This is a guest post

It has become painfully obvious that the Republicans have stolen a march on everyone else in regards to getting their message across. And they are successful despite the patent dishonesty of that message. The question is, how can such a pack of lies be so enthusiastically embraced by those whose personal interests are clearly damaged by the Republican program?

A goodly part of the answer can be found in three books, all by Richard Bandler and John Grinder: “Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, M.D, Vol 1;” and “The Structure of Magic,” volumes 1 and 2. All are available through Amazon and presumably Barnes & Noble or Powells as well. For anyone involved in the political scene today, they are must-reads.

Dr. Milton Erickson was the most prominent hypnotist of his age (d. 1980 at age 79), and the innovative master of both the indirect hypnotic induction and the indirect suggestion. This made him famous, since by using these techniques he was able to bypass resistance in his patients and quickly gain surprising results (sound familiar?). He could both hypntotize and implant post-hypnotic suggestions in the minds of people without them knowing it, and they would faithfully carry out his commands without ever realizing that the idea came from outside of themselves.

The names of the authors Bandler and Grinder should be familiar to many readers; shortly after writing these books they went on to found “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” (NLP) which was primarily tailored for the use of salesmen and was offered through seminars worldwide; in fact, if a salesman ever talked you into buying some expensive item you didn’t realize you wanted, it’s likely that he or she was a graduate of the NLP program. What Bandler and Grinder did in “Patterns” was to analyze in “down to the fingernails” detail the use by Erickson of both body and verbal language, pacing, emphasis, etc, in Erickson’s practice. The two volumes of “Structure of Magic” are developments on the work with Milton, generalizing it so it could be used by anyone in routine human interaction. This formed the basis of NLP. Today, NLP techniques are routinely and successfully used in advertising, sales, and in Republican politics.

One of the key points (and I’m sure you will recognize it in Republican activity) is “Rapport,” which is obtained by acting consciously in the manner in which your “target” acts unconsciously: mirroring speech patterns, body language, customs, etc. It’s a fact that only about 6% of the information transfer between normally conversing humans is done through the actual words being used. The other 94% comes through body language, inflection, and similar non-verbal channels. Example: the usually wealthy Republican candidate or operative has almost nothing in common with the lower-income “Angry White Male” or “Christian Conservative” yet he is effective in recruiting him because he has caused the target to believe that they are two of a kind, that they have much in common. The Republican operative has taken command of the non-verbal channels, so the factual contradictions and hypocrisy of the Republican program are buried in the totality of the message.

Bush’s pose as a “rancher” (a fine old American archetype) is another example of this- the reality of course being that he only bought the ranch just before his first presidential campaign, and had never shown any inclination in that direction before. But by acting the part, he signals non-verbally to a great many people that he is a “man of the earth” who “understands where we come from.” And the message is effective, despite its total dishonesty.

It is a confirmed fact that the Republicans are using these techniques, and using them with great success. The key GOP innovator was Newt Gingrich, and the “Contract with America” was stunningly well framed in NLP terms. Gingrich studied political speech and then wrote the famous memo “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” which may be found here: This went out to Republican candidates, activists, and wingnut talk show hosts.

It’s worth reading carefully, and its worth remembering while you read it that this is a classic application of NLP in the real world. It is also worth remembering that this was written in 1996, and that the Republican brain trust has had an additional nine years to refine the techniques and to put us where we are today- in a very deep hole.

We have a lot of catching up to do.