I think, but am not certain, that David Brooks’ assessment of voters’ attitudes and concerns today is accurate. And when Brooks describes what a modern candidate must do:
If one were to advise a candidate about the happiness gap, you’d say: first, don’t try to be inspiring or rely on the pure power of authenticity. In these cynical days, voters are not interested in uplift.
Second, don’t propose any program that will interfere with the way voters are currently organizing their lives. They don’t want you there.
Third, don’t expect people to cast votes according to their income. Democrats do as well among top earners as Republicans. People are more interested in repairing the nation’s health than in boosting their personal bottom line.
Fourth, offer voters a few big proposals (and strategies to implement them) that respond to global threats. Repeat those proposals at every event and forget about everything else.
I think, but am not certain, that the candidates who are currently following that advice are Giuliani and Romney.