It is my observation and experience that logic and rational arguments on the one hand and emotional arguments on the other are like parallel lines which never meet. If logical argument is pitted against emotions, a meeting of minds is not possible, nobody is persuaded and nobody “wins”. It strikes me that the US Presidential election is going to be between one candidate trying to get the electorate to respond to emotions and the other to argument. But it would be wrong to think that an apparently reasoned argument is always more correct or “better” than an emotional one. Intuition, gut-feelings and hunches are often correct and are all essentially examples of “emotional” decision making. Even economic decisions – which one might expect to be very rational – are nearly always trumped by the “mood” in the markets.
Trump may be exaggerating the gloom and doom but nobody in their right minds would argue that all is sweetness and light. And it would seem from the anger and frustration and powerlessness that is abroad among the US electorate, that there is a revolt against the direction that conventional, correct politics has taken the US. I see no other explanation for the “anti-establishment” wave present, not only in the US, but globally. There is electoral capital to be made – globally – by tapping into this “mood” that the wrong path has been followed for far too long.
Now, the US Presidential election is boiling down to be a fight between evoking a “mood” on the one hand against an argued presentation of “issues”. The contrast between the two candidates is stark. Hillary Clinton’s strength does not lie in appealing to emotions to evoke a mood of sweetness and light to counter Trump’s gloom and doom. Donald Trump, however, is not the best person for presenting a rational, argued position on a complex issue.
For the US electorate I think it is going to be a classic stand-off between heart and head, between impulse buying against a purchase based on a cost-benefit analysis. I don’t think that one is necessarily “better” than the other. I have made some impulse buys which were disasters and others which were inspired. In the corporate world I hardly ever made large purchases which were not based on some form of cost-benefit analysis. But I also remember how assumptions were skewed to cover the “intangibles” so that the analysis eventually matched the “gut feeling”. Apparently “reasoned” decisions were actually emotional ones.
Trump can’t do issues – but he can do “mood”. “We should have gone to Mars and not to the Middle East” is all about evoking a mood. “Make America safe again/ proud again / great again” is a naked appeal to return to “the good old days” which only ever exist in the rosy fog of nostalgia. In trying to evoke “mood”, Trump can ignore getting bogged down in policy details at which he is not particularly adept. Clinton on the other hand, may try occasionally to evoke emotions, but that always seems very contrived and could be counter-productive. She will probably be far better off to stick to reasoned argument.
In November it is going to be mood versus issues. Trump can’t do “issues” and Clinton can’t do “mood”. For the US voter it is, I think, going to be the emotional choice between a high-risk, high-gain Trump or the reasoned choice of a low-risk, low-gain Clinton. Things have crystallised but not changed much since I wrote 3 months ago:
After 8 years of a lack-lustre and indecisive, risk-averse Barack Obama who promised much only to deceive, Hillary Clinton offers “more of the same”. She is as “establishment” as it is possible to be. She represents the safe choice. There is no chance of any kind of greatness, only of a slight improvement or a gentle decline. She removes the possibility of a “high gain” scenario.
But I see two possible outcomes with Donald Trump. The first is that he will be the unmitigated disaster that the media and the politically correct expect. In this scenario, the US will become a harder, more bigoted country, less tolerant of minorities and less compassionate. It will become divisive in domestic affairs and inept and dangerous in its foreign policy. It will become a sin to remain poor. …. The second scenario is that US domestic and foreign policy will become entirely “trade” oriented. International friendships and alliances will have to have a cost-benefit analysis. Public spending and government jobs will be drastically down-sized. Bureaucrats will be subject to performance indicators. It will not be a sin to be rich. The ideological shift will be to “people as they deserve” rather than to “people as they desire”.