As the incredible images from Obama’s Germany speech blanket the US press – of hundreds of thousands of Germans waving American flags – I think back to the “early” days of the primary. Several times when Obama gave speeches, he would attract such large crowds that not everyone would be able to fit inside the venue. In those cases, he seemed to make a point of talking to them afterwards. Whether it was saying a few words from the steps of the building, or shaking hands for an extra 20 minutes, we saw images and stories in the media of overflow people that Obama took the time to engage.
Now that he has the nomination wrapped up, I haven’t seen those images anymore. Did they only work when he was an underdog? Are the venues he now speaks at too large for him to overflow? Or did his schedule get too full to spare the extra 20 minutes?
Whatever the reason, I think his campaign should bring back those moments. In the heat of the (never-ending) race, he seems to be losing the incredible energy that came from the millions of regular folk who support him.
Perhaps this image has to end – he has to show he’s establishment (or at the least, established) now in order to win over the tens of millions of voters who did not participate in the democratic primary. But still, that impressive image of popularity, and the effort he gave back to them in return, was so powerful to me.
The other thing that was powerful, that I think he’s lost, is his platform of change. Obama stood for change in the Democratic primary. He still stands for change, but it’s less clear-cut now. McCain’s rhetoric about change and his insistence on his policies being different from Bush’s have muddied the waters.
In order to recapture the energy and excitement of the early primaries, Obama needs to rally everyone around an idea. Change is great, but what is the change? Pick one thing and have it be your major election platform.
This week both candidates are trying to present their economic policy this week. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I think it’s very important, and I can’t wait to see what they have to say. But this isn’t exciting. It’s wonky! And I don’t really have the tools to understand it. I doubt most of the country does.
As I finished reading The First Campaign today, one of the issues Graff mentions really stood out to me: universal health care. He cites some interesting statistics:
- Iin 1994 56% of Americans believed that “the federal government should guarentee health insurance for all Americans.
- In 2008, 64% of Americans believe the same thing.
- In 1990, healthcare was an $800 billion problem.
- Today, it’s a $2 trillion-a year problem.
In the campaigns, let’s not get caught up in the small details. Someone please just say, “It’s unacceptable that not all Americans can afford healthcare. As President, I promise to make sure every American has access to quality care without bankrupting themselves.”
I know, I know. I wouldn’t be happy with a plain statement like that either. But just say it and fill in the background info later. Or say it and promise to work with Congress – Democrat or Republican controlled – to get this legislation passed within your first two years in office.
I want the candidates to stand up and BE for something. I’m tired of the hedges and the qualifications and the meaninglessness of many of their statements. I’m especially tired of the slightest slip of their surrogates being national news. November can’t get here fast enough for me.