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Persuasion in Politics

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Persuasion in Politics

Audrey Kennedy

Abstract

                Communications is the beginning of all life and human reality. Genesis 1:3 “Then God said…”. In the beginning was the word, and the word was eternal. As humans, we use words to communicate and each word is an attempt to influence other persons and plays an important part in everyday life. There are four types of communication: intrapersonal, interpersonal, group and mass. There is a sender who sends a message to a receiver that evokes feedback. One tool used is persuasion which is an act or process of presenting arguments to move, motivate, or change your audience. Persuasion can be implicit or explicit and can have both positive and negative effects. Putting words in act, we can express feelings, we can share opinions, and observe what we want, and the main purpose of communication is to convince people (Sutiu, 2014). In America, we are a democracy in which we pursue goals through persuasion. We construct and deliver arguments to gain votes in order to advance our policies and ultimately build a better world, thus, persuasion is central to political success (Horn, 2013). There are various types of persuasion such as appeal to reason, appeal to emotions, and the appeal to one’s character. In politics, there are many issues that need to be addressed that are highly controversial, hence, many audiences need persuaded.

        

Persuasion in Politics

        Progressive lawmakers, candidates, and activists often try to improve a range of issues, from the economy to healthcare, immigration, marriage equality, abortion, and gun laws. No matter the issue, politicians often find ways to make people more open to changing their opinion. Yet, some politicians may find problems in trying to persuade an audience. It is important to note how one presents his/her audience with arguments in order to motivate people to adapt their view, consider various points, or even change their behavior.

        The first step to trying to persuade an audience is to appeal to what Saftiou calls the “traditional common mentality”. Regardless of political dispute, regardless of the diversity of opinions and interests, there are important things that unite us (Saftiou, 2010). A speaker reconnects and appeals to the common knowledge where communication is achieved from person to person and the message gives value to the auditors because it involves them in the message. A sense of community can be easily attached to emotional involvement in delivering the message. A speaker often succeeds in drawing the attention to his audience by creating emotions of general interest such as trust, justice, social and economic progress. The speaker must present the audience what they want, formulating the promises that people want to hear, thus building himself the image of a reliable, trust-worthy politician (Saftiou, 2010). One persuasion technique is identification and emotional involvement. It relates to creating and sending the impression that the speaker identifies his own hopes and aspirations to those of his auditors (Saftiou, 2010). In other words, the speaker – as a politician representing the presidential administration – projects the image of a man “like us”, a thing that gives the speaker credibility (Saftiou, 2010).

        The main purpose of communication is to convince people, this goal can be achieved by using persuasion and/or manipulation, but speakers must take into account there is a fine line between persuasion and manipulation. Communication, deemed an action, has a specific purpose and can produce many emotions and effects among individuals or groups. Understanding persuasion better can help us “make better choices and is essential to live in our ever-changing world where having to choose among alternatives, trivial, and essential, is a constant” (Sutiu, 2014). The significant difference between persuasion and manipulation is that when the purpose is concealed from the people, it is a clear manipulative action. It can evoke emotions of guilt, regret and hatred. Manipulation techniques tend to paralyze reflection, and to a mental level, they can be a form of deprivation of liberty. In contrast, persuasion is built on the individual’s freedom of thought and free will (Suitu, 2014).

The easiest way to connect with voters is to empathize. The sender must demonstrate that they understand their problems and concerns (Horn, 2013). Willer and Feinberg (2015) found that people often struggle to set aside their reasons for taking a political position and failed to consider how someone with different values might come to support that same position. This is present among receivers, in this case voters, and between receiver and sender, the politician. The solution is to take persuadable voters as they are, not as we wish they were. Accept that they have biases and beliefs that are different from ours, understand them, and speak their language instead of ours (Horn, 2013). Even if the arguments that one winds up making aren’t those that you would find most appealing, you will have dignified the morality of your political rivals with your attention, which, if you think about it, is the least that citizens deserve (Willer & Feinberg, 2015). If politicians can make arguments that embrace other people’s principle, it will show that he or she views those with whom they disagree not as enemies, but as people whose values are worth consideration. Thus, must not attack different views and say it is one or the other, but that we must be open to different views, persuade, not manipulate.

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