Sick of Those Blank Stares After Explaining a Political Issue? Use Analogies to Help Them Get It

Rubio Trump Carson blank stares

Economics makes a heck of a lot more sense with real-life examples.

Am I right?

I’m not gonna lie, economics can be pretty complicated.

So can politics.

Using analogies helps bridge that gap between theory and reality.

How does supply and demand work? Instead of using a graph to describe it, use the example of an iPhone. An iPhone is familiar.

College prices are also familiar.

Your friends in college will get supply and demand in the context of college.

Supply curves? Nay, they won’t get it (and I don’t blame them).

Not to get nerdy here, but…analogies are the Infinity Stones of the political world. Remember that blue gem thingy in The Avengers? Yeah, that thing. I’m comparing analogies to a fictional power crystal in the Marvel Universe.

Analogies are pretty powerful in politics. And there’s several different types of analogies that you can use.

The 6 Different Types of Analogies

Analogies are a collection. Think of it like a broad label. Under that label are several different forms of analogies that you’ll recognize.

These sub-analogies are exemplification, comparisons, metaphors, similes, allegories, and parables.

Each form of analogy has its own usefulness. It all depends on the situation and how best to communicate the idea.

Let me describe the main 6. Then we’ll move on how to use them.

Exemplification: to show or illustrate with examples. Connecting a sample with what it refers to (e.g. “Roe VS Wade is a lawsuit.” Simple, but basically what exemplification is. “Lawsuit” is the label, “Roe VS Wade” is the sample).

Comparison: the likening of one thing to another through similarities. (e.g. “taxes are theft”…I hangout with too many anarcho-capitalists).

Parable: a short simple story that communicates a truth or teaching (e.g. The Prodigal Son is a good example of a parable). Don’t confuse parables with fables; parables only include human characters, unlike fables that can have human, animal, and inanimate objects as characters (think Animal Farm).

Metaphor: identifying one thing with another unrelated thing for rhetorical effect (e.g. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…” Shakespeare, As You Like It). A metaphor directly relates two things, without using connecting words (like, as, etc).

Allegory: an extended metaphor, meant to connect hidden meanings with symbolism to create a moral, political, or spiritual meaning to its audience (e.g. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. A Great example of how pervasive ignorance & arrogance is in politics. You should check it out).

Simile: directly compares two things by using connecting words (e.g. “Donald Trump is like a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing).

The 6 Different Types of Analogies The Political Informer

How to Craft an Analogy

In John Pollack’s book, Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas he describes the 5 necessary aspects of an effective analogy. These five are…

  1. Use the highly familiar to explain something less familiar.
  2. Highlight similarities and obscure differences.
  3. Identify useful abstractions.
  4. Tell a coherent story.
  5. Resonate emotionally.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how useful (and dangerous) emotion can be. Without emotion, the analogy becomes stale.

Each point builds on the next. Familiarity and similarity are needed to make the story glide effortlessly through the reader’s mind. Emotion lubricates the analogy, pulling in the reader (hopefully making them sympathetic). All of it going in to create concepts that help communicate the main point.


How to Utilize Analogies Effectively

It goes without saying, analogies are used to describe, compare, and communicate.

Some are better than others. It all depends on the subject, medium, and audience.

Take parables for example.

If you’re writing, you can throw in a parable. Their length fits the writing medium, not so much while talking (Jesus did it, but I ain’t Jesus, so I’ll leave it for writing).

Allegory’s can also be longer.

Similes and metaphors are good for creating imagery between two objects.

Like what I did with Trump? That’s the power of a simile. Metaphors are more powerful (usually more “meta” too).

Comparisons and exemplifications are commonly used. I’d find it hard to not know how to use them.

You’ll use comparisons, exemplifications, and similes the most. Followed next by metaphors. Allegories and parables are less likely to be used only because they’re more intensive (to create) and longer.

In the end, make sure each analogy communicates your message or idea properly. Make sure it brings up familiar connections in your audience’s head.

Analogies are worthless if they’re not familiar to others.

Remember the connection between increased college tuition and supply and demand?

Analogies The Political Informer


Analogies can simplify a seemingly complex political idea. They can bring familiarity to issues that would otherwise cause blank stares.

Economics is a great example of how effective analogies can be. It’s why the right analogy can prove so effective.

You want to communicate your political views properly, right? You want to be effective in influencing those around you?

Well, analogies are a part of that.

Rattling off a political idea like an academic lecturing students isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to bring it home. You’ve gotta hit home base.

Hitting home base entails relating political ideas in ways that’ll cause those around you to have an “I get it” moment.

Your views serve no purpose if they’re kept at an intellectually untouchable level.

We all know that one intellectual airhead. The guy rattles off big time names like Aristotle, Locke, and Machiavelli.

But his communication skills suck. He sounds like an academic.

Can he simplify what he’s saying? I doubt it.

Simplification is the best form of communication. If you can’t simplify your views, you don’t understand them well enough (or haven’t taken the time to dissect them).

Analogies break down complex ideas.

You’ve gotta use them to help your friends and family understand.

So have you ever used analogies to better communicate an issue? Do you think analogies prove effective in politics? Leave your opinions and thoughts in the comments below.

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About John-Pierre Maeli

Keeping it simple and crystal clear, because anything else is useless. I'm here to not only inform you, but to also connect with you. That's what The Political Informer is all about. Feel free to follow me on either Twitter or Google+ Let's talk!

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