“People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” – Zig Ziglar
Most people do not know about Zig Ziglar, a businessman who gained his greatest fame later in his life as a motivational speaker. His well-known observation regarding the all-too-human disconnection between logic and emotion when making a purchase perhaps pertains to a great deal more than our decisions about which bar of soap to buy.
In these stressful and confusing times, I believe his observation is also pertinent to the puzzle of our nation’s Presidential politics—and why the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is so much closer than the chattering class could have possibly imagined.
The talking heads pontificate a great deal of the time about the policies, proposals, and personalities of each party and their candidates, but all of this talk may be entirely beside the point when it comes to how we will make up our minds when casting our votes. Particularly in a time of change and anger, people vote with their hearts—not their heads—and to presume otherwise is to continue to misunderstand the forces that will likely determine the outcome of this election.
Think of the candidates. Hillary Clinton is your archetypal policy wonk, an Ivy League lawyer who whacks her opponents over the noggin with a briefing book and expects them to submit to her superior logic. Donald Trump is, on the other hand, the guy at the end of the bar who is the master of the slam-dunk put-down, talks right over you when you attempt to argue—and smirks at your frustration.
In a high school debate, the earnest and well-prepared student typically wins, but we live in a world that is not always run by high school debate champs.
The polarities of fear and hope will likely play more of a role in this election that any policy espoused by either of the candidates, and the conventions just held by each party offered starkly contrasting viewpoints regarding the state of our nation. We are—depending on whom you believe—marching toward a bright future or neck deep in the mud. It is almost impossible to believe that both the Democrats and Republicans are even talking about the same nation, but such is the wonder of cherry picking your facts to support your particular narrative.
Therefore, all the “facts” aren’t going to matter much because who knows what they all really mean. Besides, just as all politics are local—so are all “facts”. If the government proclaims that jobs are being created and incomes are rising, that “fact” will matter little to someone who is unemployed and lacking prospects.
Voters will fear Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, or they will pin their hopes on one or the other. Our gut instincts will tell us to vote for the policy wonk or the bar room brawler, and all the talk in the world will likely do little to change our minds.