I’ve spent much of the last seven years studying communications, and four years ago I was one of the many, many young folks swept up and into the Obama Campaign (granted I started working on the campaign and making treks up to New Hampshire starting that August). I was an intern, and basically staff member working with the New Media team more hours a week than I can remember, commuting to and from Manchester from Boston (or Brookline more specifically).
I spent the New Hampshire primary day canvassing around Manchester making sure people were voting, no matter who it was for, and waited that evening in a large gymnasium for an Obama speech (and fingers crossed, a WIN). As the hours drew on, we realized we hadn’t won, and the months I spent working on the campaign made me put my head in my hands and almost cry (I’m not kidding folks for those involved with campaigns you emotionally and physically become like both a new parent and the baby they’re caring for all at once..) Politics on the ground is hard work (my long lost colleagues from that work traveled state to state, and now find themselves comfortably situated in the White House, government departments, etc…and here I am continuing in the non-profit sector). I must hand it to those folks who have spent the time hitting the pavement in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But back to my story….In my flurry of disheartenment, out rang the words “Yes We Can” as Obama spoke to that auditorium. It wasn’t a “Well We Almost Did” or “No We Didn’t, but we will” and it certainly didn’t put emphasis on the “I”, but a simple “Yes We Can” – a line so short it was made for newspaper headlines, and the words suggesting not the typical themes within American political rhetoric of competition or individualism, but rather collectivity that included not just the candidate, but his network, and perhaps the rest of the country. So although Hillary and McCain made the front pages that day in photos, Obama’s “Yes We Can” made the front page as well, or most certainly was implemented into headlines on A1, rather than A10. It was direct and to the point, and the elections rolled on for the months ahead. Although the Republicans see a front runner in Romney, its not only what the candidates do from here on out, but what they say from here on out and like all other political communications, how one simple phrase or sentence can change everything.
Can anyone remember Hilliary’s speech? I know I was a bit biased in this, but I certainly can’t.