Friday, October 01, 2004

Presidential Debate #1: Evangelist v Maven/(Relater?!)

The first debate, if a little dry, was very interesting from an MRE perspective! It brought the complete differences between the two candidates into sharp relief. Bush's dogged Evangelist-approach provided a sharp contrast to Kerry's Maven (and surprisingly, Relater!) positioning. As expected, they both highlighted the strengths of their core type and attacked the weaknesses of the other's core type.

Bush's Evangelist claim: "We have to be steadfast and strong and stay the course." He constantly brought up the importance of being a decisive leader that everyone (the country, the troops, the world) could follow. His argument was an ethos/character-based one; again an Evangelist trait. Bush's Evangelist crusade (remember, every Evangelist has one!) was "freedom." In fact, Bush used the word no less than 37 times in the debate. Likewise, Bush went after Kerry's Maven weakness of over-thinking a problem: "If America shows uncertainty or weakness the world will drift toward tragedy." "He changes positions. You cannot lead if you send mixed messages." "You cannot win if you change position."

On the other hand, Kerry highlighted the strengths of being a Maven:
"We have a difference of opinion. Certainty can get you in trouble." He used the word "judgment" 6 times and "plan" 20 times and constantly pointed to the differences in thinking and approach. He used logical Maven arguments to back up his positions. Conversely, he highlighted the weakness of the Evangelist; in particular, rushing ino war. Evangelists have a predisposition to "shoot first and ask questions later" and Kerry pointed this out. "It's one thing to be certain. You can be certain and be wrong."

It was also very interesting to note Kerry's Relater claims. In particular, with regard to foreign policy, he continually pushed on the importance of building strong alliances. I don't think Kerry is a Relater at his core, so it's interesting to see how he has brought up this issue to surround Bush's pure Evangelist pitch. In reality, Kerry is unlikely to be as successful on this front as say Clinton, who possessed powerful Relater energy and used it effectively.

The debate has thus brought into sharp relief that the country is really faced with a choice of two very different energies embodied by the candidates. If the country wants an action-oriented Evangelist energy to dominate in the next four years, then Bush is the choice. Alternatively, if a thoughtful-Maven approach is desired with some minor Relater, it's clearly Kerry.

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