Mike Tyldesley points (in a comment on a recent post here) to this great piece by David Brooks on the Social Ape aspect of the current presidential campaign over the water . Here as there, the generals on the Centre Right are realising that their recent obsession with individualism is ultimately misguided: the "ties that bind" and "social capital" are two political jargon terms that underline this. And as Brooks points out, the We-politics of the Right go back to their patron saints. Certainly, the Bush-Cheney 04 team had this bit right. Rearrange the following words to form the basis of political debate/phone-in language: "Ordinary", "decent" "hardworking" "taxpayers" "people (like me)" "rank and file" etc – it's about US, not I.
Over there again, Paul Krugman expresses some surprise that testable facts about a supposed external reality play such a small role in contemporary American politics (things were ever thus…).And Bob Garfield bemoans the willful disconnect in GOP attack ads between claim and oh, er…facts
Yet as both Presidential candidates' advisors know, Politics is a We-think game and not an I-think one: individual voting behaviour (like so many other behaviours) is not independently driven but shaped by that of others; much of what passes for our political debates are 'tribal' turf wars (see the story around the republican VP candidate) rather than debates on "issues"; most political communication is designed to 'activate the base' and whatever Uncle Tony (and our better selves) would have us believe, it's the people stuff that we care about, not the policies.Yes, that means, The Palin Thing is for real. And as Obama himself pointed out, the election is not really about him and what he stands for but about "us" (or them, depending on the colour of your passport) and what "we" think about ourselves.
Because we are a social ape – first, foremost and finally.
If there was tv quiz show in which different species had to choose a specialist subject, homo sapiens would be answering questions on…other people
It's a HERD thing