Politics today has become a battle of politicians attempting to control the cultural tendencies of the society they represent. We see this disparity constantly through political advertisements, films, books, music, and even in the current news media.
Through each of these mediums, storytelling is used as a tool to change the hearts and minds of millions of voters across America. However, this tool can be used for both good and evil—all depending upon one who wields the pen.
In the hands of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), storytelling is used to create a sense of maliciousness in Americans and to make you feel as though you are a victim of society. This was prevalent throughout our last election when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continuously pointed to individual instances of misfortune that citizens, or even illegal immigrants, were facing.
When answering a woman’s question on healthcare, Sanders would appeal to the affectionate side of listeners by offering “free healthcare” for any individual with a preexisting condition, even though they had not paid into the system. This story makes Sanders sound kind and generous to viewers for giving a woman the “free healthcare” that she desperately needs, but this narrative conveniently asks you to forget about other citizens who are forced to subsidize this woman’s care.
On the Republican side, President Donald Trump, along with others, have taken a similar position on healthcare as Bernie Sanders. “People are not going to die on the sidewalk if I’m president, okay,” Trump said. This story insinuates it should be a true fear of Americans that a lack of subsidizing health care will lead to mass deaths occurring on American streets.
That is not to say that telling a compelling story is a sin or that it shouldn’t ever be used in politics.
For instance, Texas Senator Ted Cruz telling the story of Kate Steinle’s death can help further secure U.S. borders and increase jail time for illegal immigrants. This not only tugs at the heartstrings of the American citizen, but it also helps to protect all citizens rather than just an individual.
However, most Republican attempts to communicate with the everyday American voter fail due to a heavy focus on facts and statistics rather than emotion appeal.
If more young, conservative Republicans work their way into today’s media, we have the the potential to have a much larger effect on society.
Storytelling drives human aspiration and can turn dreams into a pseudo-reality. In conjunction with facts and data, using this tool of storytelling properly can sway even the most partisan person you may know.
Try telling a story that appeals to human emotion the next time you get into a debate over a hot topic. It could give your argument the moral edge needed to win.