The argument–very much in the Lakoff tradition–is to bring in the new cognitive neurosciences into the political sphere. Now I have seen some serious problems with this view taken en toto (because it tends towards emotivism and relativism in my view) but as a partial piece of the puzzle it can not be discounted. The results speak for themselves in the recent history of presidential elections.
As a disclaimer, Westen is quite up front about being a Democrat, but that doesn’t affect his research. It’s just that he’s using his researching to try to help the Democratic party. It’s quite easy to separate out his findings from his political standpoint.
At around minute 25 he discusses the political scientific findings on order of importance in an election (I mentioned part of this in the last post). They are in decreasing order of importance:
1. How voters feel about party and its principles
2. How voters feel about the candidate
3. How voters feel about the candidate’s personal attributes
4. How they feel towards candidates policies
5. How they feel towards facts about candidates policies.
Something should leap out immediately with Westen discusses. Democrats post-McGovern mold (other than Carter and Clinton–hint hint) always started from the bottom and try to work up whereas Republicans start from the top (the most important) and then work down. (more…)