Brooks: The psychology behind choosing candidates

 •  Filed under Politics, behavioral economics and psychology

There was a very nicely written op-ed in today's NYT. David Brooks described the growing popularity of Trump, Carson, Sanders and Corbyn in this pithy paragraph:

These sudden stars are not really about governing. They are tools for their supporters’ self-expression. They allow supporters to make a statement, demand respect or express anger or resentment. Sarah Palin was a pioneer in seeing politics not as a path to governance but as an expression of her followers’ id.

The stories of 'how we go here' were not developed much. It seems too easy to say that 'people trust political parties less' and that there was a "broader culture shift ... [what we might call] expressive individualism".

Brooks also suggests that citizens maintained conversations and relationships in the past more easily - could we see some evidence?

I sometimes wonder if today’s writers romanticize the supposed spirit of cooperation that, they say, existed in the past. It seems like a comparison between previous decades and 2015 must be more complicated. Still, this is another passage that seems to be describing something real:

in the ethos of expressive individualism, individual authenticity is the supreme value. Compromise and coalition-building is regarded as a dirty and tainted activity. People congregate in segregated cultural and ideological bubbles and convince themselves that the purest example of their type could actually win.

Brooks is onto something. The tenet that elevates “authenticity” and “sharing” (over-sharing) is real, and the “I’m just like you” campaign methods are not pretty.