… in other vital situations I believe. How do we choose our friends, committee and jury chairs, organizational affiliations and “right” position on moral or financial decisions?
What matters most? Policy stances (NYT) or character /quality of leadership (Kennedy)?
Linguist, George Lakeoff writes in The Huffington Post that “The difference is striking. To the editors of the New York Times, the quality of leadership seems not to be an ‘issue.’ The ability to unite the country is not an "issue."
What Obama calls the empathy deficit -- attunement to the experience and needs of real people -- is not an ‘issue.’ Honesty is not an ‘issue.’ Trust is not an ‘issue.’ Moral judgment is not an ‘issue."
Values are not ‘issues.’ Adherence to democratic ideals -- rather than political positioning, triangulation, and incrementalism -- are not ‘issues.’ Inspiration, a call to a higher purpose, and a transcendence of interest-based politics.”
Lakeoff notes that Ronald Reagan's chief strategist, Richard Wirthlin, realized that, “most voters do not vote primarily on the basis of policies, but rather on
… Reagan spoke about his values, and policies for him just exemplified values. He connected viscerally with people. He was perceived as authentic, as really believing what he said.”
In a similar spirit, Caroline Kennedy wrote, "Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates' goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved."
How do you make major choices in your life about who or what you will support?
• For insights into how to frame a situation to influence or to decide, read Lakoff’s Don't Think of an Elephant. Even though it is oriented towards politics the methods work for other situations.