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Meet the angriest man running for president - no it's not Trump

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What better time to gauge the emotional profile of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), an avowed Socialist, than during his Labor Day speech to the AFL-CIO in New Hampshire? After all, the independent junior senator from Vermont, who's running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, has a website home page that focuses on economics and the working class. Creating jobs, raising wages, "taking on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class" is what Sanders says his campaign is all about.

Does he back up his heated words emotionally? You bet. On Labor Day, Sanders, as usual, comes out swinging. Literally. He uses a double-barreled hand gesture for emphasis - both hands clenched into fists and raised level with his head. Add a barrage of finger-pointing to drive home his resistance to the status quo, and you've got Sanders's body language nailed.

But that's just the obvious stuff. Sanders's somewhat more subtle facial expressions also mark him as the angriest candidate in this year's election cycle. When I facially coded all the candidates' campaign launch speeches, more than half of Sanders' address fell on the anger spectrum - from annoyed to frustrated to outraged.

Sanders registers anger far more than any other emotion. Watch how his chin thrusts upward during or between sentences, often as his lips press together. How tightly he presses them together is a barometer of whether an issue makes him merely frustrated or downright angry. Then round out the package with a furrowed brow and narrowed eyes.

It used to be that American presidential candidates obligingly smiled to the cameras and the crowds. It showed you were calm and cool, upbeat - a winner.

But not Sanders. Though he is attracting large crowds at campaign events, now as much as five times the size of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's biggest audiences, it doesn't get him to lighten up. Since he is insisting that he won't be bought off by wealthy donors, he has pulled in contributions from more than 400,000 people. Yet that also doesn't seem to soften his anger.

Sanders is succeeding beyond most political analysts' expectations. The senator admits that he is "stunned" to have pulled even with Clinton in recent Iowa polls. He is ahead in New Hampshire - which, granted, is Vermont's neighbor.

The amazing thing, however, is that, despite this success, Sanders appears to have gotten even angrier since his campaign launch. It's almost as if he's the candidate of wrath. It seems that his strong support might only have strengthened his resolve to continue his fight against the long odds and beat the "establishment."

To understand that phenomenon, let's examine what anger means and how it works. Of the seven core emotions - happiness, surprise, anger, fear, sadness, disgust and contempt - there are only two approach emotions: happiness and anger. To hug or to hit. In kicking-off his campaign, Sanders was occasionally happy. Now that's gone. It's been replaced by a desire to smack down those responsible for income and wealthy inequality, for a declining middle class, for big money dominating politics. This appears to have become the driving force behind Sanders's campaign.

That figures. Anger is about wanting to be in control of your life and make progress. Sure, you can get angry because you're confused and, therefore, don't feel in control. But Sanders isn't confused. Instead, he's angry because he wants the country to make a certain kind of progress, and he's increasingly angry to the extent that he feels the barriers to progress are unfair. It's perceived injustice that animates Sanders, who's as given to grumpy feistiness as Donald Trump is to jeering and pouting.

To really grasp what Sanders is about, you need to turn to behavioral economics - a Nobel prize-winning version of economics that factors in emotions when contemplating people's decision-making behavior. One principle of behavioral economics is inequality aversion. Research has shown that people's instinct for wanting fairness and justice is so strong that it can override all other considerations. People will harm their own self-interests, for example, and break off an otherwise profitable deal to avoid letting somebody else get the better of them in negotiations.

Feelings like outrage and vengeance are relevant then, while the motivations vary from altruism ("Let's all play fair and be nice") to injured self-esteem ("I'm no less important than you are!").

The Sanders campaign isn't an updated version of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It's more like Occupy Main Street, Too. Emotions are contagious. Studies show that letting off steam doesn't necessarily cause a person to calm down. In fact getting angry can make a person that much angrier, building the kind of emotional momentum that Sanders's campaign events are feasting on. (And maybe Trump as well.)

Some pundits have compared Sanders to Senator Eugene McCarthy's quixotic run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968. But emotionally that's all wrong. McCarthy was aloof and wry. (When I asked him in 1988 about which of the seven deadly sins was the deadliest in politics, he answered, "Envy. In politics, sloth is a virtue.") This is a far cry from the animated and cantankerous Sanders.

On Labor Day, Sanders used words like "grotesque" when talking about the current levels of income inequality and talked about the need for a "massive" redistribution of wealth. Sanders is going for the jugular.

Happiness might be deemed a luxury in the fight he's waging against injustice. It might even be "off-emotion" in a campaign where Sanders looks ready to duke it out against the billionaires.

The more that Sanders gathers crowds and small donations, paradoxically the less happy he appears. Sanders told the Labor Day rally only once that "we're going to win this election." As the crowd erupted in cheers, then, and only then, did Sanders leave anger. He smiled.

But it wasn't an actual smile. It looked more like a smirk. It seemed to reveal the senator's contempt for all the usual "we'll win" campaign claptrap. Even as he was using it.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The writer of this opinion article wrote a book titles "Emotionomics: Winning Hearts and Minds" about how businesses can "leveraging emotions in business".

It seems that he likes emotions when businesses can profit over them but is against them when a politician such as Sanders uses them to be elected on a platform to introduce policies that reign in the power of corporations.

As a side note, Sanders and his supporters seem calm compared to the Tea Party crowd. No racial hatred and how many of his followers gather with their rifles? I wonder if Dan Hill wrote about them?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

more than half of Sanders’ address fell on the anger spectrum - from annoyed to frustrated to outraged.

- Dan Hill's essay deserves an encore with Trump, as he suggests.

Sanders isn’t confused. Instead, he’s angry because he wants the country to make a certain kind of progress, and he’s increasingly angry to the extent that he feels the barriers to progress are unfair.

- That man should run for President.

In fact getting angry can make a person that much angrier, building the kind of emotional momentum that Sanders’s campaign events are feasting on. (And maybe Trump as well.)

- Mr. Hill illuminates the Trump campaign perfectly here. What powers Trump is an unending wave of anger in the Trumpmania house of horrors at Trumpland. (right next to Fantasy Island)

Sanders' pique is based on injustice. Trump's pique is performance to dupe the dopes. Who's angry now?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The voice of American capitalist greed has spoken. This is not really an article about Bernie Sanders as much as it is about the fears of the 1% that a fraction of their wealth might be chipped if Sanders becomes president

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kcjapanSEP. 20, 2015 - 08:50AM JST

Mr. Hill illuminates the Trump campaign perfectly here. What powers Trump is an unending wave of anger in the Trumpmania house of horrors at Trumpland. (right next to Fantasy Island)

Well said!

Also, I wonder if maybe some of what's fueling Sanders's anger is that from day 1 he has been the only candidate to really campaign strictly on policy issues, and yet despite going from being the guy who was a bit of a joke to a real contender against the Clinton political machine, he's still not really being taken seriously in media coverage.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

despite going from being the guy who was a bit of a joke to a real contender against the Clinton political machine, he's still not really being taken seriously in media coverage.

For some reason the media seems to accept the republican assertion that Sanders isn't a real candidate, and have decided not to report on him as a result. Which is ridiculous considering he is the best candidate out there right now.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I would love to see Sanders and Trump get the nominations to run for president. They won't, of course, but despite their differences they are the two candidates who want what is best for the regular working people and not the cosseted insiders, and who (to borrow Trump's tagline) want to make America great again. And they're the two that the media treats with the most disdain and disrespect.

I'm tired of the Bush and Clinton families and their cronies. Trump will get my vote over Hillary, and if it's Sanders versus Jeb Bush, Sanders will get my vote.

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People will harm their own self-interests, for example, and break off an otherwise profitable deal to avoid letting somebody else get the better of them in negotiations.

"People" is the operative word here. Despite repeated requests, Trump still refuses to release a DNA sample to dispel questions regarding his humanity.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He thinks this represents anger?

Wait till the peasants storm the gaits with pitchforks and torches...

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ThonTaddeoSEP. 20, 2015 - 04:46PM JST I would love to see Sanders and Trump get the nominations to run for president. They won't, of course, but despite their differences they are the two candidates who want what is best for the regular working people and not the cosseted insiders, and who (to borrow Trump's tagline) want to make America great again.

I've yet to see any evidence that Trump has given the slightest thought to what's best for anyone. Oh, of course he says he's going to make America great again (as though any politician would ever say otherwise. "Oh, um... America is already pretty awesome... my campaign promise is to not screw it up too badly. Vote for me!"), but it's pretty clear by this point that the only thing Trump cares about is sitting in the spotlight doing whatever he wants.

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Bernie Sanders is a lot of things, but he is not a man who will one day be president.

It is funny to see that people here associate the republican party with the top 1%, and associate the democrat party with the common people. It is funny because in Washington, most members of the 1% club in the congress and senate are democrats.

Funnier still is that most people are gullible enough to believe what politicians say, and that there is a fundamental difference between politicians just because they call themselves democrats or republicans. Be it Bush, Clinton, Sanders, or Trump, these people don't give a rat's backside for the poor fools who vote for them. They represent themselves, first and foremost.

Like any politician going back to the time of Plato, they get elected by telling the people what they want to hear, and once they are elected, they spend the people's money as they please, mainly to repay those who donated to their campaigns, or to curry favours and kickbacks for themselves and their relatives. You will never see a politician leave office as a poorer person that when they entered, and quite a few have become very wealthy while "serving" the public.

When they aren't stealing your money, they are busy creating fears and social issues to divide and control the ignorant masses. And while these ignorant masses are hating each other for no good reason, their elected representatives can manipulate them into reelecting them for another term. The arguments in the above posts is a perfect example of how brainwashed people are.

What is most funny is that people are so ridiculously stupid. They are stupid because they fall for this bullshit act year after year, for a couple thousand years, and never catch on. Hitler had an interesting comment on this phenomenon, he said "what a wonderful thing for rulers that men are stupid!"

So you can call yourself a republican or a democrat, a conservative or a liberal, wear whatever hat pleases you. Let the world know what a tool you are, and that you have been fully indoctrinated into one half or the other of the impotent mass which thinks that casting a vote make a difference.

Do you think Sanders or Clinton will do anything about the 1%? They are the 1%. Nothing can be done to reign in and control the top 1%. They have always existed, and they always will, and if you think that laws which make it harder to become rich help the poor, you are as stupid as most people are. Making it harder to be rich merely removes much of the competition which the current top 1% has to fight with, and does nothing at all to improve the lives of the poor. They get more, everyone else gets less, in other words, "the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer". If you want to stick it to the top 1%, you should be making it easier to become rich, not more difficult.

But nothing will change, because, in politics, nothing ever has.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Sangetsu you are right but wrong ,, everything changes it is just a matter of time .

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I don't think the Donald is angry. I think he's an arrogant, rude bully who is having fun pandering to people's frustrations or enraging others. Of course, after the last GOP debate, he might not be having quite as much fun as he'd like, since the other kids on the playground all got together & pushed back. Bullies hate when that happens. It hurts their feelings.

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@sangetsu03 Most people will not become rich. Human failings may not change but plenty else had over the last century. I don't think it's stupid to believe that Sanders might be sincere. Some people often associate Republicans with "common folk" and liberals with the intelligentsia. However, people also often believe Republicans side with the rich and democrats with the underprivileged because some of the policies of FDR, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson created the semblance of a social safety net and advanced civil rights. These policies significantly changed people's lives. By contrast, Republicans are keen to roll back welfare programs like social security. They also took in the racist southern Democrats and employed the "southern strategy" to appeal to racists at large. There are a lot of stupid people in the world. But a significant number of partisans vote for policy and disregard the possible hidden venality of politicians because it's irrelevant to some degree. I'm saying all this as someone who's not particularly hopeful about politics these days.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"it's pretty clear by this point that the only thing Trump cares about is sitting in the spotlight doing whatever he wants." - comments

Since there has been a request for a DNA sample, to test the species family of the Rump, it is clear Rump shares the same behaviors of human three year olds as the observation above confirms.

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I don't think it's stupid to believe that Sanders might be sincere.

How do you define "sincere"? Sanders knows he can't win. He knows that he is too old to be appealing to a great number of voters, and that anyone on the far left or far right is not going to be elected. He is not running to become president, he is running to collect as much money as possible in campaign donations. How much will he collect? If he makes it to the first cut, he will get a couple hundred million dollars. And where does this money go? It will go to a lot of friends and relatives, and likely more than a little will find it's way back to him.

Most of the candidates running know that they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election, they are only running because they can count on people being stupid enough to bet a lot of money on a losing horse. In politics you don't have to win an election to steal the people's money, losing works almost as well.

Sangetsu you are right but wrong ,, everything changes it is just a matter of time .

Some things change, but not politics. Politics has been called the "eternal sea" since Greek times. Like the inscription on the gate to hell: "before me, things create were none, except those things eternal, and eternal I endure" (followed by "abandon all hope, ye who enter here").

The one-precent know this, whether they like it or not is irrelevant, it is what it is. The rules of the game are to lie as much as you please so as to manipulate the lower classes, as they have the votes, and twist the arms of the upper classes, as they have the money. It doesn't matter which party is in control; republican, democrat, or socialist, beliefs and ideologies exist only among the masses, those at the top of the hill believe only in money and power, and they wear whatever hat they have to wear, or say whatever empty words they have to say to get these things. Sanders is a member of this group, as is Clinton, Bush, Biden, and so on. The only one who is not part of this cabal is Trump. He belongs to a different cabal, but not a worse one.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@sangetsu

He belongs to a different cabal, but not a worse one.

He belongs to a unique cabal, maybe a one-off: he bankrupted a casino!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@sangetsu03 Sincere as in that he believes running will advance progressive values he sincerely believes in. His donor list gives you some idea. But, yeah, he could be just in it for profit...maybe twirling an imaginary mustache after giving a speech on the minimum wage. Do you have any evidence to support what your saying? I was a Wellstone guy too. Maybe you think Wellstone was the same deal? I'm curious, do you also think that Hunter S. Thompson was duped by McGovern? Having said all that, I do think the corrupting influence of money on American politics has corroded American society, maybe beyond repair. But I don't think it had to be that way - scummy as most politicians are.

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"People" is the operative word here. Despite repeated requests, Trump still refuses to release a DNA sample to dispel questions regarding his humanity.

I don't usually agree with you on most issues, but that has got to be the absolute best and funniest statements of the year! ROFL! Kudos!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bernie Sanders: Wall Street Greed, High Drug Prices Killing Americans!

Bernie Sanders has a heated discussion about high drug prices and Universal Health Care. “We spend far more per capita on health care than do people in any other country. Thirty million people today have zero health insurance and many more are under-insured. How do we create Universal Health Care for every man, woman and child, and do it in a cost effective way? Other countries do it, the United States of America can do it. The private insurance companies don’t like this idea. We’re going to put them out of business. And the drug companies that are ripping off the American people and charging us the highest prices in the world don’t like the idea. Tough luck! The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans,” Sanders said.

Watch the entire CBS This Morning Interview On YouTube: https://youtu.be/lfNpWEqF7-g

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One principle of behavioral economics is inequality aversion.

So... shouldn't all Americans who care about the Constitution dislike inequality? Does the author like inequality? This really sounds like a bunch of drivel, whatever one thinks about Bernie Sanders.

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