Mike Kueber's Blog

February 15, 2012

Modulate and resonate

Filed under: People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:37 pm
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The FreeDictionary.com defines “modulate” as follows:

  • To adjust or adapt to a certain proportion; regulate or temper.
  • To change or vary the pitch, intensity, or tone of (one’s voice or a musical instrument, for example).

It defines “resonate” as follows:

  • To evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief: “It is a demonology [that] seems to resonate among secular and religious voters alike.”
  • To correspond closely or harmoniously.

Those words came to my mind as I watched Rick Santorum on the Sunday morning talk shows this past week. The common usage of both words seems to be of relatively recent vintage, especially in the context of politics.  My first recollection of “modulate” was when it was applied to Geraldine Ferraro after she was identified as Walter Mondale’s VP running mate.  Apparently, the establishment thought she we too feminist and New Yorkish for Middle America, and to succeed she would need to “modulate” her “pitch, intensity, and tone.”

The same suggestion is being applied to Rick Santorum.  His strident Catholicism, the argument goes, is going to scare off the undecided voters.  In fact, I recently blogged about Santorum’s leanings toward turning America into a theocracy.  News article in the past week, however, have indicated that Santorum is shifting the focus of his campaign from social issues to economic issues (jobs).  How’s that for modulating your message?

I’m not sure when “resonate” became such a trendy descriptor for use by pundits, but despite its pervasiveness, I can’t think of another term that is nearly as useful.  In the context of the Republican presidential race, most of the pundits have noted that conservatives and Mitt Romney have not connected – e.g., Romney’s message doesn’t resonate with them.  And even though I am a Romney supporter and have grave doubts about Santorum’s social positions, I could see on last Sunday’s talk shows why Santorum and his message resonate with voters.  Plainly stated, he has more personality that Romney. 

There’s an old adage in politics about voting for the guy (or gal) you would like to share a beer with.  Well, that man is Rick Santorum (and Barack Obama).  If Santorum modulates his message, as he did in Pennsylvania while winning several uphill elections, this guy could pull an upset, at least over Romney.  But Intrade.com still has Romney at 74% and Santorum at 16%.


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