Lincoln once said
”Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed”.Abraham Lincoln
He was right then, he is right now.
In politics, the sentiment index is higher than the substance index. You win the sentiment war, you win the election because sentiment is emotional in nature and the antithesis of substance and reason.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton was described by President Obama as the most qualified and prepared person to ever run for president in the United States of America.
She had loads of binders on substantiative issues and was always looking for an opportunity to have a policy conversation with Donald Trump, who was high on sentiment and theatrics. The sentiment on the streets favoured Trump.
He was cast as the ultimate outsider and disruptor who is going to drain the swamp created by corrupt politicians like Hillary, in Washington. Hillary was described by Trump as “Crooked Hillary”, and rallies after rallies, events after events, the shout of “lock her up” rang out.
Though she was not convicted of any crime, the sentiment that she was a corrupt politician gained traction. She lost in the Electoral College and the election.
In 2019, the sentiment index was heavily skewed against Atiku Abubakar and PDP.
Atiku was framed as the ultimate corrupt candidate running on the platform of the most corrupt political party justifiably.
The fact that no court has found him guilty of any crime of corruption, was irrelevant because, in politics, perception is reality, explaining is losing.
Atiku had no opportunity to discuss substance because the sentiment blunted substance. Most Nigerians did not want to listen to what he had to say. The sentiment was heavily in favour of President Buhari because of his reputation and character.
Even the people who were not satisfied with his first-term performance voted for him again because they believed he was rebuilding the country from the destruction caused by PDP.
Every time sentiment and substance are in conflict, sentiment wins because too many people don’t pay attention to substance.
To win, control the sentiment.
We are losing the sentiment war right now by oversubscribing on the substance in the emotional stock exchange where sentiment is more valuable than substance.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comment section below.