Richard Nixon in 1967, a Washingtonian Magazine article in 1984, and an experience with political bloggers in 2009, all came into alignment as I was thinking back on last week's Iowa Republican Debate.
The hardest lesson for Republicans to embrace is the reality that persuasion depends on emotion, not reason.
Just as I was dismayed in 2009 to hear a political blogger say that all they needed to do was get out the facts (click here to read the original post), I was disheartened that the Iowa debate produced few moments that connected emotionally enough to be remembered. Actually, I'd have to think hard to remember even one.
I compare that to the first time I heard Mike Huckabee speak. It was in 2007 and I still recall in some detail, and still feel the emotions I felt, when he related the story of going to town with his father to see the governor speak, and a second story about a school teacher and veterans.Two clear memories after 4 years; none after 5 days.
Which leads to the Washingtonian article. I was going through a scrapbook of interviews I did in my early days. One was with the Washingtonian in April 1984. In an accompanying article, I came across advice political consultant William Gavin gave to Richard Nixon in 1967 in preparation for his 1968 presidential campaign.
It was true then. It's true now. And if Republicans want to win back the Senate and White House, they need to pay heed.
Voters are basically lazy, basically uninterested in making an effort to understand what we're talking about.
Reason requires a high degree of discipline, of concentration; impression is easier.
Reason pushes the viewer back, it assaults him, it demands that he agree or disagree; impression can envelop him, invite him in, without making an intellectual demand.
Let's see how they do in the next debate.