Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reason Versus Emotion

Micheal Gerson wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post recently.
"Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now," [Obama] recently told a group of Democratic donors in Massachusetts, "and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared."

Let's unpack these remarks.

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents "facts and science and argument." His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader -- the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains -- the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

The neocortical presidency destroys the possibility of political dialogue. What could Obama possibly learn from voters who are embittered, confused and dominated by subconscious evolutionary fears? They have nothing to teach, nothing to offer to the superior mind. Instead of engaging in debate, Obama resorts to reductionism, explaining his opponents away.
He goes on to call Obama a snob.

But, Obama has a point. The Republicans and the teabaggers are using fear and emotion to scare the American people to vote Republican. The level of hatred on the right has reached truly frightening proportions. For instance,

This video is nothing but emotional appeal, with no logic or reason involved. The right must resort to such tactics because if they tried logic or reason, they would lose. And, unfortunately, emotion works in this country. Most people make their decisions in life emotionally, and Republicans know it. Perhaps the Dems, should try it. After all, reason isn't working.


  1. That video is terrible! Interesting how the author of the op-ed says Obama is arrogant when he says something that is undeniably true. What destroys the possibility of political dialogue is crazy people like the Tea Partiers - and their inability to reason! You can't have decent debate with people who are mind-numbingly deluded.

  2. @Sarah: "You can't have decent debate with people who are mind-numbingly deluded." And, the right wing wants to keep the teabaggers deluded. As long as they keep drinking the kool-aid, they won't notice that they are fighting against their own self interest.