Love and politics are closer than people imagine

"We might as well face it: we're addicted to love" is not merely a 1985 song title by Robert Palmer; it is a bedrock characteristic of human nature with roots and principles that cross over into the political sphere.  By the time they reach voting age, many Americans will have experienced the euphoria of falling in love.  Whether people know it or not, in politics, what they are seeking is that same feeling of snuggling up to a candidate into whom they can pour their own dreams, then sit back, starry-eyed, waiting for their hopes to be fulfilled.  Classic examples include Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and John Kennedy.  When Chris Matthews confessed that he felt a thrill up his leg just thinking about Barack Obama, he echoed the sentiments of many men and women.  Just to be clear, this article does not imply any association with either homosexuality or sexist attitudes related to women — the focus is on many other underlying similarities between romantic and political "love."

Non-love, falling out of love, or insufficient love to sustain a strong bond can explain the failure of many politicians.  Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter (in his re-election bid), Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush (re-election bid), Michael Dukakis, Bob Dole, John Kerry, and others spurned by the dating voting public provide evidence to support this theory.  John McCain strutted war hero status, which is customarily a strong component of visceral attraction, but the rest of him was so off-putting as to be neutralizing; he wasn't supple, and he wasn't nice.  While Mitt Romney certainly looked the part of a Bachelorette contestant, he ultimately proved to be overly tame, smarmy, and inauthentic.  Not a good combination for getting past the first date to second base, never mind home plate.  Hillary Clinton's failed run might have largely been attributable to lifelong formerly Democrat men who couldn't help conjuring a haggard, shrill, and hectoring older version of Glen Close in Fatal Attraction as they stepped into the voting booth.

Because of this dynamic, the Democrats face real challenges in 2020.  Many continue to struggle and strain to fall in love with the firebrand warrior auras of Bernie or Liz, but their behaviors are off-putting and counteract necessary tender feelings.  No one wants to go on a date where food must be protected from spittle being spewed across the table by an inappropriately passionate manic suitor who can't control the yelling and is unable to sometimes speak sweetly using an "inside voice."  Those kinds of people are just creepy, since soothing conversation is always part of successful courtship.  Mayor Pete and Marianne Williamson come close to authenticity in this regard, but in the pool of lovelorn potential voters, their total lack of street cred drives away all but the most lonely and starry-eyed.  John Hickenlooper is safe and responsible but apparently incapable of sparking passion.

When former presidents are listed in descending order of popularity, historians name Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Jefferson, Truman, Wilson, Eisenhower, and Andrew Jackson.  A conquering hero can always get a date when he returns home after the big battle, and so it is with politics.  Voters love winners, and women especially do.  Men bow in respect; women swoon in love. 

Trump is admittedly a little different.  Men do kneel in respect, and many women see a strong father figure who can protect them — another classical and historical prerequisite to falling in love throughout the ages.  In 2020, the women's vote will be critical, given Trump's adventurous past.  But usually, competent and protective men with mediocre charisma will succeed over pretenders with high charisma among women who are thoughtful.  For women lacking strong father figures as a foundation for judgment, all bets are off.  Sadly, those are the exact same women who fall for cheaters, beaters, and sociopaths in their actual love lives as well as for debonair Democrat promise-breakers.