What Do Presidential Debates and Colonoscopies Have in Common?

At some point, each additional GOP Presidential debate becomes just a bigger pain in the . . . But science shows us that the last debate before a vote—and the last memorable event in the last debate—is paramount to how we remember the entire event. 

In fact, memorable moments at the end, not consistent performance throughout, determine who wins and who loses.

In this awesome TED talk, Nobel winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the weird difference between our experiencing selves and our remembering selves.  And his research offers very important information for candidates and campaigns:

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

If you want to win, forget the experience; own the memory.

That’s why you can predict primary results from the last debate when the candidates are close and a lot of voters are only mildly committed.  (There’s a lot of great information about how committed minds defend their decisions, but that’s for a later post.)

Whether writing a blog post, planning an event, giving a speech, or just engaging in a conversation, the audience’s memory will not be the sum of the experience, but the memory created.  As Kahneman points out, memories of colonoscopies are better when the unpleasant experience lasts longer.

Newt Gingrich won South Carolina’s final debate and its primary. Then, Newt under performed in Florida’s final debate . . . and now he’s losing ground to Romney. Just like a protracted colonoscopy.

BONUS:  Candidates and parties worry about the spin as much as they worry about the presentation for this exact reason. The media itself determines who wins a debate, too, by dominating memory.  Most people don’t watch debates or major speeches. They get a summary from the news.  And that summary is designed to influence their memories. 

P.S.  I will be talking about the brain science of winning elections on Saturday, February 25, at the 3rd Anniversary Tea Party.  Don’t miss it.

Choosing Battles

For the record, I do not apologize for focusing on the most important battles facing self-government since the American Revolution. choose 1 red pill or blue pill

Earlier this week, McGraw Milhaven of 550 KTRS criticized Tea Partyers for not opposing Missouri legislation, introduced by and championed by Republicans, that will force insurance companies to cover treatment for children diagnosed with Autism and associated conditions.  (I personally oppose this legislation, by the way.)

Before that, a few Tea Partyers criticized me and others on facebook  for not doing “enough” to support the Missouri Healthcare Free Choice act, which recently passed both the House and the Senate. The Healthcare Free Choice Act will be on the August 3 ballot, making Missouri the first state in the union to hold a binding referendum on ObamaCare. (I support Healthcare Free Choice Act and will actively support passage of the referendum as time permits.)

The Tea Party’s Focus Has Been Federal

In spite of our work on state and local projects, the Tea Party movement didn’t come about to address Autism or state referenda. The Tea Party was born, according to my records and memory, to change the federal government, first by resistance, then by changing Congress.  Others described the movement as “a ten-round fight ending with a knock-out on November 2, 2010.” From my first reaction to the Tea Party of February 27, 2009:

The Tea Party was only the first step in a march that ends with a Congress that understands that America is not a land, it’s an idea. That idea is that human beings are the best judges of what will achieve happiness.  Free to follow that judgment, some will fail, but more will exceed their wildest expectations.

Now, I’m not the official mouthpiece of the Tea Party movement in St. Louis or anywhere else.  But a lot of people did ride to the sound of the drums Dana Loesch and I were beating in February and March 2009.  Nowhere in that rhythm did we pound out state legislative issues.  Here was my most exhaustive thoughts on the purpose of the movement from that period.

More recently, at the newspaper’s invitation, I wrote something of a vision statement for the movement on the Op-Ed page of the Christian Science Monitor. Again, I focused on the federal government.

While many local tea party organizations involve themselves in local or state issues and races, the movement’s primary interest lies in Washington. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans distrust the federal government, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. Among tea partyers, that statistic is closer to 9 in 10. That’s important because it highlights a very important common theme: a libertarian view of Washington’s role.

States Have Limited Power Against Congress

Maybe you think that we should focus more on Missouri legislation and less on electoral politics. Fine.  But federal law usually trumps state laws,and this White House will fight this Missouri law at every turn.  The feds might do so unconstitutionally, but Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama couldn’t care less about our Constitution.  Nor could Elena Kagan, for that matter.

I am focused on changing the government in Washington because that government has become destructive of and abusive toward the people and the state of Missouri.  Missouri laws cannot stop Washington until we change the people in Washington. It’s as simple as that.

The Tea Party Must Focus

The Tea Party movement is comprised of mostly ordinary people with little spare time or money. We fight an enemy that’s funded by the richest billionaires on earth. (And this battle isn’t new.) We can either focus on one battle and win it against the odds, or we can diffuse our focus get our asses creamed from Maine to California.

In The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care)

I learned that even massive amounts of money (and four billionaires pumped $10s millions into a few  races in Colorado in two cycle), changing political tides is very, very difficult.  Without money, disciplined focus is paramount.

We have far more people on our side than the progressives in Colorado had on theirs.  We have the numbers to make this work. And we have the passion. We do not have the people, the time, the money, or the energy to change everything at once. We can change Congress in 2010.  We can improve Congress and change the White House in 2012.  By 2014, we’ll start seeing a difference in the courts. By 2020, we might see a budget surplus and diminishing national debt.

But we won’t see any of these wonderful goals if we split ranks and fight 57 enemies.  And we sure as hell won’t win if we keep fighting each other.

Focus on Washington

Elena Kagan might be a socialist.  She might also be an all-out Commie with a picture of Chairman Mao tattooed on her left rump.  Unless ten Democrat Senators turn against her, she will be voting on whether Missouri’s Healthcare Free Choice act can be enforced.  And there’s nothing we can do about that.

The reason there’s nothing we can do is because a leftist President is calling the shots, and his party controls both houses of Congress.  Nothing that happens in Jefferson City, Missouri, will change that.

But we can do something about the future.  We can make Kagan Obama’s LAST socialist Supreme Court appointee.  We can do that by getting conservatives elected to Congress.  In Missouri, in Illinois, in Kansas, Oklahoma, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Wyoming, Colorado, and everywhere else.

I didn’t help form Ensuring Liberty because I was bored with too much time on my hands.  I did it because we need something like the NRCC formed by and operated by Tea Partyers.  That’s what Ensuring Liberty is.  We help get people who resemble Michele Bachmann and Todd Akin elected to the House.  It’s noble mission and I wish you’d join us.  While you might live in a safe district, America needs your time, energy, and money in other districts, maybe other states.  It doesn’t matter where the 216th vote for ObamaCare came from.  We need 290 votes to pass a veto-proof repeal of ObamaCare.  Two hundred ninety.  We need 67 Senators, and we have 41.

Don’t Forget Home

Please don’t think that I don’t care about home.  I do.  I care enough about St. Louis and Missouri and Illinois to fight the Washington invader that threatens everything we have.  I want the Missouri legislature to be more important to us than the US Congress is.  I want the right Missouri candidates to win on August 3 and again on November 2. In no way should anyone turn their backs on our local races in 2010.

But our attention to state races must be proportional to the candidates’ needs and the importance of that office.

John Kennedy, when running for President, was accused of buying the White House with is father’s money. (His father was billionaire Joseph P. Kennedy.)  At a Gridiron dinner, Kennedy said:

I have just received the following telegram from my generous Daddy. It says, "Dear Jack: Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.”

So win all the important races. Win a with an uncontestable margin. We need a landslide of races won, but we don’t need a landslide in any one race.

The Enemy Is In DC

Until Washington cuts spending, eliminates entitlements, balances its budgets, and obeys the law of the land, we must focus on taming that beast. Yes, we will keep an eye on Missouri politics.  We will support smart legislation and oppose stupid things.  But we cannot turn our backs on the most important Congressional elections in US history in order to pass or oppose bills in Jefferson City. At least I can’t.

Now, to those who have worked so hard on Missouri legislation this past year, thank you.  Thank you and congratulations. You have made a real change to our lives—change for the better. I just hope you’ll understand that with the limited time and energy I have, I feel my calling is in helping conservatives take back Congress. If we don’t do that this year, we might not get another chance.

Now, let’s get to Block Captain training, grab our Pocket Constitutions, and go out there to win one for the Gipper.

Ensuring Liberty Congressional Town Hall

Over at Ensuring Liberty, we held our first Congressional Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 11.  In case you missed it, Reps Michele Bachmann and Steve King discussed Senator Dodd’s proposed financial takeover bill with thousands of Americans.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6AvG1HVcDE&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1&hl=en]

Segment 1 of May 11 Ensuring Liberty Town Hall

Ensuring Liberty plans to team up with Bachmann, King, and many other conservative House members throughout 2010 and beyond.  We want to bring your voices to their ears—again, and again.

When you expand this Liberty Caucus on November 3, this forum will be just one way you and Ensuring Liberty can hold our representatives accountable. You can keep these town halls coming by joining Ensuring Liberty today

Here’s the rest of the segments from Tuesday’s Town Hall:

View Segment 2
View Segment 3
View Segment 4

Special thanks to Steve McQueen for his outstanding technical work in putting this event together. 

Want to have a St. Louis Watch Party for a future event?  Maybe we can even get Todd Akin to join the Congressional panel.  [poll Id=8]

Ensuring Liberty: Virtual Town Hall with Rep. Michele Bachmann

EnsuringLibertyTN House Conservative Rock Star, Michele Bachmann, will hold a virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 Central, and 5:00 Pacific.

REGISTER NOW!

Representative Bachmann will discuss the Dodd Financial Reform Bill currently in debate in the U. S. Senate.

header_v2[1] Today’s Wall Street rollercoaster ride should remind everyone of the disaster caused by government intervention in the housing market through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

*UPDATE* Rep. Steve King, another conservative rock star, will join Rep. Bachmann on the call.

When you register on LibertyCaucus.net, you’ll receive an email with the details, including a calendar link to remind you of the call.