Politics12

Descartes Error                              Antonio Damasio           Jan 2008
The Political Brain                         Drew Westen                 Jan 2008

     
Descartes' Error           Antonio Damasio           Jan 2008
            Subtitled: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

Preface  About 1900 one would have expected emotion to come under serious scientific study.  Darwin had published material on this.  James, Lange, Freud and Sherrington had done significant work.  But more traditional biological science ignored all of this.  His 1994 publication of this book was the first real effort to merge the two areas.  Significant work has been done since.  He answers several questions that people have raised (and misunderstood) about his work.  It is now very clear that emotion is a part of reason and that without emotion, reason does not work very well (with perhaps the exceptions of parts of math and physics, perhaps).  Progress is being made today (in 2005) but there are even more questions than answers.

Introduction
 He was raised to believe in separate neural systems for reason and emotion.  They are separate and reason was the most important.  Then as a neurologist and psychologist he was presented with a man who was entirely healthy and very successful until a neurological disease ravaged a specific sector of his brain.  The patient was entirely rational and intelligent, everything about him suggested a highly successful intelligent person.  Except he could not experience feelings and he could not make valid decisions.  Twenty more years of clinical and experimental work convinced the author that the ability to experience emotion is critical in the process of valid reasoning.

It is abundantly clear that an excess of emotion can have a negative effect on our ability to reason.  He is suggesting that a lack of the proper amount of emotion can also have a very detrimental effect on our ability to reason.  He is not attempting to present a complete theory of human cognition, that is for those who follow, he is expressing his opinion and as a scientist he is making his point using scientific observation and experiment.

He tries to make three points in the book.  The first is that reason is not as pure as some think it is.  Emotions and feelings inhabit the same areas of the brain and are all involved in our existence.  The second is that feelings are extremely important and that feeling is not an elusive mental quality attached to an object but a direct perception of a specific landscape, the body.  Feelings are our glimpse into the inner workings of our body and our status with regard to everything around us.  The third is that our brain is the center of our body and our experiencing of the rest of the world.  Our brain exists to maintain out body, we interact with the environment as a whole, we cannot separate our brain from our body, and the phenomena that we call a mind is dependent upon a brain acting within a body.  We cannot understand mind without equally understanding the brain and the body acting within an environment.

Part I
C1  Unpleasantness in Vermont
 He starts with the story of Phineas P. Gage starting on Sept . 13, 1848.  He was a construction foreman on the Rutland & Burlington Railroad supervising a crew laying track.  He is supervising the drilling of blasting holes, he is distracted and before an employ can pour sand on the blasting powder Gage starts tamping it.  It explodes blowing the tamping bar through Gage's cheek, into his brain, and 100 feet away after passing through his skull.  He is stunned but fully awake, he is helped into a cart and taken 3/4 of a mile to a hotel.  There he gets out of the wagon and waits an hour for a doctor to arrive.  The doctor cleanses the would regularly and removes at least one abscess.  In less than two months Gage is declared cured.  The doctor says, "I dress him, God healed him."

Unfortunately Gage was not the upcoming young man he used to be.  Other than loosing the vision in his left eye he was completely well physically but his emotional restraint was gone.  His social "cooth" was gone, he could not maintain social relationships, he could not hold a job for an extended period of time.  He was featured at Barnum's Museum in New York,  he worked in South America for several years in horse farms and stagecoach driving.  In 1860, in failing health, he came back and lived with his mother and sister in San Francisco.  On May 20, 1861 he suffers an epileptic convulsion which never completely ended until he died on May 21.

The author goes on to discuss several considerations of people with regard to Gage's injuries.  He then discusses phrenology and the contributions of Franz Joseph Gall to brain localization and its relationship to the discussions about Gage.  

C2  Gage's Brain Revealed  Five years after Gage's death his body was exhumed and his skull and the tamping iron were sent to the Harvard Medical school.  Recently Hanna Damasio, the author's wife, and others did a complete imaging analysis of the path of the tamping rod and the projected damage to Gage's brain.  They found the the tamping rod did no damage to the areas of the brain related to motor function or language but the prefrontal cortices in the ventral and inner surfaces of both hemispheres.

C3  A Modern Phineas Gage  He describes much more fully the case mentioned in the Introduction.  A young man with a brain tumor that destroyed brain tissue in an location very similar to Gage's injury.  In many ways the cases are similar but of course he could study the living man in this case.  He describes the results of many test and his responses to questions.

C4  In Colder Blood  He continues the discussion of the same patient and adds descriptions of other similar cases and animal models.  Comments on drugs acting on the brain, you have to know where in the brain the chemical is acting.  

Part II
C5  Assembling an Explanation
 To make a decision in a social environment:
  1. One must have knowledge about the social situation and about your own self.
  2. The processes of emotion and feeling are part of the neural machinery for biological regulation.
  3. This knowledge depends on numerous systems located in separate brain regions.
  4. Knowledge can only be retrieved in a distributed manner from sites in man parallel systems.
  5. These facts must be held active in a broad parallel display for an extended period of time.
How the body and brain interact:
  1. Nearly every part of the body sends signals to the brain via the peripheral nerves.
  2. Chemicals arising from body activity reach the brain via the bloodstream and either influence the brain directly or through special brain sites.
  3. The brain can act, through nerves, on all parts of the body using various pathways.
  4. The brain also acts on the body by manufacturing or ordering the manufacture of chemical substances in the bloodstream such as hormones, transmitters, and modulators.
All organisms respond to their environment.  The simplest by chemical action and movement.  As organisms become more complicated their actions require more and more intermediate processing.  He defines a mind as the ability to form neural representations which can become images, be manipulated by thought, and influence behavior by helping predict the future, plan accordingly, and choose the next action.  This is the central problem of neurobiology as he sees it.

The rest of the chapter discusses some of the issues and problems of viewing the brain and body in this manner.

C6  Biological Regulation and Survival  A complex chapter describing a sample of the many chemical and neurological feedbacks and regulations that allow our body/brain to operate and thrive in a world with many dangers.  He goes a little overboard on avoiding biological determinism in an environment that includes computers which can ONLY flip switches, save the results, and make decisions based on the positions of these switches.  Most of us know what they can do, how much more can the incredibly more complex body do.

C7  Emotions and Feelings  Our emotions are intimately connected with the state of the body - you just can't get mad without tensing your muscles, etc.  More relationships between emotions and feeling and the state of the nervous and endocrine system.  The difficulty of "faking" emotions - schools of acting and how/why they work.  Again, a lot of chemical and neurological detail.

C8  The Somatic-Marker Hypothesis  The purpose of reasoning is deciding is selecting a response option that is a word, a sentence, or some combination of them in connection with a given situation.  He postulates an example of three decisions a) your blood sugar level decreases, b) an object is falling, do you ignore it (raindrop), catch it (a ball) or jump out of the way (a piano), or c) you are a stage governor and you must decide whether or not to commute the sentence of a convicted murderer.  The third problem is solved in additional ways from the first two but the same neurobiological core is involved in all three.  The question of differing types of intelligences as for example social intelligence vs. mathematical intelligence as on possibility.

Somatic-marker hypothesis:  You are presented with a problem and "instantly" multiple key components of possible solutions are visualized.  But before you apply any type of reasoned analysis to the possible solutions, some of these solutions generate a gut feeling of unpleasantness.  This may have originated in an unfortunate choice in the past but now it serves to immediately reduce the possible solutions that you consider.  You end up with fewer alternatives to consider and it takes less effort to come up with a solution.  

In computer terms if I wanted to create a somatic-marker I would create a weighted list of activities and their outcomes.  They would be given a weight depending the desirability (reinforcement value) of the outcome - from very negative to very positive.  Each time the activity was repeated the weight would be modified.  

He discusses possible locations in the brain for the processing of somatic-marker information, how these areas interact with other areas in the brain, and what this would mean for overall intelligent behavior.

Part III
C9  Testing the Somatic-Marker Hypothesis
 Again, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuro(behavior?).  They first exposed normal and Gage like damaged patients to emotionally disturbing photos, basic physiological responses were very different.  In the gambling experiment they set up gambling games.  Both normal and damaged patients liked them but the normal quickly learned to minimize their losses but the damaged patients often never really learned to avoid plays that would cost them large amounts of money.  Both groups learned but the damaged patients had more problems with longer term learning, the kept coming back to the riskier plays.  They seem insensitive to the future, he uses the term "myopia for the future."

With further instrumentation the normal group would begin having a galvanic skin response (GSR) to potential bad plays but the damaged subjects never developed this.  It wasn't that they had no memory of possible results, they just didn't seem to care.  Poor memory would suggest, "Out of sight, out of mind."  With them it was more of, "Out of sight, in mind, but never mind."

C10  The Body-Minded Brain  Again, the brain and the body are both parts of the same organism and cannot be split off from each other.  He hypothecises that the brain evolved to maintain the body and protect it.  It makes sense to assume the brain could do this most simply and efficiently to map within itself the body.  The more the body and brain were interconnected the better this mapping would be.  He explores this by a thought experiment, imagine you are walking alone on a dark night and you hear footsteps behind you.  You were in a calm state.  Immediately you become alerted.  Your muscles tense, your pupils widen, your brain becomes more active, you speed up your walking.  Before you have any idea what the footsteps are both your body and your brain prepare for action and increased capacity for sensing your environment.  

C11  A Passion for Reasoning  To master a subject you must be passionate about it.  A question about Descartes most famous line, "I think, therefore I am."  The inscription which he choose for his tombstone was one that he used frequently, "He who hid well, lived well."  Is this a disclaimer of his "I think" line?  The author doesn't believe so.  He thinks that, "I think ..." was exactly what Descartes meant.  Damasio believes that this is the biggest error to be passed down to modern thought.  Why is this so bad, others have made greater errors, Plato for example.  The main reason is that we have known that Plato was wrong for many years.  Descartes Error still haunts us in terms of (religion) and western medicine and in the understanding of the human mind.

Postscriptum  Many physicians have deep interests in the humanities.  However the medical schools that trained them tend to ignore this data.  Western medicine glories in the expansion of internal medicine and surgical subspecialties.  Neurology began as a subspecialty of internal medicine.

Most medical schools offer courses on the sick mind as found in mental disease but very few offer any instruction on the normal mind.  Why do students learn about psychopathology without ever learning about normal psychology?  He believes that much of this stems from a Cartesian view of humanity.  The mind has been left out of medical education because it was seen as the province of religion and philosophy.  Even after it became the focus of a specific discipline, psychology, it has been very slow to enter medicine and biology.

Concepts like the placebo effect and that psychological disturbances can cause disease of the body are finally becoming accepted.  The Cartesian based neglect of the mind has hindered the practice of medicine and with the increase in medical knowledge and the increase in subspecialties it is not getting better fast.  The increase in alternative medicine is probably a response to this lack.  

There are 21 pages of notes and references, 5 pages of further reading, and 12 pages of index.

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The Political Brain                         Drew Westen                 Jan 2008
            Subtitle: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation

A review by Howard Dean, Chairman, Democratic Party  ". . . In 2008, we will win the presidency if our candidate reads and acts on this book."  He said roughly the same about George Lakoff's  Don't Think of an Elephant, he was right in both cases.

Introduction  To understand this book read and understand Descartes Error by Antonio Damasio, the previous book note.  The view that many people have had of the mind since the 18th century, that of a dispassionate mind, is simply not true.  In American politics for the last 50 years the party that has embraced this view of the mind the most passionately has been the Democratic Party.  They have been very busy pushing this view and loosing elections.  To be sure there have been exceptions, primarily extremely bad Republican performance or Democrats who paid lip service to the conventional wisdom and did it their way and won.  

During the final months of the 2004 elections Weston and his colleagues but together a research study to examine the brain processing of political partisans.  They had four hunches, or more formally hypotheses, that they wanted to test.  
  1. Threatening information would activate neural circuits associated with negative emotional states.
  2. Activations in a part of the brain heavily involved in regulating emotions.
  3. A brain in conflict - activations in a region known to be involved in monitoring and resolving conflicts.
  4. They did not expect to see activations in a regions that had been "turned on" in prior reasoning experiments.
They presented their subjects with six statements showing clear inconsistencies by Kerry, six by Bush, and six by politically neutral figures.  Some of these statements were fictitious but they were made to seem real by embedding them in actual statements of Bush or Kerry.  As the subjects were lying in the scanner they were shown slides.  The first would be a "normal" statement from a candidate and the next would be a contradictory statement by the same candidate.

They were surprised when all four of their hypotheses were supported.  When partisans saw inconsistencies made by the opposite candidate, they reported major conflicts, close to 4 on their 4 point scale.  However when they viewed an inconsistency made by their candidate they only reported a minor conflict, about 2 on their 4 point scale.  The portions of the brain that they expected to see activated were all activated.  And they didn't see much activation of areas normally associated with reasoning tasks.  

Their brains did something the researchers did not expect.  When politically biased subjects observed their candidate making contradictory statements the circuits involving negative emotions turned off and those involving positive emotions turned on.  Their brains weren't "satisfied" by making them feel good, they "actively" worked to make them feel better.  The reward circuits overlap substantially with those activated when drug addicts get their "fix", a new meaning to the term political junkie.  

So what for Democrats?  Don't worry about offending hard core conservatives, they will never listen to you anyway.  Anything you can say will be twisted by their brain into supporting their own feelings.  Their minds won't bend to the left.  The positive message is: The political brain is an emotional brain.  It is generally agreed that about 1/3 of Americans are Democrats, 1/3 are Republicans, and 1/3 are undecided or independent.  You have to worry about the undecided voter and the best way to sway him/her is via their emotions.  

"We can't change the structure of the political brain, which reflects millions of years of evolution.  But we can change the way we appeal to it."

Part I  Mind, Brain, and Emotion in Politics  
C1  Winning States of Mind
 A comparison of two political ads, one from the Clinton-Bush race and one from the Kerry-Bush race.  Clinton told a simple story of a kid from Hope who had a dream, met his idol, and is now running for president.  Everything was upbeat, fit the story and there were no negative parts.  Kerry told a story of privilege (his word) and a Northeastern liberal intellectual (Harvard).  Clinton never mentioned his education (Harvard) and neither did Bush (Harvard also).  Facial expressions were better in the Clinton ad.  Kerry (and/or his handlers) just didn't understand that you have to connect with voters.

A brief segment of the second Bush-Gore debate:  Bush gave a sort answer.  Gore gave a long technical answer.  Bush came back with a folks, self deprecating answer.  He dodged Gore's good question and talked about special rights for gays.  Weston then wrote a short response that Gore could have made.  Republicans have understood for some time that emotions are more important than reason, have thought for 30 years, except for Clinton, that reason is the most important.  Actually this had made them less likely to speak the truth, if you believe that "the issues" are the most important, you are more likely to follow the opinion polls instead of your internal compass, and voters will pick this up as weak, waffling, pandering, and unprincipled -- and they will be right.

Careful attention to policy is good government, good election politics is showing the voters that you have principles and that they can trust you to make good decisions (policies) in their behalf.

He gives several examples of hard hitting emotional politics from Democrats, now Senator Claire McCaskill, Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak and Virginia Senator Jim Webb.  

C2  Rational Minds, Irrational Campaigns  More history of dispassionate reason and how our politics have changed since our countries founding.  An example of how Kerry was trying to convince a Pennsylvania coal miner to vote for him.  A counter example of a brain damaged patient from Descartes' Error.  The tired, hungry miner waiting for dinner will not obsess on the decision, he will pick the guy who sounds like he can be trusted.  

Description of a debate item, Medicare, from the first Gore-Bush debate.  Gore was perfect with the numbers, Bush made it seem that the only thing Gore cared about was the numbers.  Description of one of FDR's fireside chats, description of part of a 1992 Bush-Clinton debate, how Clinton handled the Jennifer Flowers problem, multiple repetitions of why Democrats need to use emotion to convince voters that Democrats are trustworthy.

C3  The Evolution of the Passionate Brain Examples, Martin Luther King and the Selma marches, the response of LBJ.  The evolution of the brain stem and the early linkage between senses and feelings resulting in better control of our environment.  The Johnson (vs. Goldwater) "Daisy" ad.  The ability of the amygdala to respond to subliminal stimulation (the more "logical" areas of the brain can't process information that fast).  Probable subliminal ad by Bush in 2000, functionally unconscious background (Bush standing in front of a screen with the theme of his speech in the background "Spreading Freedom" etc.), this is technically not subliminal but it only registers peripherally.  Music is excellent for setting the mood - the right emotional tone.

The anatomy and function of the cerebrum.  Democrats seem to appeal to the "blue brain", the coasts of the cortex and Republicans to the "red brain" in the middle.  Patients with damage to the frontal emotion circuits often show symptoms like Democrats - ability to reason well but not react well to emotionally laden situations.  Comparison to Phineas Gage some of Damasio's patients.
The "Willie Horton" and "Revolving Door" ad of the Bush - Dukakis campaign.  Both were carefully designed to generate fear and loathing in the voters - and they worked.  Westen suggested an approach that Dukakis could have tried.  Dukakis never recovered from these attacks.

C4  The Emotions Behind the Curtain  The Dukakis "What if Kitty were raped and murdered?" question.  Dukakis heard a question about the death penalty and answered with statistical data.  The audience heard, "Are you a man?", "Do you have a heart?", and "Are we similar enough that I could trust you to represent me and my values as president?"

What is the alternative to the dispassionate vision of the mind?  It is a passionate version of mind, brain, and emotion which is based on the ideas of Darwin, Skinner, and Freud.

Darwin: Natural selection (genes) select for organisms that lookout for themselves and those who share their genes.  Our most powerful drives revolve around survival, reproduction, survival of our kin, and the wellbeing of others in our group.  How Reagan's "Morning again in America" ad touched on all of these factors as well as a subtle but scathing attack on Mondale.  He presents an alternative story line that is even more evolution based.

Skinner:  Skinner didn't believe in theorizing about the mind.  He put reward and punishment into the psychological literature.  Later theorists applied his ideas to feelings, emotion, and brain activity.  

Freud:  He as well as Skinner was deeply indebted to Darwin.  He put back in the emotions that Skinner left out.  Also much more of the "ancient brain" connection.  Freud and Skinner didn't agree on much but they both agreed on the importance of associations.  

A description of a child putting these together.  When his daughter was 3 1/2 she attended preschool at a temple.  One evening before dinner she asked, "Daddy, where is God?"  Not being much of theologian Westen responded, "Well, no one is really sure, but most people think he's everywhere, watching over us."  "Well," she responded rather irritated, "he must not be watching very well."  Perplexed, Westen asked what she meant. "Because of President Bush," she responded emphatically, her disgust circuits obviously firing widely.  His wife flashed a look of consternation although Westen experienced considerable pride at her ability to put together what she was learning at preschool with the political bias she was internalizing at home.  A couple of hours later she made her daddy proud again when she asked, "Why does God let bad things happen?" and then wondered how God could let Bush be president.

A short description of framing by making ocean and moon obvious and then asking a subject to name the first detergent that came to mind => Tide.  A central aspect of the art of political persuasion is creating, solidifying, and activating networks that create primarily positive feelings toward your candidate or party and negative feelings toward the opposition.  Republicans are very good at doing this after spending billions of dollars over 40 years on think tanks devoted to honing the conservative message.  

One of the implications of Freud's theories, one that he could not quite accept, was that emotional processes can be activated and shaped outside of awareness.  A partial example of this is a Nixon ad in 1968 that had no voice and no text.  It only had pictures of Humphrey at the Chicago Convention as well as many pictures of violence from the preceding months

C5  Special Interests in Mind  The chapter starts with a quote from Francis Bacon in 1620.  It starts out, "The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion . . . draws all things else to support and agree with it."  Once we have made up our minds, "Don't confuse me with the facts."  As Bacon said in 1620, there is nothing new in this chapter.  The only thing it adds is a number of examples - mostly very bad examples - of people who have made up their minds and refusing to admit the existence of more information.  

An example of how Republicans and Democrats saw Bush's Second Inagural Speech.  A description of how people determine the content of ambiguous messages (THE CAT vs TAE CHT for an "artistic" font).  Bush I and II vs. Saddam compared to Hitler but not African leaders.  Republicans and Democrats and how they saw the Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas hearings vs. Clinton and Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey,  and Monica Lewinsky.  How to predict the votes of Supreme Court Justices by knowing who appointed them.  Predicting responses to Abu Ghraib prison torture stories.  Peoples opinions of manual vs. machine ballot counting for the Florida vote.  They were able to predict peoples attitudes about vote counting 83.5% of the time using cognitive and emotional data but using only the emotional data they could predict attitudes 83% of the time, i.e. factual data added nothing.  

In general they report that the dispassionate mind of the 18th century philosophers allows us to predict somewhere between .5% and 3% of the most important political decisions people make.

The statement of hope:  Even though 80% of the time peoples voting can be predicted without any knowledge of the actual truth that means that 20% of the population are influenced by actual data, and given how may elections are won by 2% or 3%.  That is enough to change the vote in many cases.  

Now, how do we change those voters minds?

C6  Trickle-up Politics  In 1952 the National Election Studies began as a database at the University of Michigan collecting data on every presidential and midterm election since.  In the elections between Eisenhower and Stevenson (1952 and 1956) the feelings of the voters towards the party and the candidates was the best predictor of voting.  This has not changed.  Between 1980 and 1996 less than 20% of voters voted for the candidate of the opposite party.   A later study showed that  could feel warm towards a candidate but also angry toward him.  And that positive and negative associations were more important than personal judgments about his personality and competence - feelings are more important than beliefs.  Also emotional judgments about personal characteristics are much more important than their positions on the issues.

The only time issues become important when voters are very emotionally involved, especial when they are anxious.  The issues that become important are those that relate to the voters interests (is it good for me and my family) and values.  This becomes really important in extraordinary times, such as with FDR and the depression.

In the 1930 a candidate for local office conducted a "field study".  A week before the election his workers distributed a leaflet with an emotional appeal, in another ward the leaflet had a carefully reasoned appeal, and in the third ward no leaflet was distributed as a control.  Votes increased 50% in the emotional ward, 33% in the rational ward, and 25% in the control ward.  In 1998 in Massachusetts a study was done in which an ad was shown to two groups of people.  In one group the music and images were bland, in the other they were emotionally threatening.  The emotional music and pictures produced much more anxiety or enthusiasm and the people were more likely to sigh up to vote or volunteer.

Example of the first Gore-Bush debate in 2000.  Bush mildly attacked Gore, Gore did not fight back, Gore still did not fight back, Bush then called Gore a liar, Gore said that he would not get into character or credibility attacks.  Southern men respond to attacks as a matter of honor.  When Gore backed down from a (verbal) fight he was seen as a coward and lost much of the south at that point.  Westen wrote a script that Gore could have used.  In 2004 made a speech where he was not listening to his handlers and it was a much better hard hitting speech.

Why don't / can't Democrats run emotionally compelling campaigns?
  1. Democrats are cerebral, especially Democratic strategists.  They tend to be intellectual, they read and think, they thrive on policy debates, arguments, statistics, and facts.  When they have a belief in the moral superiority of cerebral arguments they tend to come across as condescending.
  2. They believe that reason can provide means and ends.  Wrong - it can only provide means.  In evolution emotion came before intellect.  We are hard wired to love, hate, fear, and anger.  We respond faster and surer to these before we respond to statistics.
  3. Democrats believe that the effective use of emotion is inherently manipulative.  You can either tell the truth or lie with arguments and statistics just as well as you can with emotionally compelling words, images, and analogies.
  4. Many cerebral Democrats have a great discomfort in displaying emotion (in public?).  A clinical example of this is obsessional personality style, characterized by tone deafness to emotion, combined with viewing emotion as something irrelevant or bothersome.  If the do express emotion it is usually righteous indignation.  Another trait has been called "emotional avoidance".  Highly functional people who minimize their access to emotion (perhaps call it the Spock syndrome?)  They are often unable to notice or respond to emotional signals in others.  They are fundamentally handicapped by an emotional style that runs contrary to what is required, especially in the age of television.  
A hierarchy of goals that should guide every campaign that wants success.
  1. Define the party and its principles in a way that is emotionally compelling and tells a coherent story of what its members believe in and defines the other party and its values in ways that undermine its capacity to resonate emotionally with voters.
  2. An effective campaign to maximize positive and minimize negative feelings toward its candidate, and to encourage the opposite set of feelings toward the opponent.
  3. Manage feelings toward the candidates' personal characteristics.  Convince voters that your candidate is trustworthy, competent, empathic and capable of strong leadership, and to raise doubts about the opposition on one or more of these dimensions.
  4. Manage positive and negative feelings towards the candidates' policies and positions.  This is a distant fourth.
This is exactly the opposite of how most Democratic campaigns are run.  Trickle-up politics is as valid as trickle-down economics.  Most voters can't keep up with the policies proposed by any but the major candidates and have less chance of evaluating them as valid or not.

What voters need to know about a candidate is:
  1. Does the candidate share the values that matter the most to me and does he care about people like me?
  2. Can I trust him to represent me faithfully?
  3. Does he have the personal qualities that lead me to believe that he will do right by my values and interests, such as integrity, leadership, and competence?
  4. If there is an issue that really matters to me, what's their stand on it, and can I trust him to think about it and make decisions which I would probably make if I had all the information they'll have as my elected representative?
Part II  A Blueprint for Emotionally Compelling Campaigns  
C7  Writing an Emotional Constitution
 A political campaign must start with a coherent, emotionally compelling story.  It has a setting, protagonists, a problem, obstacles to be overcome and a resolution.  In more detail:
A retelling of "The Little Engine That Could."  With analysis. how it met the above story analysis elements.  Only Carville and Begala have been the only recent presidential campaign leaders to follow this idea and what happened when Dukakis, Carter, Dole, and Kerry didn't.  How Reagan talked to the voters.  The underlying story of America since Reagan according to Republicans.  The problems with this story, 1) it fails to explain the intent of the villain (the Democrats), 2) it leaves out the reason why liberals "tinkered" with the free market (under the Great Depression it failed), 3) it is an account of the liberals assault on God - in actuality the conservatives wanted to support only one religious viewpoint, and 4) it is a thinly veiled attack on all people other than WASP's - White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (evangelicals).  Why and how Carter didn't tell the Republican story.  

A retelling of "The Little Engine" and Art Buchwald's "So you want to be an anti-Semite?" the way Republicans act.  A litany of "intended" consequences of Republican policies.  Examples (lots) of the words that Republicans have labeled Democrats.  Why can't most people think of such a list for the Republicans.

C8  Aborting Ambivalence  Many Democratic pollsters reflect a one-dimensional reading of three-dimensional data.  Most people are ambivalent about most or all issues.  Polls and other techniques are valuable only for evaluating the terms, body language, etc. best get across the message that your principles compel you to support.  

A description of the facts and emotions surrounding abortion, how some Democratic candidates have approached the issue, and raises the question, "What is the Democratic Party stand on abortion?"  He recommends that the Democrats take a principled stand on abortion.  He offers a sample position paragraph.  He quites the Republican 2004 plank on "Promoting a Culture of Life."  He offers some counters to this - Republicans put the rights of rapists above the rights of their victims, they guarantee the right of every rapist to choose the mother of his child, they are proposing a rapists' bill of rights, and Republicans believe that if a sixteen-year-old girl is molested by her father, the government should force her to have his child, if she doesn't want to she should be forced by the government to go to the man who raped her and ask for his consent.  

Westen makes the point that if you ignore an issue in hopes that it will go away - it never does.  The job of a political strategist is not to turn an asset into a liability for fear of a counterattack.  It is to prevent or counter that attack and to have thought a few moves ahead.

Early in Clinton's 1992 campaign Clinton noticed that they were behind 30 points on the welfare issue his comment to Carville and Begala was, "Boys, they're killing us on welfare.  We's better talk about welfare."  The're first ad was on welfare reform.  It must have been successful.

C9  Gunning for Common Ground  The previous chapter focused on conflicts within voters.  This chapter focuses on conflicts between voters.  Most Americans consider themselves "Middle Class".  However the definition as escalated in recent years.  Now those with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 consider themselves middle class.  Given an income of $100,000 per year - a good private college or university costs so much that these people don't have much expendable income.

People have very different frames for guns and gun control.  In large cities a gun means a a criminal robbing you.  In rural areas a gun means hunting deer with your father or grandfather.  Examples of how Democrats can thrive within the system.  First of all tell the whole truth, Bush was eastern establishment all the way, prestigious schools, to be a rancher he had to buy a small ranch two years before he ran for the Presidency, he built lakes on his property because the river running through it was too polluted to fish.  Kerry is a hunter but his handlers wouldn't let the press show him carrying a dead goose because it would offend the wheat germ and tofu crowd.  

When running a campaign and there are two emotionally divided sides look for two things, 1) areas of ambivalence in one or both sides that may mask shared networks (frames) and 2) ways of bridging seemingly unconnected networks to create a common ground.  Westen suggests a campaign commercial showing a reaction to a pollution scene and linking it th a man taking his son fishing.  Another suggestion is via terrorism.  A gun shop, a couple of locals are talking with the owner and his wife.  A number of Middle Eastern men come in the shop, pull automatic weapons off the shelves, and put their cash on the table taking 3 or 4 apiece.  The woman casts a worried look at her husband, he shrugs with a facial expression that says, "What am I supposed to do?"  Shift to candidate out hunting, he makes comments about his opponent saying that anybody can buy automatic weapons without checking ID and background checks.  Compare with NRA and Republican stands.

Do not simply ignore parts of the country (or area) to Republicans just because you haven't won there recently.  Don't use eastern establishment (or coast) values in your commercials if you don't live in New Jersey (or Seattle).  Put in the values and the concerns of those who live in your area.

C10  Racial Consciousness and Unconsciousness  Americans have always been of two minds about race.  This is slowly changing but you must realize just how it is changing.  The first thing that changes is our public speech.  Our deeply held (but seldom voiced) "gut feelings" change much more slowly.  Surveys will seldom reveal any race prejudice.  However certain "coded language" will commonly invoke our older more primitive feelings.  These are terms like, "law and order", "welfare queens", "states rights", "soft on crime".  We need to invoke the conscious and higher order feeling and attack those who use the coded language as racist.

It is possible, in fact very common, to learn things at two levels.  The first is at the rational or logical (conscious) level - you read about it for example.  The second is unconsciously or implicit level.  These things you learn are not the same but they can be.  When the mind is engaged the conscious level overrides the unconscious.  Patriotic symbols in the background are one example.   Your unconscious messages must carry the same message that you want your conscious message to say.  You also need to examine your opponents ad's and messages to see what unconscious messages he is trying to put across.

When the other side is sending racist messages the worst thing to do is ignore it, the best way to fight racism is to shine the bright light of truth on it.  You can't erase 300 years of history without work.  Weston has lots of other comments that are best read in the book.

C11  Death and Taxes  Positive and negative emotions are not opposites, they are different, work in the brain differently and effect voting differently.  If you are only positive you are only fighting half the battle, you can't win an election with half a brain.  If the proposals of your opponent are horrible, you have to tell people why they are horrible.  

Segments from JFK's acceptance speech and Clintons 1992 convention speech plus a speech that Westen would have written for Kerry.  

Principles of Managing an Emotional Portfolio:
  1. If You Don't Feel It, Don't Use It  You have to describe your values and principles with emotional clarity.  An evaluation of the clarity of parts of the Republican Contract With America.  If you propose a bill, make the name evocative, suggest why it should be passed, and make opposition to it difficult because of the values it expresses, and relate it to your party's master narrative.  As a counter to the Flag-Burning Amendment he proposes a Flag-Hiding Amendment.  Very good, a must read.
  2. Frame Messages for Emotional Impact  The framing of the genetics of homosexuality as lifestyle and War on Terror vs. Freedom Fighters.  See Talking Right by Nunberg and Words that Workby Luntz.  Examples:  Estate tax vs. Death tax vs. Paris Hilton Jet tax or Billionaire Bonus or Caviar cuts;  Republican tax cuts vs. tax on the unborn;  replacing the Death Tax with the Birth Tax.  If you are responding to a Republican initiative always assume that they have carefully selected their frames, words, analogies, and imagery and that they understand branding.  Study their words carefully and never repeat Republican slogans except to attack them.  Refer to the "Clear Skies Initiative" as the "Dark Lungs Initiative". Always use the term "Bush and the Republican Congress" when Republicans try to distance themselvesfrom the administration.  Framing can be done with images as well as words.  
  3. Pitch Your Message a the Right Level  A hard concept to get across, example:  don't say "Christian morals", specify the group you want to address, not all Christians agree with many of their ideas.  
  4. Appeal to the Whole Brain  The appropriate use of visual and auditory cues, types of music, sirens, crying infants, etc.  Examples from Ned Lamont's campaign against Joe Lieberman.
Rely on your emotions, your gut feelings to generate ideas for campaign ads.  Once you have designed an ad test it to see if you get the response you are aiming at.  If not, redesign.  You need talented people to create your ads but you need good data to see if they are working.  As Reagan liked to say, "Trust, but verify."

C12  Hope, Inspiration, and Political Intelligence  Excerpts from FDR's Fireside Chat Dec. 9, 1941 the Declaration of War with Japan.  The charisma of FDR, Reagan, and Bill Clinton.  The best predictor of success of a candidate is the ability to elicit positive emotions.  

As is becoming more and more clear there are several aspects of intelligence.  Recently Republicans have selected candidates almost strictly for, what he calls, their political intelligence; their ability to talk to people, to form coalitions, to be empathic, and to link to people.  Democrats have valued competence.  The Republicans could certainly use more competence and the Democrats could use more political intelligence.  

Curb appeal:  the feeling voters get when they "drive by" a candidate a few times on television and form an emotional impression.  Research has shown that quick spots of a candidate, as short as 30 seconds, are enough for voters to form a lasting opinion.  

In selecting candidates Democrats should carefully observe primary candidates as to their curb appeal because it will be very important in the general election,  they should monitor their candidate's nonverbal behavior during the campaign to make sure it doesn't change as the contest becomes long and bitter, and they should train their candidates to maximize their nonverbal appeal.  

The party and candidate needs a compelling master narrative, often based on the candidates life story.   Candidates should also have "signature issues".  These are specific issues to illustrate their values and principles.  There should only be a small number of these and they should discuss these more often than the other issues of the day.  He discusses two possible ones, A "Parents' Bill of Rights", and a "Fair Salaries Act".  

If there are problems in a campaign answer them truthfully, the whole truth with reasons and show how if fits in with your ethical position.  (Unless you are having a blatant affair.)  The main thing is to get out your message seen from your point of view and not let your opponent tell it from his point of view.  Your message needs to be positive showing enthusiasm excitement, hope, compassion, and pride.  Examples from Bush and Gore with a proposed speech for Gore.  

C13  Positively Negative  There are several myths regarding negative campaigning.
  1. Campaigns are getting nastier - Wrong, at the start of our country and throughout the 1800's our campaigns were very negative.  However negative campaign ads are getting worse.
  2. Negative campaigning reduces voter turnout - Wrong, this has been recently shown to be false.  Also in the 2004 election the Republicans produced many negative ads to motivate conservative voters  to go to the polls.  The 2006 turnout was mainly caused by voter anger and the War in Iraq.
  3. Negative appeals are unethical - Wrong
  4. Negative appeals are ineffective - Wrong
  5. When negative appeals are made by the Republicans they are better left alone - Wrong
These last three are mainly believed by Democrats.  They contradict everything we know about the mind and the brain.  The best evidence against them is the results of the last few elections.

If you believe that negative campaigns are unethical - read the Declaration of Independence.  70% of the statements are negative about the British government.  There is a big difference between pointing out the errors of your opponents and unfair, misleading, or unethical attacks which are not true.  Whether an appeal is rational or emotional, or positive or negative is completely independent of whether it is ethical.  Television ads are often more powerful than speeches because of the linking of multimodal networks linking words, images, sounds, and emotions.  A long discussion of Republican ads that were not ethical.

If negative ads are ineffective why did Bush win the 2004 election by spending 3/4 of his budget on attack ads.  Every sinning presidential campaign in the last century has featured attacks on the opposition.  Democrats have often tended to respond to attacks, especially unfair ones, with a set of strategies that virtually always fail.
  1. Do not respond at all.  This allows the Republicans to frame the issues and voters tend to assume that the charge is true or has something to hide, which in tern emboldens the attacker.
  2. Respond with a flurry of facts or counterarguments.  This turns the debate to one on the extend to which the charges to true.  It is best to respond as a parenthetical statement embedded in a story of someone who would behave unethically in a campaign is a good predictor of how he would behave in office.
  3. "He know it's not true" or "he's lying."  Turns the debate into a he said / she said shouting match.  Tell a story about the opponent that shows he is lying because that's who he is.
  4. Direct personal attacks or "low blows." A direct and immediate angry response that tells the audience that you are a man who can stand up for yourself and is sick and tired of lies from a person who doesn't understand the truth.
  5. Appeal to referees (the media) or worse yet the opposition to stop the attacks and play nice.  This signals the the person is of lesser status and must beg.
  6. Call for the removal of the official who has been a lightning rod for public disapproval.  The primary example here is the resignation of Rumsfeld.  Bush was the president, and the buck stops there, if Bush didn't want it done it wouldn't have been done.
Counterpunching is so important because failure to counterpunch costs elections.  There is a 7 page analysis of the Kerry campaign and how Bush attacked him even before he was nominated and kept it up all during the election, especially the Swift Boat fiasco.

When you are dealing with a person (or party) that is likely to do this one good technique is to inoculate the electorate.  Make it known that you expect such attacks and then when they come you can say something like "There you go again" (from Reagan's campaign against Carter.)

C14  Terror Networks  The Republicans have used terror in the late 1940's and early 1950's with Joe McCarthy and again since 2002 when Karl Rove went before the Republican National Committee that terror (national security) would be the linchpin of the Republican efforts over the next few years.  The Democrats didn't respond because they were fear of being unseated, fear of being branded, and fear of being outflanked.  Since they didn't respond they were unseated, branded, and outflanked.

He has a nice comment, "Where there's Fire, Don't Wave at the Smoke."  You put out the fire, and if someone keeps starting those fires, you put out the arsonist.  His primary example is the Oct 2002 resolution that Bush pushed through to invade Iraq without congressional debate.  The could have told the truth, it may be hard but you never have to apologize later or try to lie your way out of it.  He recommends a statement that the Congressional Democrats could have taken.  The Republicans used this vote for the next 5 years and are still using it to accuse any Democrat who wants accountability to accuse them of being "Soft on Terrorism."

The use of terror as a tactic has been used before.  The Alien and Sedition Acts under President John Adams, the "red scare" in 1917 when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, and Joe McCarthy in the early 1950's.  The main thing to learn is that when you try appeasement the bullies always view it as a sign of weakness and increase the attacks.  The Democrats should have responded in 2002 with a call to the Republican No Rights Left Behind initiative.

If you don't stand for anything, there's not much reason to have a party.  If the Constitution isn't worth defending, it's hard to know what is.  And if your leading strategists can't figure out how you can win by speaking the truth on vital matters of national security and civil liberties, get yourself new strategists.  The Republicans have been doing this all during Bush's presidency.  The Democrats must learn how to act together.  The Demo slogan for 2006 was "Together, we can do better" - follow it, or even better as Franklin said more than 200 years ago, "we must all hang together or we will most assuredly all hang separately."  He repeated a statement made by Garrison Keillor.

Again, the Republicans have been using terror ever since 9/11 and every time they did Bush's popularity level increased.  Recent experiments have shown that when faced with stories of death and terror most people become more conservative, supportive of their home culture, and ready to attack other cultures.  How can you respond to this?  First identify and learn about the problem.  There are scientific data on terror management techniques.  The first step is to inoculate the voters, tell them how terror is used to manipulate them.  Look for the Trojan horses.  Stop using the Republican framing terms, "War on Terror".  Any time this approach is tried again, call them on it.  Remind Americans of how great leaders in the past have responded to threats.  Look for the manipulative words and phrases the Republicans are using and prepare counters to them.  

A recommendation to Kerry in 2004.  We are not fighting a war on terror, terror is a feeling not an enemy.  If the president wants to fight a war on terror I suggest he see a therapist.  As your president. I will not declare war on feelings, I will declare war on those who create those feelings.  There were many areas where the Republicans were vulnerable to attack - the Democrats didn't attack any of them.

A lot of Democrats are angry at Republicans for violating the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.  They are also very angry at Democrats in office for failing to use the weapons at their disposal to fight against the Republicans.  

C15  Civil and Uncivil Unions  The Terri Schiavo case.  This case was an example of a battle between two value systems, two moralities, and two visions of faith.  One was inherently antidemocratic, rests on assertions of the form, "I've talked to God, He has told me the answer, and I have the right to impose it on you."  The other, that which our founding fathers had, starts out with the view that to live a just and moral life, we must be firm in our moral convictions but humble in our recognition that we are not the only ones who feel certain about our faith or values.  Democrats need to talk about values, morality, and faith but not using the words or the meanings of the Republicans.

John Haidt has distinguished several kinds of moral emotion.  "Self-conscious" emotions - shame, embarrassment, and guilt lead us to do the right things.  "Other-suffering" emotions - compassion, empathy lead us to feel for others and try to help them.  "Other-praising" emotions - admiration and respect for those we consider morally courageous primarily define the morality of the left.  "Other-condemning" emotions - anger, indignation, contempt, disgust, and loathing are especially common on the far right.  The danger is that these "other-condemning" emotions cause the left to fear the right who use these.  They must learn to recognize these emotions for what they are and to fight against them.

We must learn to separate out the sacred from the profane.  We live in the profane.  This the world about which Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." However it is not all that easy to separate the whole world into two non-interacting parts, the sacred and the profane interact in many ways.  Our political parties sometimes try to.  Democrats are very uncomfortable with the sacred, preferring the profane.  The Republicans is casting its appeal much more in the language of the sacred.  It has even gone farther, turning the profane world of free-market capitalism into an article of faith and calling anyone who disagrees a blasphemer.

"If you want to win elections, you can't assume your values.  You have to preach them.  If one side is running on values and the other side is running from them, it isn't hard to figure out how the electorate will start thinking, feeling, and talking about values."

Until the 1980's references to God were common.  Kennedy, Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, and Carter all commonly referred to God.  Then in 1984 Reagan redefined faith and morality.  He was very public in his pronouncements of faith.  He was very skilled in changing the Democratic complaints about his supporting a particular faith into claiming that they were against all faith.  Much discussion of various types of religious, fundamentalist, christian right politics.  Democrats should tell Americans about the extremists who are violating the law, the spirit, and the exact words of the Constitution.  These include Pat Robertson and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Evangelical Christians have been at the forefront of the effort to end slavery and give rights to women.  They still have their fervor but their good works have been hijacked by a few of their number and the Republicans.  

The author defines fundamentalism.  They differ from evangelicals in that fundamentalists are motivated by fear, hate, and the "other-condemning" moral emotions.  Jerry Falwell said, "A fundamentalist is just an evangelical who is mad about something."  Jimmy Carter said that the key characteristics of fundamentalist religions everywhere is that they are invariably dominated by authoritarian males who consider themselves first among equals.  They draw la radical distinction themselves and everyone else, who are defined, at best, as objects of pity, and more usually, subhuman objects of scorn.  They are angry and militant, often willing to resort to violence to assert the dominance of their beliefs, and view any efforts at cooperation or negotiation with others as signs of weakness.  There are three central features of fundamentalism, rigidity, domination, and exclusion.  
It is time for a progressive moral critique of the right.  This should not only target the intemperate words of the leaders of the Republican party.  It should also focus on the deeds of Republican office-holders.  It should be framed as a moral critique, not as a matter of policy differences or as a "debate on the issues."  He quotes a number of quotes from the Bible which run counter to Republican moral principles.  

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" Mark 10:21-25.  John the Baptist, "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise" Luke 3:11).  "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him: Prov. 16:7.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" Matt. 5:9.  "For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins.  You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the counts" Amos 12.  "Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits: Exod 6.  He describes a number of cases in which Republican officeholders under Bush have violated one or more of these statements from the Bible.

In 2004 Bush made an anti-gay message supporting a proposed constitutional amendment.  Kerry said very little.  Westen offers a press conference statement that Kerry could have made.  He also offers a number of facts and figures and moral statements that Democrats could make when faced with anti-gay sentiments.  

The philosophers of the Enlightenment used reason as a weapon against those who would rule by religious dogma but it was their passion for liberty that led to the founding of America and democracies around the world.  Two visions of the mind and brain dominate our thought.  One, dispassionate reason suggests that voters choose candidates based on their policies.  The other, a passionate vision suggest that voters are moved by the feelings that candidates and parties elicit in them.  

Voters tend to ask four questions that determine who they will vote for.
Candidates who focus their campaigns toward the top of this hierarchy and work down generally win.  Candidates who start at the bottom and work up generally lose.  What does this mean for Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party?
Contained in the book are 4 pages of general notes and 31 pages of index.  A more specific set of notes for the book are contained in his web site:  www.westenstrategies.com/PoliticalBrainNotes , this is 54 pages long (big type).

Additional notes from article in Huffington Post Apr. 16, 2009

The Five Strands of Conservatism: Why the GOP is Unraveling

Libertarian Conservatism, eg. Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul.  Government should be small and weak and kept that way through low taxes.  The primary role should be to police streets, protect private property, and protect the country from external threats, (internal threats can also set them off).

Social Conservatism, entirely incompatible with libertarianism.  This is primarily Christian fundamentalism.  They have privileged knowledge of God's Will and have the right to impose that will on others.  eg. Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson.

Fiscal Conservatism, eg. Bob Dole - soft New Dealers, they accept safety nets but prefer them to be thin.

National Security Conservatism.  Eg. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  They are hawkish but avoid military service.  

Racist Conservatism.  Westen doesn't directly use word but is strongly hinted at.  They commonly use key words that are "understood" but are not explicitly racist such as voting rights, "welfare queens", affirmative action, "illegals", "one of us".

Republicans are short on ideas but long on selling ideas, Democrats are the opposite, "long on ideas but short on the ability to bundle them into coherent, emotionally compelling narratives that make people want to buy them."

A reader of Westen's article recommends the addition of a sixth category, this would be the "Law and Order Conservative".  eg. Nixon, Giullani, J. Edgar Hoover.  A "fear-of-chaos" response" to the problems of urban violence, antisocial behavior, antiwar activism, countercultural lifestyles, and controversial art

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