Empowerment & US politics

I’m probably not the first to catch this, but here’s why I think Obama’s whole “you were the change” idea is brilliant. It’s because it empowers us, rhetorically, at least. Romney’s whole message seems to be, just wait for me to get into office and I’ll fix everything. Don’t worry about how I’ll do it. Just trust me – the GOP is the party of business, so let us handle it. This message is ironic, since it plays on the very idea that the GOP professes to hate: that people should just wait for the government (a GOP government) to step in and fix all their problems.

Obama’s message turned this on its head. His theme was that it’s not a matter of waiting until a better government comes to make the recovery happen. It’s that the hard work that everyone has been doing, and will continue to do, is making the recovery happen. While it’s in Obama’s interest to acknowledge that government can’t do everything, it’s also true and Americans, I suspect, do know this. But why does this “you were the change” message resonate? Because it acknowledges everyone’s contribution. It gives everyone the sense that what they do is part of something larger, and is leading somewhere.

Many say how amazing it is that Obama is doing so well with such a bad economy. But has anyone asked, how was everything doing when Franklin Roosevelt won his second term? I doubt the economy had bounced back yet. This might be the more apt parallel than Carter or Bush I (as the GOP might prefer), since both inherited not just any bad economic situation, but one that most people recognize is exceptionally bad and will take a long time to recover from. One that deserves the epithet “Great.”

Despite the bad times, Obama gives people a sense of purpose, & a sense that their small contribution matters. He’ll win because of it.


About developingnathan
I am a reflective person. I am an introvert, a friend, a brother and a son. I appreciate a well-crafted glass of beer, piece of music and turn of phrase. I am a professional of international development, a good pianist and a Green Bay Packers fan.

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