Adlai Stevenson’s Quote for the Day

This quote from Stevenson appears at the beginning of Chapter 2 in Drew Westen’s must read book The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation

When the eloquent Adlai Stevenson was running for president against Dwight Eisenhower, a woman gushed to the Democratic candidate after a rally, “Every thinking person will be voting for you.” Stevenson supposedly replied: “Madam, that is not enough, I need a majority.”

Another excerpt from the book follows as Thought for the Day (and the next 16 months.) You may get tired of the comments I will be making about the book coming out at periodic intervals while I read the book at a slowly savoring speed. This is the whole concept that Lakoff’s book barely nicked the target of. Westen is getting the bullseye, over and over. Go get yours and regain some sanity.

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5 Responses to Adlai Stevenson’s Quote for the Day

  1. rembob says:

    Recently, Charlie Crist (Florida’s Republican Governor) and his Republican cronies in the Florida Legislature borrowed a tactic from the national Republican party.
    They passed a “property tax cut” and trumpeted that it was a gift to poor homeowners who were in danger of losing their houses due to extremely high
    property taxes. In fact it was a gift to the richest property owners. The average savings to homeowners in Florida will be about $100. Crist received at least 2 million dollars from the Florida real estate lobby. Over the next few years Floridians will loose city and county parks, libraries, etc. The rich will get richer.
    The Democratic Party needs to pay more attention to the damage that is being done by Republicans at the state level.

  2. Ginny Cotts says:


    Great example. I think a lot of Dems are very aware of these problems at local and state levels – made all the worse by federal funding changes that leave the states with bigger chunks of those programs to support. With property taxes, the really big looser IMO is public educations.

    What Westen is doing with his book is explaining what has been learned about how the brain works and how to communicate more effectively.

    One of the first endorsements of the book is from Howard Dean, noting that with the rebuilding of the party in all 50 states, “This book outlines a more intractable problem: how to actually talk to voters…”

    As constituents and grassroots activists, we need to read it and make sure our candidates read it – so we can bring about some major improvements in the American discussions and communications.

  3. Darrell Prows says:

    This may or may not have been addressed in that book, but the fact that government has been bad mouthed by the right wing so viciously for so many years also has a role to play. A lot of people look at government like a smelly campground outhouse. It’s okay when you need it, but they mostly hold their nose and look the other way if they have to walk past.

    For those people, you can phrase yourself any way you want, but they will only pay attention if something happens to change their perspective. It seems to me that this group makes up about half of the population, and mostly runs center and left.

  4. Ginny Cotts says:


    That is the sort of thing that Westen is addressing. How did they manage to get that message so firmly ingrained in too many American minds? (Did you mean center and right?)

    How do we go about countering it? Getting their attention can be done with words – it’s how they were deluded into believing the ‘all government is bad’ meme. Westen does an excellent job of explaining the sequence of messages that are successful and why.

    One of the reasons there has been a vote shift is because enough as happened to get more people to pay attention.

    Now that we have their attention, and BushCo seems determined to keep digging their grave with new attention grabbing stupid moves at least more than once a week- if not daily- we need to learn how to communicate our ideas and concerns effectively.

    Another aspect that needs to be factored in is the media repetition. Every GOP candidate, from dog catcher to president, has been talking about this for decades. The media, especially right wing radio, has been an echo chamber with major amplification. It’s a lot like popular music. If the artist can get the radio stations to play their song enough, it had a good chance of becoming popular.

    Which is why as many Dems as possible need to read “Political Brain” so we all talk to other voters in ways they will listen to, understand and agree with what we are saying. This is NOT Lakof’s over simplified linguistic approach.

  5. Darrell Prows says:

    I think that the people who have tuned out, and are available to, somehow, be brought back into the political side of life are more than enough votes to keep the country out of the hands of the right wing for at least an entire generation.