Speaking Toddlerese to the Left
Conversely, when a Bill Clinton sounds as if he is communicating unconscious emotion, he is simply manipulating you. That is, just like an actor, he has consciously mastered various techniques to stir unconscious emotion in his listeners. In his case it is pure sham, but one could well imagine cases in which this skill could be put to good use, for example, in the rhetoric Churchill used to rouse his nation during World War II. The problem with Clinton is that his techniques are so laughably transparent to anyone who is not seduced by his sociopathic charms -- the pointed finger, the bitten lip, the squinting eyes, the hands over the heart, etc.
One could even say that one of George Bush's greatest faults has been his inability to rhetorically manipulate citizens in a positive manner, which most any great leader must do in order to be great. Although the content of Bush's speeches is often first rate, the speeches apparently do not communicate from unconscious to unconscious, which truly powerful rhetoric must be able to do in order to speak to the "group mind." If a leader cannot speak to the unconscious, he will generally be rejected.
The psychohistorian Lloyd deMause writes of how a political leader is actually a "fantasy leader" who must articulate and contain the fears and anxieties of the group. To the extent that he fails to do this, he will be attacked and vilified, just as a psychotherapist is when there is a disconnect, or empathic failure, between therapist and patient. While people can be in touch with reality, groups tend not to be. This is why, for example, the economy can be performing quite well, but the group can be living the fantasy that things have never been worse. Since this is an irrational fear, it generally cannot be combated on rational grounds, as anyone who has tried to have a rational conversation with a leftist quickly realizes. The leftist lives in a fantasy world that is quite real to them, and unless you find a way to speak to their fantasies, you'll get nowhere.
This reminds me of a technique we've employed with our son that works like magic, that is, speaking to him in a language he understands, "toddler-ese." This idea was developed by pediatrician Harvey Karp in his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. It probably sounds like a gimmick, but it's worked for us. As the reviewer says,
"Viewing toddlers as primitive thinkers akin to prehistoric man, Karp divides his patients into developmental groups: the 'Charming Chimp-Child' (12 to 18 months), the 'Knee-High Neanderthal' (18 to 24 months), the 'Clever Cave-Kid' (24 to 36 months) and the 'Versatile Villager' (36 to 48 months). Parents may find the toddler years so frustrating, Karp suggests, because they don't speak their child's language. To deal effectively with the undeveloped brains of toddlers, one must understand 'toddler-ese,' he says, a method of talking to youngsters that employs short phrases, repetition, a dramatic tone of voice and the use of body language."
Another reviewer writes that "Although the analogy to prehistoric man is overdone a bit, there are so many sensible, clear strategies to try with 1-4 year olds that really are working for us. Talking toddler-ese has really made a difference in the cooperation we are now getting from our 2 and 3 year olds. Mirroring their feelings and 'wants' with short, repeated phrases that reflect the child's words, tone and body lauguage has quickly and almost magically stopped much of my toddlers' defiant, annoying behaviors. Karp emphasizes that what you say to someone who is really upset is less important than HOW YOU SAY IT. And his theory has proven itself to be correct in our home."
When a child is angry or frustrated, you will notice that a parent often talks to the child like he's a subordinate adult. Now that I speak toddlerese, I notice this all the time. For example, a child might be playing in the sandbox at the park. The parent says it's time to go, and the child says "no." The parent then says words to the effect of, "let's go. You can come back tomorrow." But this only escalates the child.
Instead, you need to acknowledge what the child is feeling inside. For example, let's say Future Leader is immersed in some enjoyable activity, but it's time for a diaper change. He starts screaming and protesting. What doesn't work is saying, "c'mon, it'll just take a few minutes, then you can get back to what you were doing. Stop complaining, and cowboy up." What does work is saying (with the appropriate emotion) something to the effect of "Tristan's really mad! He was having fun! He doesn't want a new diaper!"
As I said, it works like magic, but once you think about it, it's easy to understand why. First, it puts their otherwise inarticulate emotions into words, thereby containing them. Secondly, it is empathic, demonstrating to them that you know how they feel. Conversely, to say in effect, "shut up, grow a pair, and quit complaining" is to completely ignore and devalue their experience. After all, you wouldn't treat an adult in this authoritarian way. Let's say the husband is engrossed in a ball game on TV, but the wife wants to go shopping. I know of a certain wife who might have said something like, "let's go, it's just a stupid game. There'll be another one tomorrow."
Suffice it to say that they are now divorced.
Speaking of dictators, the other day I was reading a book by Carl Jung, in which he discusses the appeal of Hitler to the German people, which was purely on this level of fantasy leader. He was able, like an oracle, to articulate the group fantasy of the German people, and to speak to them unconscious-to-unconscious.
As Jung said in a 1936 interview, Hitler was a sort of "medium" who had an uncanny ability to articulate what the nation was feeling at any given time: "German policy is not made; it is revealed through Hitler. He is the mouthpiece of the gods as of old. He says the word which expresses everybody's resentment." It is "rule by revelation": "He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the Great War." "All these symbols together of a Third Reich led by its prophet under the banners of wind and storm and whirling vortices point to a mass movement which is to sweep the German people in a hurricane of unreasoning emotion and go on to a destiny which perhaps none but the seer... can foretell -- and perhaps not even he."
Fuhrermore, in a 1938 interview, Jung contrasted Hitler with Mussolini, the latter of whom was still "human." But "with Hitler, you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man, because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective. He is not an individual, but a whole nation." Nothing Hitler said makes any sense to the non-German unconscious, with the interesting exception of the Islamic world, where Mein Kampf is always a huge seller.
With that in mind, I wonder if Jung's advice to America would be the same as it was in this 1938 interview:
"How to save your democratic U.S.A.? It must, of course, be saved, else we all go under. You must keep away from the craze, avoid the infection.... America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy."
And we must learn toddlerese in order to communicate with the intellectually knee-high neanderthals of the left:
"Dennis is really mad! He wants a Department of Peace! Hillary very upset! Army men are big bullies! Obama scared! Big bombs go boom in night!"