• Sean II

    Here’s an interesting question for students of voter behavior:

    Voters normally prefer bullshit, and inflict a severe penalty on candor. This is why we have the concept of the Kinsley gaffe. This is why our political process is all but closed to anyone who won’t speak that weasel language where, for example, you announce the firing of a top aide after a public fiasco by saying “he has decided to spend more time with his family”, where you call dead people “casualties”, problems “challenges”, etc.

    The current cycle presents a shocking exception to this otherwise bet-the-house-on-it rule. Sanders doesn’t really speak the sterile language he’s supposed to, and Trump doesn’t speak it at all. Compared to either of them, Perot ’92 looks like a cautious product of mainstream campaign consultancy.

    This is genuinely weird. It’s freakin’ April, and the Presidential field still includes two guys who mostly seem to blurt out whatever’s on their mind, while conspicuously failing to project any sense of being housebroken in the manner usually required of anyone running for an executive position above sheriff.

    There are papers to be written, on the massive shift in political language alone!

    • Adam Minsky

      Not only do Sanders and Trump, seem to shoot from the hip, they also both appear to genuinely love campaigning. This greatly distinguishes them from a number of their predecessors -George H.W. Bush and Mitt Romney spring to mind- for whom campaigning seemed truly painful. Trump has basically become the anti-Romney. Instead of trying to convince people he’s a regular guy, the Donald boasts about his wealth. Where Romney would awkwardly attempt to engage voters in coffee shops, Trump eschews retail politics altogether.
      As entertaining as this campaign has been, it doesn’t bode well for the Republic. Food fight style debates are good for ratings but not much else. Dr. Thomas Sowell recently suggested that the current debate format be replaced by individual hour long interviews of candidates in a Charlie Rose style format. People lacking the attention span to view such in depth interviews should be encouraged not to vote.

    • “There are papers to be written…” Or a book! If you haven’t read it, I *highly* recommend Martin Gurri’s “Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium” (a bargain at $2.99 on Kindle). (I read it about 2 years ago when it was originally published; it’s lately been promoted by people like Tyler Cowen, Arnold Kling, and Virginia Postrel.)

      For a quick taste, read Gurri’s latest blog post for how his thesis applies to Donald Trump. In particular Gurri is very good on explaining why this is not just an American phenomenon. (He started out writing about the Arab Spring and the Iranian Green Movement.)

      • Sean II

        Thanks for the recommendation. Very interesting.

    • Jameson Graber

      “Voters normally prefer bullshit, and inflict a severe penalty on candor.” What you get with Sanders and especially Trump is very candid bullshit. I guess people find that refreshing.