Jackie Calmes is getting a lot of crap from people in a front page post but there is no need to shoot the messenger.
You know I love ya, kos, but Calmes is, unfortunately, right.
Instead of making fun of her and blasting her, we have to figure out a way around that sad but true political reality. And fast.
I firmly believe, and have said so for many years here, that the main reason The Blue Team keeps losing elections is because we are stuck in the idea that all we have to do is present facts to people and that will get them to vote for us.
But the majority of people, and the majority of voters, don't live life that way.
They don't calmly look at facts and make reasonable decisions based on those facts. That particular approach to life is only engaged in by a relatively small minority of people, who mostly walk around frustrated because everyone else does not operate that way.
In fact, most people go out of their way to AVOID making decisions that way. They do not enjoy that kind of thinking and logical analysis of factual evidence. They do not solve problems for fun.
They associate that kind of thinking with school, and they hated school, because they weren't good at that kind of thinking and so they did not do well in school.
People avoid doing things they are not good at.
Their idea of fun is something presented to them that they do not have to think about at all, but can just absorb on an emotional level. Think of the TV they watch, the movies they see, their leisure time pursuits.
The only thing they are good at is feeling their own emotions, and they do not have very much emotional range. Screenplay writers will tell you that lust and fear are the two easiest emotions to evoke in the widest number of people. So, surprise, the Red Team motivates voters by playing to their fears.
An emotion-based pitch will always win over a analysis-based pitch because more people are capable of absorbing and understanding and responding to the emotional pitch than the analytical pitch.
Let's all read that aloud and keep repeating it until it sinks in:
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.
It is a question of sheer numbers.
We love (well, at least *I* love) Stephen Colbert because he makes fun of that phenomenon in a way that also entertains thinkers because we can hold both ideas in our heads at once--the parody he is presenting and the underlying facts that make the parody funny.
What makes him brilliant (put me down for greatest) is that you could ask the other demographic to watch him, tell them he is real, and they would not be able to detect it (except for the times when it is so funny he laughs at his own jokes and breaks character.
A big part of our problem is that we think things are simple that in fact require analysis, because analysis is such second nature to us that we don't even realize when we are doing it.
The newspapers and magazines we read and even the blog posts we write, contain vocabulary commensurate with our level of education (see what i did there). The New York Post and the Boston Herald and People Magazine and other periodicals aimed primarily at redvoters are written at a very very basic vocabulary level. It takes a lot of thought and intentionality to do this if it does not come naturally to you.
It is like a talented musician trying to deliberately play off key and out of tune to match the way most people sing.
Educated people have a skewed idea of just how basic common vocabulary is. And if someone does not understand a word you used, s/he will in all likelihood be embarassed to ask when it meant. They just stop listening to you.
Even something as simple as talking at a slower speed can be part of this. Chris Hayes, for example, talks at what we used to call New York Speed. He talks at the speed of freaking light sometimes, and I do not think he is even aware of it. Even though I process words pretty fast, I am aware that when he gets excited about something (especially when he is trying to make a point or get out a question in a panel segment) he starts dashing along like a high speed train, barely stopping to even breathe. Time is short and he wants to get it all in (!) and the facts he is presenting are important, but he talks so fast that it is almost a different dialect of English! You could not get most Fakes News watchers to listen to him for more than five minutes.
Rachel is doing better in the ratings right now and part of it may be the very overexplaining may people here have criticized. She makes the point over and over and over again so that if you didn't get it the first time you get it the third time. If people are watching her to learn about Christiegate, they are capable of following very complicated news stories because of the way she breaks it down. This is good. Moar plz.
Our biggest Blue Team framing success is working so well that it has the Rcons scrambling on the defensive to respond (and doing a bad job of it to boot).
Whoever came up with "War on Women" was brilliant.
It is brilliant because 1) it does not need explaining, 2) it touches a raw nerve in lots of women and in some men as well, 3) it drives the other side crazy.
It has the added advantage of being backed up with the facts.
But even if it only met the first three criteria, it would be a successful political frame.
We need similar framing for "give America a raise" and "demand creates jobs", good frames that don't have emotional resonance (yet).
We language composers, we message musicians, must learn to craft simpler melodies that untrained people can sing. And be happy if they get close to the right tune, even if they are singing a little bit off key.
Use simpler language, including speaking at a slower speed. Give the listener's mind time to absorb and understand the words you have just said.
Bottom line: it is sad but true that if you are explaining you are losing. If the message is not immediately clear, you are losing.
A ten word explanation is too long. They used to have a seven syllable rule. But now that's too long too. Three words. Two words. That is the mass attention span we are dealing with.
We must use political language that does not require ANY explanation.
We must use words to which common people bring their own meaning. (If I really have to list examples, that proves we aren't practiced enough at knowing what those kinds of words are.)
We must use frames that push emotional buttons in people. It's easiest to take advantage of people's existing emotional frames and attach our message to them. But this requires knowing people well enough to know how simply their emotional universe is constructed. Pleasure is better than pain. Mine is better than not-mine. Simple is better than complicated.
Note that this does not mean we have to lie! We just need to find ways to present the truth in easily digestible ways to people who do not think for a living, do not enjoy problem solving, and never learned (or do not enjoy using) analytical reasoning skills.
The Blue Team MUST learn how to do more of this. This year. Now.
And the Blue Team must stop dismissing the idea that doing this is necessary.