“Anger & Racial Politics" Transcript

Guest: Dr. Antoine Banks

(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)

Antoine Banks: You want your base to feel angry and hopeful and the opponent’s base to feel anxious about their candidate.

Betty Teng: Welcome to another episode of Mind of State. I’m Betty Teng.

Michael Epstein: And I’m Michael Epstein and together we’re your hosts. Here at Mind of State, we don’t so much discuss the news as psychoanalyze it by talking to some of the smartest, most interesting minds in mental health and the social sciences. Hi, Betty.

Betty: Hi, Michael.

Michael: So today we have with us Antoine Banks, who is an associate professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, where he is also the director of the Government and Politics Research Lab. We’ve invited Antoine to Mind of State because a few years back he wrote a book, Anger and Racial Politics, that I think was an amazingly prescient work because it saw something important in America that I think a lot of people missed, which was this unexpected link between anger and race and public policy. And really how anger defines and even motivates a good portion of how white America or some part of white America thinks about race. So with all of that in mind, Antoine, welcome to Mind of State.

Antoine: Thank you, Michael and Betty. Thank you for that great introduction. I’m excited to be here.

Michael: Did I get it right? Let’s start there. Did I, have I mischaracterized you or your work at all?

Antoine: No, I think you did an amazing job of explaining my work.

Michael: You’re done. That’s all we needed from you.

Betty: You know, Antoine, don’t give him a head start there.

Michael: You don’t want to feed the beast. Don’t feed the beast, dude.

Betty: Don’t give him a big head. He’s got one already.

Antoine: Well that’s, confidence is good. Confidence is good.

Betty: It’s a good way to begin. Good way to begin.

Michael: So listen, what was so interesting about what your book and the work you’ve done subsequent to that is that you asked, I think, a really interesting outlier question that few others asked, which was if you, and this sounds weird, but if you put whites in an angry state, right, you make them angry, and anger that has nothing to do with race, will it still activate racial attitudes, was the core question you were asking. So in other words, does making white people angry make race play a larger role in our politics? Can I just start with why did you even think to ask that question and then go from what you found out?

Betty: Yeah, I’m curious about that too.

Antoine: Sure. The reason I ask that question is because I wanted to be clear that the emotion itself was driving the effect of race and not the attitudes or objects related to the emotion. So if I made people angry about politics or made people angry about race, it’s less clear whether the emotion itself is playing a role or whether it’s the intensity they might feel about politics or their attitudes about race that’s driving the effect. So in some ways it’s a much cleaner test in terms of showing that it’s the emotion as opposed to intensity or just beliefs about race driving it. So that was one reason from an empirical standpoint. Another one was just to show how strong the connection is, that when people learn their attitudes, particularly about race, emotions play a big part of that. And people have very strong attitudes about race and so I would expect the emotions to be just as strong.

Michael: So the emotion triggers thinking about race, even if the emotion has nothing to do with it.

Antoine: Yes. So when, basically what I did was, when I ask, particularly whites, to just write about things that made them feel angry, just things in their general life. So it could be an example that I’ve found in a book, it could be the kids not taking out the trash, or a partner cheating on them, or being fired from their job. So things that really had nothing to do with race. It still caused their racial attitudes to be more salient. And so I think that surprised a lot of people. But when you think about how mood and emotions and memory work it’s not that surprising.

Betty: Now, in terms of how that made race more salient, how did you discover that? What were you looking at when the kids didn’t take out the trash or there’s an argument between spouses, where did race come into that that clued you in?

Antoine: So basically what I did was I wanted to see what the effect of race was absent emotion. So this is a baseline control condition where simply in this baseline condition, I had them just write about things that made them feel relaxed. And I wanted to see the relationship between their existing racial attitudes and, say, their positions on affirmative action, welfare, government aid to blacks.

Betty: So these are racially charged political policies–

Antoine: Yes.

Betty: –that you wanted to get. So in a calm state, you’re asking people about what their positions are on race-based or racially charged political policies.

Antoine: Yes. So I want to see what the relationship was between their existing racial attitudes and their positions on race. And I also looked at healthcare and immigration. So there we can get a sense of just what the relationship would be in a baseline state, which is, in this case, a relaxed state. There’s already a strong relationship there. So when people who are racially resentful or conservative, when they see a policy position dealing with race, it causes that link to be struck. I mean, there’s a link that occurs. So my expectation was, well when I made them angry, did that relationship get even stronger? And so when I put them and I asked them to write about things that made them feel angry or put them in an angry state, did we see a stronger connection that was already there in a baseline present in an angry state? And that’s essentially what I’ve shown throughout the book, is that when I make whites angry, even if that anger is not directed at race, it makes that relationship that exists between people’s views about race and policy much, much stronger.

Michael: Does it shift their views about policy? I mean, if I make you angry, if I’m a politician and I don’t want there to be, I don’t know, say, affirmative action or I do, but if I make you angry, are you then less inclined? I mean, it’s I guess it’s a chicken egg question. Making somebody angry, can that turn them against a policy that they might otherwise support or not not care about?

Antoine: No, it doesn’t change their position. So it’s not going to make someone, let’s say, who has very hostile views towards blacks, if you make them angry, they’re going to now be somewhat sympathetic to blacks on policy positions. In fact, they hardened their positions, so it makes them even more racially polarized or have a stronger position in terms of, say, a more conservative position on affirmative action or welfare than it originally would have. A nice example of this is the healthcare debate where research has shown, particularly Tesler and Sears, more specifically Tesler, where people’s opinions on Obama’s proposal, the Affordable Care Act, was pretty racially polarized, that racially resentful or prejudiced whites and racially liberal whites were pretty divided on the issue. But when you infuse, what I find is, when you infuse anger into the debate, that polarization effect increases significantly. It causes racial conservatives to take a more opposing position than they would if anger wasn’t present. And it causes racial liberals to take a more supportive position than they would if there wasn’t anger.

Betty: So anger is a driver, a bit of a fuel to this fire. It causes white liberals to be even more liberal, causes white conservatives or those who have racial animus to be even more prejudiced.

Antoine: Yes. So, I mean, and I think that was one impressive finding in the book, is that even for issues that are particularly racialized or the debate has been racialized, so there is this polarization effect already when it comes to race, anger even magnifies that even more, which is, to me, is a harder test to find because people’s positions are already racialized and polarized. And when you make them angry, it gets even more so.

Michael: You know, I think it’s something that we’ve been discussing quite a bit, which is emotion. I mean, one of the surprises of our journey here on Mind of State is that, you know, you enter into policy, you think it’s all about rationality, you think it’s about policy, you think all these adults, man, we do not pay enough attention to emotion and how emotion plays into politics. If I can go, there’s an example you put in the book, that, man, I don’t know where I was in 2010 when this story happened because I didn’t remember it, but when I read it, and then I went back and did some research, McClatchy wrote a story. So you wrote about on the eve of the Affordable Care Act vote in Congress, Representative John Lewis, who represents the Georgia 5th Congressional District and, you know, who grew up in Alabama and is, I mean, an American hero.

Betty: Civil Rights Movement leader.

Michael: Right, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC. He was one of the big six on the March on Washington in ‘63 with Dr. King and James Farmer and A. Philip Randolph and Roy Wilkins. He is an icon and rightly so. So you recount an incident that’s not from the Civil Rights Era and has seemingly nothing to do with race. It has, it’s about health care reform, right. I mean, first of all, it seems an entire policy question. But let me, if I can, and I apologize for talking so much, but I went back, and this is a story from March 20th, 2010 from McClatchy and it reads, “Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol angry over the proposed health care bill shouted” the N-word, I’m not gonna say it “Saturday at U.S. Representative John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and a Civil Rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during a march in Alabama in the 1960s. Protesters shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, spat at at least one black lawmaker, and confronted an openly gay congressman with taunts. As he was leaving the Congressional Office Building, protesters shouted, kill the bill, kill the bill. A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying, kill the bill and then the N-word.” What the hell? I mean, I was floored when I heard this story. Is this, Antoine, what started your journey?

Antoine: Actually, no. No, I mean, it’s interesting. When I first got my job at the University of Maryland, my mom came to visit me and I took her to, you know, being academic, I wanted to show her, take her to the museums and, you know, learn about history and culture that D.C. offers and the U.S. offers. And so our visit there was a Tea Party rally, the first one that I’ve ever been to, that I experienced, and the thing that kind of stood out to me is just how angry these people were. And this was not even part, I was still working on a book and I didn’t have anything on healthcare or the Tea Party at the time, but just to see the anger that was being espoused and the offensive signs they had about Obama, showed me that this was something that I needed to look at even more. And then so, as the debate on healthcare grew and these instances with John Lewis occurred, it just made sense from my work about the connection between anger and race.

Betty: Antoine, there’s something that I wanted to ask you, you know, in 2008, you’re focusing on whites, and I know you’ve written papers focusing on blacks in anger and politics, but for this particular study, why were you looking at whites and race and anger?

Antoine: Another motivating factor was just to see whether racism is different than other explanations for opposition to racial policies. You know, there’s a debate and a discipline about can you distinguish between subtle forms of racism, which scholars and academics tend to refer to as racial resentment or symbolic racism or modern racism, and can you distinguish that from just conservatism and race neutral conservatism.

Michael: I think it may be helpful to define that for people now. So like there’s the, when we think of racism, or when I do, the traditional sort of Bull Connor, you know, old racism.

Betty: Yeah, what’s symbolic racism?

Michael: Well, the old kind is like, you know, you think of blacks as Stepin Fetchit, right, Antoine, and the degrading, dehumanizing view of African-Americans.

Antoine: So, pre-Civil Rights research has shown that a lot of the dominant view about prejudice was more biological in what people refer to as old fashioned, that the groups were different from a biological standpoint. And that’s why blacks and whites weren’t equal. And so that kind of fueled Jim Crow and segregation–

Michael: And the miscegenation laws, you know, that your mixing of races was impure.

Antoine: That fueled that as well, that was the reason to keep the races separate. And so that type of thinking grew out of favor, particularly during the Civil Rights Movement and politicians taking a strong stance against segregation and Jim Crow and this way of thinking. And so there was the debate about whether racism has gone away, right. These beliefs weren’t there. But political scientists and psychologists were interested about whether a new form of racism has emerged and whether that new form of racism isn’t so much in this biological difference, but this difference in character and values. And so when we think about symbolic racism or racial resentment, it’s not necessarily that whites harbor these views that blacks are biologically different. It’s just that blacks don’t have the same character as whites, that they don’t work as hard or they don’t, they have a propensity for violence and things of that nature. And so that’s what people would consider this new form of prejudice and racism to exhibit.

Michael: Right. So the notion of symbolic racism is that post-Civil Rights, blacks no longer face prejudice, they no longer face discrimination, so their failure is their own fault.

Antoine: Yes.

Michael: They’re unwilling to work hard like the rest of us.

Antoine: Yes.

Betty: And so we are looking at the 70s, the 80s, the 90s with this rise in symbolic racism, these attitudes. I’m thinking about the Reagan era and the welfare queens–

Michael: Exactly.

Betty: — and this attitude. And so then the policies that are attached to it is, as you put it, welfare, affirmative action. And so this healthcare reform–

Michael: You’re not earning it, you’re given it.

Betty: So healthcare reform is interesting. I mean, it’s, you know, it became Obamacare, but it started with Mitt Romney. How is health care reform racialized?

Antoine: That’s a great question. So people have been interested in this. There’s been two arguments proposed about how that’s occurred. One is that because Obama has attached himself to the policy it has racialized. So it’s–

Betty: Simply because of Obama, the color of Obama’s skin or the perception of the color of Obama’s skin.

Antoine: It’s called, what people refer to it as the spillover of race, I think it’s called the spillover of racialization theory. Don’t quote me on that. But basically, the argument is, and this is developed by Mark Tesler, that any policy that Obama’s attached himself to has become racialized. And so healthcare is a policy that he’s attached himself to and it’s become, in that regard, racialized.

Michael: He should endorse Trump then.

Betty: That is almost like a sci-fi solution.

Michael: A solution to all our problems.

Betty: It’s like a boomerang effect.

Michael: Anybody out there who has any connection to Barack Obama, please call him up and tell him to endorse Trump. End this nightmare.

Antoine: Yeah, that would be really interesting.

Betty: I mean the thing is–

Michael: Jordan Peele. That would be like the next Jordan Peele movie.

Antoine: Yeah, that would be a horror movie.

Michael: A horror movie.

Betty: That would be a different version of Get Out.

Michael: Exactly.

Betty: Get Trump Out.

Michael: The sequel.

Betty: 2020.

Antoine: So that’s one explanation–

Michael: It’s amazing.

Antoine: –given, is that just because Obama has attached himself to this policy, it’s become racialized.

Michael: It seems to me that what you’re talking about is the perception that government has put its thumb on the scale and, therefore, created disadvantage for some whites, their perception, and an unfair advantage to people who, let’s be frank, have been enslaved and discriminated for hundreds of years. So it’s a weird and pernicious lie. But, can I read one quote from someone, but I’m not going to tell you who the quote is, Betty, I don’t know if I showed you this quote or not already, but–

Betty: I think you did, but I don’t remember so–

Michael: Okay, so this is a quote from this period of symbolic racism where as, Antoine, you were saying, you know, the old kind of racism, the biological racism, was no longer allowed publicly, at least it was disavowed, and a different kind had sort of emerged. So here’s the quote, “A well-educated black man–” this was said in an interview on national news, “A well-educated black man has a tremendous advantage over a well educated white in terms of the job market. If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really do believe they have an actual advantage today.”

Betty: I remember this quote.

Michael: Antoine, do you know who said that?

Antoine: I remember that. Was this recent?

Michael: No, 1989.

Betty: But you’re warm.

Michael: You’re going the right direction, dude.

Antoine: Okay, was this Trump? Was this Trump in 1989?

Michael: Donald Trump, in an interview with Bryant Gumbel, said that, that if he was starting off today, he would love to be a well-educated black man.

Betty: In 1989.

Michael: Blacks have tremendous advantage over well-educated whites.

Antoine: So he would rather be a well-educated black man. That’s what he would want to be.

Michael: Any black man has an advantage over well-educated whites in the job market. That’s what we’re talking about, right. You mentioned that–

Antoine: I mean, I think that we, I mean, there’s a belief among a segment of whites that they are being discriminated against, that certain groups are getting privileges which aren’t, they believe, they’re not allowed to get or they’re not able to get. And so that, for them, that is very anger-inducing and frustrating.

Michael: And you could see it with Trump 30 years ago.

Antoine: Yeah, I mean, this was a view that a lot of people had to opposing affirmative action and policies that, you know, in some ways tried to remedy past injustices. I think it’s interesting because, you know, we’ve been a country, you know, for hundreds of years where blacks and whites were unequal. There was explicit forms of inequality. And I think as a country, we’ve thought to rectify that inequality, and there’s been a debate about whether that should be met with equality or inequality. So in some ways, to rectify inequality between whites and blacks, are we supposed to just put whites and blacks on the same playing field and that should fix the problem? Or do we need to help blacks move further ahead and give them a little bit more to right past wrongs? And I think what a lot of Republicans have done is, in some ways, demonizing to try to push blacks ahead a little bit further, that this in some ways is hurting whites.

Betty: And is translated into discrimination against whites.

Antoine: Yes.

Betty: This obscuring of history where blacks have been historically subjugated and met with a lot of barriers to advancing. Now that they’re given some advantages to rectify this historical disadvantage of hundreds of years, now this is perceived as discrimination.

Michael: It’s not fair.

Antoine: Yeah, it’s not fair, to them, that, you know, it’s in some ways passing the law was enough. Just creating equality was enough, to some, who would think that that was all that was needed, where others were saying, well no, if we’re really going to do this, things are, we’re going to have to give them a head start or a leg up, you know, sorry not a head start, but a leg up. And I think that this is, a lot of people who have tried to demonize these type of efforts, that’s, you know, has been very anger inducing.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I mentioned the Trump quote because I remember it. I was living in New York and I was working and somebody I knew who was a very, very good person heard it and thought, yeah, that feels right to him and I was like, whoa, you know, and I remember that emotion and it felt right to him that–

Betty: Well, I think it speaks to the present tense feeling of these types of things, and Donald Trump is a very present tense kind of person, like right now, if I were a well-educated black man, but it’s really obscuring and misrecognizing–

Michael: The black man has an advantage even over a well-educated white. There’s a sense of like I’m being persecuted and that carried all the way through to Obama, the way he talks about it now.

Betty: Right, and Antoine, you mentioned in one of your lectures that I watched that Trump is one of the angriest presidents ever, if not, you know, the angriest president. He infuses a lot of anger into the system. And so how do you think that impacts us as a society across the board, whites, blacks, minorities?

Antoine: Oh well, you know, there’s been some data to show that, you know, 2016 in terms of respondents, survey respondents reporting levels of anger, that it was the highest in 2016 than any other previous presidential election year. And this was not just among Republicans, but Democrats as well. So Trump’s rhetoric not only made Republicans pretty angry at Democrats, but it definitely fueled Democrats’ anger at Republicans. So both sides were fairly angry, more so than any previous year. And I think the consequences we’ve kind of seen that happen where it’s led to a lot of incivility rhetoric, racialized rhetoric, it’s led to a lack of compromise, it’s led to more polarization, the parties are seen as further apart than they have been in the past. So in terms of trying to get legislation done that might help Americans where people, where compromise is essential for that, we’ve had a much more difficult time doing that. Government has been shut down fighting about whether we’re going to pass or have a budget. You know, these days we’re venturing into new territory.

Michael: Right, so there was that whole thing with Keegan-Michael Peele playing Obama’s alter ego, Luther, I think the name was, right, at the Press Association dinner or whatever it is. And it was hysterical, but really telling because Barack Obama was, either intuitively or what we put on him or some combination of the two, not allowed to express anger because he’s black. Because a black man who expresses anger–

Betty: Yeah, I mean, I think Obama was quoted in his memoir as saying when he approaches other people, knowingly implying white people, he has to speak slowly and make slow movements because–

Antoine: To appear not threatening.

Betty: To appear not threatening.

Michael: A black man who is angry is a threat.

Betty: A black man moving quickly is a threat.

Michael: A black man is a threat. Let’s be honest, right. And I wonder how much that then became a problem in the electorate which, never seeing him angry or emotion sort of, you know–

Antoine: Well, you know, Obama was in a very unique position when he ran for office because, one, there was a, we had one of the greatest recessions, you know, ever since the Great Depression. So in terms of people’s economic factors, they usually tend to play an important role in whether people decide to vote for the incumbent party or not. So he had that going for him. People had a very negative view about, you know, our position in terms of the Iraq war and terrorism, particularly when it came to Bush. And so, I mean, there’s been a lot of forecast models showing that mostly any Democrat would have won that election given the circumstances. So Obama was–

Michael: Bush screwed up so badly that white America was even willing to let a black man–

Betty: Well, they were looking for change. There was a change politician.

Antoine: So Obama was able to, in some ways, have the right economic and foreign policy factors that gave, you know, allowed him to win. And he was very inspiring and hopeful that motivated a lot of racial and ethnic minorities to come out and turn out for him in unprecedented numbers. And his opponent, McCain, wasn’t really of the kind of ilk to use anger as a tool or weapon to motivate his base. So Obama was unique in that regard. It’d be really interesting in 2020 how Democrats are going to think about using emotions or whether they even do to try to win the election. I think Trump is going to continue this anger appeal and message. And it’s going to be interesting to see how Democrats will counteract that. I think if it’s a minority candidate, particularly woman or Latino, African-American, I think they do have to be somewhat careful about the potential backlash they might get. I think Hillary was really careful in not conveying a lot of anger, even though she was very frustrated because she was concerned about the potential backlash she might experience from that–

Michael: Shrill, that sort of sexist–

Betty: Women are not allowed to be angry either–

Michael: Because then you’re shrill or you’re bossy, all those sexist connotations. You know, one of the things, Antoine, that you’d said to me before was that your advice to Democrats in 2020 was to not talk about race and I’m curious why you think that.

Antoine: I mean, I think talking about race on, and I mean, I should be careful about that. It’s not to say that in the primaries, talking about race, they shouldn’t do that. But I think as they move to the general election, we are, you know, based on several indicators, you know, particularly if you look at whites, they tend to hold really racially conservative views. So them talking about race and having a more liberal position, I don’t, you know, that might be detrimental to them. So, in that regard, I would say, you know, making race a particularly salient issue, I’m trying to think of a past previous election where race was an important, salient issue where the Democrats have won. I think you might have to go back to the 60s.

Betty: Where it was a part of the platform officially, John Kennedy.

Michael: It’s an interesting thing that Democrats purposefully walked away from the South over it over the next generation. I think it is interesting that we are not, certainly, I think you’re right that many whites after the Civil Rights Act of 64, the Voting Rights Act of 65, thought we had solved, quote unquote, solved the problem of race. Then the next generation thought that Barack Obama’s election to the presidency meant that we were, quote unquote, in a post-racial America. We are never, we are never beyond race.

Betty: No.

Michael: And never beyond the problems of it. And what we don’t have are the tools to talk about it or to cope.

Betty: And, you know, and even in the primaries or the 2020 general election, if we do, if the Democrats do put up a candidate who has minority, female gender, or all three, or sexuality status, how is that avoidable? I don’t know that it’s possible. In another piece that you mentioned about Obama, he’s very emotionally, I mean, he’s a wonderful speaker. And he recruited a lot of emotions in his campaign speeches and in his speeches ongoing, but he rose on hope. That was his slogan, Hope. And I know, Antoine, you’ve done research on the power of hope versus the power of anger. So can you tell us a little bit about that? And does hope have as much strength as anger?

Antoine: So, you know, I’ve looked at hope more from a sense of looking at African-Americans and seeing whether hope, particularly about the Democratic Party, particularly about race, does that cause blacks to be more engaged or supportive of the Democratic Party? This is a project done with one of my colleagues, Ismail White, at Duke and Brian McKenzie. And we don’t find any evidence that hope causes blacks to be more supportive of the Democratic Party. And what we mean by supportive is more likely to act on behalf of the Democratic Party. And we think this might be just because when it came, at the time of the study, when it came to race, that they were feeling very pessimistic. The Tea Party rhetoric was at a all time high, a lot of opposition towards Obama was racialized, you had the birther movement. And I think, you know, the optimism that blacks felt in 2008 really started to dissipate over time. So I think, and in terms of that hopeful message, it didn’t seem to be effective. Now, the question is whether Cory Booker or Kamala Harris or other candidates can inspire that hope. I think it’s to be seen and I think–

Betty: And so hope, go ahead.

Antoine: No, go ahead.

Betty: So hope is not necessarily, by your studies, as big of a motivator, but there is some factors that influence what you guys looked at. It’s not as big of a motivator as anger, which I mean, in some sense almost makes sense.

Antoine: Most of my studies have looked at anger and how it has particularly negative effects when it comes to race. In terms of hope, I haven’t really looked at that in terms of people’s racial attitudes. I have looked at that in terms of participation and we haven’t found as strong of effects for hope as opposed to anger, at least in the case of blacks. I have to go back and look at other studies I’ve done where we’ve looked at positive emotions. But I think we’ve combined hope with enthusiasm and pride and in those studies it’s harder for me to, kind of, separate. But when you feel hopeful, you have a sense that, you know, the goals that you’re trying to reach in the future is achievable. And I think that’s what Obama did, that the goals in terms of race and prosperity is very achievable and influencing people to believe that they can reach those goals. People were motivated to come out and support him. Now, the question is whether another candidate can do that is to be seen. I mean, I think in terms of my advice for a politician or presidential candidate would be for them to be successful is that you want your base to feel angry and hopeful and the opponents base to feel anxious about their candidate. When those factors occur, I think you have a greatest success of winning in an election.

Betty: You know, in terms of that, Antoine, as we are, you know, heating up into the 2020 elections, you know, anger is a weapon on both sides. It’s a poison pill. Or it’s a motivating pill, however you want to choose to look at it. Where, how are you looking at the whole thing? Where are you going to be watching? What would you point us to see? How would you decode this?

Antoine: So, I mean, a lot of the work I’m looking at now, particularly with the 2020 election, is looking to see whether, like I mentioned earlier, whether some politicians or groups are more privileged to being angry than others and how does that in some ways maintain the inequalities we have between groups like blacks and whites or Latinos and whites or even men and women. So that’s kind of where I may be looking at is to see whether some groups are more privileged and some groups are emotionally disadvantaged. Because I think one problem–

Michael: Who’s allowed to be–

Betty: Yeah. What do you mean by privileged?

Michael: Who’s allowed to be angry? Is that what you’re saying?

Antoine: Yes. Who’s allowed to be angry? So is Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Howard Dean, Ronald Reagan. Are they allowed to be angry? Is it okay? Do we not penalize them for being angry? Where if someone like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama–

Michael: Kamala Harris.

Antoine: Kamala Harris.

Betty: Cory Booker.

Antoine: Cory Booker, yes. If they’re unable to express anger, that’s an important question to know because anger has its benefits too. It’s a way to motivate your base, it’s a way to, in some ways, seem more passionate about issues, it’s a way, to seem, there’s research to show that people who are angry seem more competent. They’re seen as stronger leaders. So if certain groups are privileged to be angry more than others and anger becomes more and more part of the rhetoric or just national discourse on politics–

Michael: Then you’re disqualifying people from being good leaders and you’re disqualifying them from really effectively being effective candidates.

Antoine: Yes, yes. And I think Hillary, in some ways, suffered from that where, you know, she had to be very poised and calm, couldn’t react with anger. And I think it had a negative impact on people’s belief that she was a good leader, even though she had a lot of knowledge about policy.

Betty: Yeah. I mean, we do want to remember she won the popular vote. That was–

Michael: Small things.

Betty: I mean, which doesn’t invalidate the fact that she was not a charismatic candidate.

Michael: It doesn’t invalidate the fact that Trump did win the election. Let’s be honest, you know. But I think that’s really, Antoine, that is really fascinating because it sounds to me like what we’re talking about is using emotion, sort of, effectively denying people human emotion as a way of disqualifying them. That’s fascinating.

Betty: Well, I mean, is there a way to thread the needle? Can a Kamala Harris or a Cory Booker be angry?

Michael: That’s what he’s going to find out.

Betty: You know–

Michael: Stay tuned. He’ll come back.

Betty: Positively, while angry and hopeful, as you put it, maybe that’s the equation.

Antoine: I think that’s, you know, we do have to, the electorate is changing. The U.S. is becoming more diverse. So as people of color enter in the electorate more, that dynamic might change, that they would want to see their candidate angry. They would want to see someone like them passionate and emotional and talking about particularly problems that their community is facing. And so it might not always be a detrimental or problematic strategy for women or people of color. But I think time will tell. It’ll be very interesting to see what strategy Cory Booker or Kamala Harris takes.

Michael: Yeah, for sure. Well listen, it was fascinating.

Betty: Thank you so much.

Michael: Really, really grateful.

Betty: I mean, this piece of emotion and how it drives politics I think is essential to focus on. And that’s what you’ve pointed out in your book and in conversation and in all your studies. So, I mean, I think it’s key.

Antoine: I want to thank you for inviting me to be on your show. I’ve really had a great time in sharing my work. And, you know, I’ve listened to your other podcasts. So, no, thank you again.

Michael: Well, we’ve reached the end of yet another session and as my analyst likes to say to me, take your problems home with you. Mind of State is a production of Mind of State Media LLC and Hangar Studios NYC. Our crackerjack producer is Caroline Kwash. Our engineer is Rick Serbini. Mind of State’s original music is composed by Joel Goodman, courtesy of Oovra Music. I’m Michael Epstein.

Betty: And I’m Betty Teng. You can connect with us on Twitter at Mind of State Media, on our Facebook page, and on our website, Mind of State.com. You can also subscribe to our show at Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)