Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hillary, beware the Ides of March!

Shakespeare did a very interesting thing in his play "Julius Caesar." He juxtaposed the conspirators after Caesar's bloody assasination in a scene which teaches a valuable life lesson: when it comes to politics, people may think with their brains, but they'll act in accordance with their emotion.

In this scene, after killing Caesar, Cassius and Brutus stand before the people and deliver well-reasoned speeches condoning the killing and effectively winning over the crowd. People stood around going, "Well, it sounds like they did the right thing." While they are shrugging their shoulders, Marc Anthony leaps upon the stage and begins his famous oratory, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." He rants, he pulls on the consciences of his listeners, he implores them to consider the heinous murder of a good man (arguably so). The listeners become whipped up into a mob that chases Cassius and Brutus out of town and a bloody battle begins.

And with this scene comes the explanation for the force that is Barack Obama. Obama isn't saying anything much different from Hillary, policy-wise, that is. The difference is that while Hillary does a stand-up job of explaining her well-reasoned policies and how she plans to implement them, Barack appeals directly to the places where people are hurting, where they have anxiety, where they fear things may go wrong. He also invokes historical references, inspiring a nostalgic sense of patriotism, whipping people up into a frenzy of emotion. I like what Barack says, but what scares me is that here's a guy with scant political experience on a national stage with a noticable lack of well-reasoned policies and explanations of how he intends to implement these policies.

However, what all of this bodes for Hillary is trouble. Barack is beating her up over her vote for the Iraqi invasion and her "ready to be President on day one" refrain is not hitting home, at least not at the polls. She's a smart woman, but she's facing a growing emotionally-charged movement, and if we learned anything from Shakespeare's infamous scene, it is that emotion wins over a crowd like no other. A review of the 2004 debate between Bush and Kerry is a prime example; Bush was impassioned and appealed to voter's emotions. Kerry was logical and appealed to voter's common sense. The outcome speaks for itself.

So, in politics as in life, emotion is much more motivating than logic, and that is a lesson Hillary needs to learn quickly if she wants to stay in this race.


shortensweet said...

Ya know, maybe it is very unamerican of me, but I don't get heated about the presidental elections until after the primarys. Then I can't get enough of it.
To me, it's kinda like a buffet, there are too many things to choose from for me to be satisfied.

bunnyjo georg said...

I agree. Primaries are somewhat helter-skelter and then there's always the disappointment as candidates drop like flies. For me, a lot of the primary season is spent shaking my head going, "What is HE still doing in there?" To me, if winning is so far off you might as well be running in the Phillippines, why run? RON PAUL!

Big Plain V said...

I've felt the same since Jerry Brown dropped out in 92. There's no use picking a pony til the home stretch.

bunnyjo georg said...

That's so're still traumatized from the 92 elections! If only Jerry Brown knew! ;)

Anonymous said...

I like politics but I get sick of the pandering, like you sayd emotions rule the day. No matter the voting record of the candidate too many people are swept up in a stirring speach and forget about how little any of this is going to matter after the right hand goes up in front of the congressional steps. I am trying to back someone but its slim pickings these days...I think things would work better if there were no president, or congress and senate.