Herschel Walker Doesn’t Sound Like A Politician; Maybe That’s Why He’s Winning In Georgia

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/11/02/herschel-walker-doesnt-sound-like-a-politician-maybe-thats-why-hes-winning-in-georgia/

“If you want to know why I’m running, look around.” Herschel Walker’s straight-talking opposition to the Biden-Warnock economic agenda is succinct and effective.

There’s much that can be said about the Biden administration’s deluge of bad economic policies, but Herschel managed to capture all that in one plain sentence. In fact, his entire style of communication is plain.

In politics, plain is different. Yet plain is effective. Especially when hearers are used to the sound bites, the gotcha lines, and the carefully crafted talking points regurgitated endlessly by the endless round of political candidates on TV and radio every election season. 

All too often politicians change the way they communicate to project the formality they think they need to obtain public office. As soon as a politician is in front of a camera or behind a microphone, the pol seems to pull out prepared remarks and code-switch. 

Code-switching, or sociolinguistics, is the use of a dialect, accent, or language variety depending on the social-cultural context to project a specific identity. Usually, it’s a member of a minority group adjusting the way the person speaks, the person’s behavior, or the person’s appearance to match the dominant culture.

Whatever you think of politicians switching to a different code in public from they use in private, Herschel Walker has made his stand clear: he doesn’t have time for any of it. 

The Hall of Fame former professional football player and Georgia sports hero has taken his rough-around-the-edges ground-and-pound style into politics with him.

His speaking style is unpolished — if you are looking for oratory. Just like his football plays were unpolished – if you were looking for a ballet performance. For thousands of Georgia voters, this isn’t unpolished, this isn’t a substitute — this is what telling the plain truth sounds like. 

In Walker’s recent televised debate against current U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, voters had a chance to take in how a plain communicator stacks up against a well-refined orator on the debate stage.

Senator Warnock began and carried on the first parts of the debate like a typical politician. Even if you didn’t watch it, you know what it was like:  the flowery words, the run-on sentences, the flashy promises, the appeal for votes.

Then Herschel Walker started to speak, and he brought something new. He seemed to blurt out half-sentences and retorts that, while unformed grammatically, nevertheless formed complete rebuttals and statements of policy. It was a rope-a-dope responsive style that didn’t allow Senator Warnock to land any heavy blows, yet still effectively conveyed everything Herschel Walker wanted to communicate.  Every voter could hear where he stood on the issues and what he was willing to do about it.

He didn’t have to impress his audience by how eloquently he communicated his ideas. His ideas could stand up for themselves. He conveyed the substance of his ideas, and did it with a sincerity that was familiar and welcoming. A sincerity to follow through.

Of course, Georgian voters have had many opportunities to consider Herschel Walker’s communication style. But, if he’s elected, how will his style influence his colleagues in the United States Senate?

I’ve worked for over a decade on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the country. I’ve logged hundreds and hundreds of hours hearing from and speaking to cabinet officials, U.S. senators, U.S. representatives, and their staff.  My entire workday is spent exchanging ideas. While showcasing your vocabulary with carefully crafted, prepared statements can give a certain credibility, most often it is the half-sentences and reciprocal conversations that are the most engaging and profitable.

Like tossing a ball back-and-forth in a game of catch, the best conversations are in a verbal exchange. One person speaks about a topic or makes a comment, and the other person meets him right where he is.

That style works when communicators are on the same page, but also when they have disagreements. It is effective because it removes formality and political-speak from the equation and gets down to how people really communicate and process ideas.

It’s a style that works with teammates in the huddle. It works with colleagues on the job. It works with voters at a town hall. And it works in the backrooms of the U.S. Senate. It’s the language of people getting things done. While the Senate floor shows off its decorum and polished eloquence, 99 percent of the work making the country run is done by these comfortable, flexible, authentic ways of communicating. That is Herschel’s style. 

Herschel Walker’s style is effective because he talks to the people who turn on the TV to watch sports commentators far more often than they do to watch political debates. Hershel’s ability to express his point in a plain, reasonable way instead of the scripts and formulas of politics-as-usual is authentic, effective, and refreshing.

 

Jonathan Alexandre is an Attorney and Senior Counsel for Governmental Affairs in the Washington D.C. office of Liberty Counsel. Jonathan also serves as General Counsel for the Frederick Douglass Foundation. Jonathan has written for the New Boston Post since its inception in 2015. Jonathan previously worked for The Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs in Jerusalem, Israel, and the United States Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School. He is married to his wife Renee Alexandre. They live in Waldorf, Maryland.

 

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