OP-ED EDITORS TO TOUCH, BUT NOT MINE. hERE’S A PIECE i WROTE ABOUT the Presidential candidates’ brains for the local paper

Choosing which human brain to install in the Oval Office for the next four years is a daunting and demanding task. Some would even say it is scary.

For sure, it is a serious enough task that we should take a look at what we know about how our brains consistently deal with this messy, unpredictable soap opera we call life.

I have a personality testing tool that I developed years ago to help individuals and organizations do just that. What I’ve done below is use my BrainMap® assessment model to take a look at seven of the presidential candidates who have received substantial media attention. Here are some of their thinking characteristics that interest me:

The most advanced thinking capabilities. The winner is Bernie Sanders. It’s because he depends so heavily on his prefrontal lobs, both right and left. He speaks frequently of the interconnectedness of things, and that’s why. Many younger voters (under 40) sense that he’s the candidate most likely to be attracted to the new, the novel and the complex (even if he’s 74). This jives with their hunch that the world ahead is going to be vastly different from the world we’re leaving behind. Can Sanders win it all? Probably not. But he may be a bellwether for the kind of minds that will seek the presidency in the 2020s. We can expect to see more brains like his in the next few presidential election campaigns.

The nicest brains in the crowd. Those belonging to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Both gents prefer operating from their right-brain hemisphere. This renders them loyal to traditions, values and groups from their past (Floridians from the right side of the tracks for Bush; Floridians from the other side of the Straits for Rubio). Both think you should trust their brains because they’re basically good guys, even when they have mean things to say. Why isn’t either of them doing better with the voters? Rubio may be beginning to make strides in the toughness area. But because of how their brains work, it is always going to be stretch for them to find their “ugly groove” and say there.

A lamb’s brain waiting to be sacrificed. Dr. Carson’s. This talented brain surgeon depends heavily on his upper left-brain hemisphere. We can be thankful for that. This is where we want our brain surgeons, airline pilots, actuarial experts and the like to spend most of their thinking moments. But when you are running for the presidency, there is a price to be paid for too much specialized thinking. Eventually your supply of theories and techniques runs dry on the political hustings, then you have to strike out on your own. What does a brain surgeon do when he shouts “Code Blue” and nobody comes? As we’ve seen with the good doctor, plummet in the polls.

The two most interesting and most dangerous brains. Ted Cruz gets slotted here because he knows exactly what he wants (“forever and ever, amen!”) and Donald Trump because he wants exactly what he knows (until he comes across something else). Both these candidates are in thrall to the bottom quadrants of their brains. Cruz favors the right side, Trump, the left side. No matter. With these brain areas calling the shots, it assures both men of copious supplies of psychological energy. Cruz devotes his brain electricity to delivering his “truths,” whatever the cost; Trump devotes his to searching for truths he can sell to someone, hopefully on the margin. Putting either one of these guys in the Oval Office is going to mean that this campaign never ends.

The brain you don’t want to go at head-on. Ms. Clinton’s. This isn’t the Hillary Clinton of yore (’92, ’96, ‘00, ‘04, ‘08), only more so. Hillary’s brain is a role model for what can be done when you effectively marry the front and back areas of the left brain hemisphere. You get someone capable of learning quickly, then exhibiting a Cobra’s patience for explaining something like Benghazi or the emails for the umpteenth time. The upside: this is a brain unlikely to go off the rails. The down side: you get someone who has wanted to be in charge for so long she’s incapable of envisioning a world where she wouldn’t be.

So which of these brains can we expect your brain to favor when it comes time to vote for our next President?

We thinking skills researchers know it will most likely be the one whose brain seems to behave closest to the way you think your brain behaves.

The run-up to the U.S. presidential election is one of the soap opera’s great “look in the mirror” moments, and that’s the rub. If things don’t work out, we have no one but ourselves to blame.

If you’d like to read this commentary in The Gainesville Sun, go here. If you have comments, please forward comments to me at and I’ll post them.

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