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Mazie Hirono Says Democrats Are Too Smart to Connect to Voters

On Tuesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) tried to explain why Democrats have trouble convincing their base to care that much about the Supreme Court. She suggested that Democrats are too smart to connect to voters, while Republicans just channel their rage and connect with their base. In other words, all those darned "deplorables" just don't think.

"One of the things that we Democrats have a really hard time is connecting to people’s hearts instead of here," Hirono said, motioning toward her head. "We’re really good at shoving out all of the information that touch people here [the head] but not here [the heart]."

"And I have been saying at all of our Senate Democratic retreats that we need to speak to the heart, not in a manipulative way, not in a way that brings forth everybody’s fears and resentments, but truly to speak to the heart so that people know that we’re actually on their side. We have a really hard time doing that," the senator continued.

She argued that Democrats cannot connect with people because "we Democrats know so much. That is true. We have to ... tell everybody how smart we are. So we have a tendency to be very left-brain."

Tragically, she argued, "That is not how people make decisions."

Hirono referenced "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt, in which Haidt argues that people are driven by an "elephant" of emotion, while the conscious mind is more like a rider on that elephant, rationalizing decisions.

"The elephant is making all the decisions. The rider simply explains the elephant’s decisions. Republicans speak to the elephant, the Democrats speak to the rider," Hirono suggested.

That is not what Haidt wrote. Haidt, who tends to fall more on the liberal side, did suggest that conservatives have a few more emotional contact points to resonate with people, but he did not suggest that Republicans are less smart than Democrats or that Democrats do not also use emotional connection.

According to Haidt, there are five moral foundations that connect to people's hearts: care, cherishing and protecting people; fairness, rendering justice and not cheating; loyalty to group, family, or nation; authority or respect to tradition and legitimate authority; and sanctity or purity, a right revulsion toward actually disgusting things, the opposite of degradation.

Republicans have an edge on loyalty (patriotism) and authority, but Democrats generally have the edge on care and fairness, to some degree. Sanctity tends to favor Republicans, but not always.

Haidt did not argue that Democrats are smart while Republicans are dumb and emotional. Hirono has twisted the lessons of "The Righteous Mind" to favor a Hillary Clinton-esque disdain for the darned "deplorables."