Friday, February 29, 2008

Choosing hope over fear

I've been thinking a lot about the politics of fear versus the politics of hope lately.

Conservatives have kept the Amerian public on a short leash for years by controlling us with fear. Do it our way....or you and your children will get blown up (by the Russians, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda....).

I have noticed that Hillary Clinton is adopting the fear angle in her campaign as she sarcastically decries Obama's message of hope. It's not working well for her. On Tuesday, Jon Stewart made fun of Clinton's pessimism: join me in the chant now, "NO, WE CAN'T." It is a strange platform for a Democrat to run on.

Today Clinton has a new alarming ad out that I would have sworn was a John McCain ad until the final reveal:



This message perfectly illustrates what cognitive scientist George Lakoff said the other day about Clinton: she is actually using the conservative framework. She tries to win over "swing voters" by moving to the right or using the fear approach. Obama appeals to that group of people by identifying common ground that they share with progresssives and inviting them to work together on those issues.

The Democrat-in-Conservative-clothing approach is no longer working for me, and I don't think it can be effective in November. The people who want a Hawk candidate will already be voting for John McCain. On a practical and philosophical level I am yearing to see our country give Hope a chance.

I do not for a minute think that a hopeful stance will be an easy way out of our difficulties. On the contrary, it will demand a lot more participation and individual change (ie conserving oil) than the Bush approach. But after the last seven years we've been subjected to, aren't we as citizens willing to grow up and take responsibility for our government, rather than remaining scared and obedient little sheep?

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