Presidential Reptilian Shock

You are much more than your reptilian brain! In the course of evolution, the human brain developed the limbic and then the cerebral cortex to support the complex functions of analysis, appreciative evaluation and feelings, and all that the human mind can reach for and understand from art to science, from relationship to religion and more.

Why do the candidates insist on talking to our reptilian brain? Why are most messages on TV designed to trigger a reptilian reaction?

You guessed it – it sells! Scare them. Shock them. Frighten them. Stimulate the reptilian fear and sex instincts or it won’t sell!

Why are the political campaigns and their pundits reduced to reptilian sound bites on both sides? Do they think that we are so stupid to not see and understand we are being manipulated? Do they believe that electing a president is a reptilian choice? Do they think “We The People” will use reptilian reflexes to pull a lever or mark a ballot box?

If the presidential test is reduced to crowd control, mobilizing mob hysteria and inciting an “us versus them” herd reflex, which is what the campaigns on both sides can be seen to be promoting, then the biggest loser is the American public and the possibility of a dialogue – an open limbic and cerebral conversation.

What do you do if you are not a Democrat and not a Republican? We have yet to find a good replacement for this bipartisan placeholder. Democracy merits better solutions – so why is the political discourse insisting on insulting our intelligence and turning what could be invigorating and inspiring into a sequel to beach volleyball at the Summer Olympics?

What’s the 21st century challenge? How do we exercise democracy that is more advanced than a gladiator fight in the coliseum?

© Aviv Shahar

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