We would like to believe that we are enlightened beings controlled by our logical mind. However, we are actually controlled by our emotional mind.
All of our decisions and choices are ultimately driven by our emotions. Every decision can be traced back to a specific emotion – security, happiness, well-being, gratification, power, self-preservation and so forth.
Simply put, we are driven by the Pain and Pleasure Principle: we move away from pain and we move towards pleasure.
Thus, it is also emotions that drive our political choices; it is emotions of pain and pleasure which elect our leaders and presidents.
President George Bush was reelected in 2004 to his second term by pitching pain and fear by saying that there is an enemy that is out to get us and that he is the only one that can protect us. In 2008, the pendulum swung and Barack Obama was elected by pitching pleasure in the form of hope and change by saying, “Yes, we can.”
Now the pendulum has swung again, and it is fear in the form of anger and hatred that are spreading and forming the dominant emotions in US culture.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is leading the polls by warning of pain and appealing to, and fueling anger and hatred.
Trump is promoting fear by saying that we must be afraid of the illegal immigrants trying to cross the Mexican border (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”); we must be afraid of the Syrian refugees (“When the Syrian refugees are going to start pouring into this country, we don’t know if they’re ISIS, we don’t know if it’s a Trojan horse. And I definitely want a database and other checks and balances…if I win — they’re going back.”); we must be afraid of the Muslims (“I want surveillance of certain mosques” and a registry of all Muslims); we must be afraid of China, politicians and the establishment, and so forth.
When confronted by danger, it is natural that we will respond with fear which becomes apparent as the Fight-or-Flight Response. Donald Trump is pushing and working hard to keep us in that Fight-or-Flight Response – “fight” by promoting anger (stating “I’ll bring back waterboarding” as interrogation – “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway”, and saying that the black protestor at his Birmingham rally deserved to be violently treated by white audience members (“Maybe he should have been roughed up”) and constantly reinforcing that although we need to be afraid, he will proudly rescue and lead us out of our misery and lead us to triumph.
Trump’s primary push is that we must be afraid of everyone that is different to us, we must become obedient to him and his plans (Trump stated that the black protestor at his Birmingham rally deserved to be violently treated because he was “obnoxious and loud”) , and that we must take pride in becoming the world super leader. Adolf Hitler used a similar approach to rise to power, to unite the German people in hatred and fear, to invoke obedience and the hatred and fear of the Jews, and ultimately to war with the world.
Unless, we awaken to become extremely conscious of our emotions, unless we consciously choose to engage emotional intelligence and compassion, we will inevitably elect the next US president based on anger and fear and hatred.