible. It’s not about the economy, and it’s not about values, even tho’ recent elections have over-reduced it down to those line items. In a majorityism system, it’s about knowing what will motivate large numbers of individuals to vote for your candidate. 59.6% voter turnout among the eligibles is great, but it’s still not a 2/3 majority. So, if a majority number of voters are supposedly religious (even though in most places I’ve been in America, religion is not welcomed in social life or public discourse), then you cannot dismiss or disdain them with labels like “Jesusland” or “religious right“. If every vote matter, every voter matter.

Work the system. Petitions and protests don’t work. It’s a popular way for some to be very vocal about their disagreements with those in power, and the 1st amendment gives us in this country plenty of freedoms to express. But you have to strategically use what works to change the system, rather than only being vocal. Bloggers and mass media are largely left of center, dominating broadband and airwaves, but changing political appointment is more than being vocal, it’s appealing to the majority for their votes.

Appeal to emotions. Human behavior still shows that people are largely selfish individuals, even tho’ supposedly the 80s were the decade of “me-ism”. It’s still an individualistic culture in America, and people are concerned about their own well being. To get people motivated enough to stand in poll lines to cast a vote requires an emotional appeal, and not only an intellectual one (as much as I dislike that too). The 2 basest of emotions are: reward and jeopardy. Learned that in preaching class back in the days. Reward = what do I gain; jeopardy = what do I lose. Even though a majority of people dislike negative campaigning, that same majority of people get motivated to vote by it. If the majority of voters could be appealed by a more powerful emotion than that, use it. If Love is the Killer App, maybe love will motivate people. But I don’t think for a majority of people that love isn’t enough of a reward or jeopardy to cast a vote.

Keeping it simple. Human behavior is what it is, and a majority of people want their message on the lower shelf. That’s why marketing slogans do work for so many people. Even with more money pitched on the Democratic side on this round, the message wasn’t simple and compelling enough for a majority. What was the message in 10 words or less? I much prefer a nuanced and substantive approach to life and ideas, but most people don’t.

My read on the Democratic party positions is that they do appeal to certain ideas and values, like social liberties, like policies to advocate for the disinfranchised, marginalized, and poor. And internal debate goes back and forth about whether to move to the center, to appeal to the middle. I don’t think the ideals or values matter to the majority. But packaging and perception and emotional appeal do.

Most people don’t actually care for the marginalized, b/c it’s not appealing to their base emotions of reward or jeopardy. Policies can’t care. People have to care. Non-profits, both religious and non-religious, do a better job of caring than government-funded agencies. Ask the poor people, they can discern what’s quality or not.

Maybe the Democratic party can uphold their own value for diversity and inclusivity, and be truly inclusive of all peoples, religious and non-religious, traditional and progressive, rural and urban, marrieds and singles. Psst, a majority of the American adult population are single, and they’re disinfranchised by both churches and politics. Could one clear message be crafted to appeal to singles?

Okay, I’m way over my head now, I don’t care to get into any more understanding about political theory or political science. I’ve said too much without knowing what I just said. (cf. other blog pundits: Jen, Christy, Jordon, Kottke)

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  1. I think the key to crafting a single clear message is that must be true.

    This time around I heard the democrats and republicans try out a lot of well-crafted messages but only a few were truthful. Many had that “well, what about…” feel to them. Many of the messages felt like their owners reeaallly wanted them to be true but most people can see right through that.

    A strong party will be one that can speak truth and say things that can’t be easily argued. But to do that well in this political climate would mean sacrificing a lot of things both parties hold dear.

    I guess this leads right into the whole “what is truth?” conversation.

    Anyway, thanks for the chance to opine.

  2. Natala says:

    This election left me feeling completely with out a good choice. I sometimes wished that a third person would pop up, and not play the same games. The further that it got into the election, the worse it all got. And on many things every thing started to blur. I think that what is needed, is clear thoughts, clear directions and clear, dare I say it, clear plans.
    I started to feel sick every time, either a democrat or republican, threw the words “I have a plan!” “Or, our plan is better”. Ok, great, show me, but in the end it was who said they had a plan, better than the other.
    Sometimes I think that improvement is not possible under the current political system we have. But that’s an entire new set of thoughts.
    Thanks for the thinking session DJ.

  3. enoch choi says:

    sorry, got too busy with bc iii to comment, but your post today kicked me in the butt.

    the ironic thing is that i think the democratic party (which i belong to) is the one that does care about particularly christian moral values of caring for the poor, but of recent years has lost much of their support due to pandering to policies of the extreme left.