The Culture Code, by Clotaire Rapaille, attempts to determine attitudes of a whole culture. It is interesting, and although I am not an expert, his analysis seems truthful, although by its nature the book is based on generalisations, and he seemingly dislikes the French (“The French are extremely critical, they are pessimistic, they are jealous of what others have, and they put little value on personal success.”).
One part of the book is about American presidents, and with the American elections in mind it is worth going back to what he said. Essentially, Americans want as president “a rebellious leader of his people with a strong vision and the will to get them out of trouble.” He explains how the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan fitted into this model.
I wonder whether Barack Obama and Mitt Romney fit this description. The book was written before Obama’s 2008 election, yet Obama’s campaign of Hope and Change seems a perfect example of the quote above. Obama seemed a unique candidate – rebellious – and imprinted a very strong vision in people, albeit a vague one, with the quality of his speeches. He claimed to be able to get Americans out of their malaise.
Four years on, Obama may find it hard to instil the same enthusiasm. It is harder to be rebellious from the White House. Romney, on the other hand, has shown little evidence of even inspiring the Republican base.
On a final point, this section also explains how Americans “decidedly do not want a president who thinks too much. Except under extraordinary circumstances, the more reptilian candidate always wins.” I think Romney ‘wins’ on that front. Obama has been portrayed a ‘thinker’ before, whereas Romney is the instinct-driven businessman.Furthermore, the book says “There is a sense in which the president is the “entertainer-in-chief.” His primary job is to inspire us, to keep our spirits up and to keep us moving in a productive fashion.” Rapaille explains how actors have often done well politically. It is almost needless to say: Obama does better on this score than Romney.
On the basis of what this book says, I propose that Obama will win a second term. However, this post is really designed to test some ideas. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment.