Another bridge to the past
Shawn Otto published a perceptive piece in the Huffington Post yesterday, February 18th. It’s about how a campaign needs a forward-looking story to capture voters’ attention and support.
I have heard Professor David Schultz make the same point in several presentations, including one he made at Drinking Liberally a few years ago. Elections are, after all, about the future. They’re not a referendum on who did the best job in the past.
Campaigns that are not about the future are like the coffee mug slogan: “The older I get, the better I used to be.” And the laurel-resting candidates are often tempted to make their past a little better as the campaign goes along.
Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton was running for reelection against Bob Dole; it was the first boomer president running against a certified WWII hero. It was in one of the debates, I think, that Bob Dole said, “Let me be your bridge to the past.” (Given his penchant for referring to himself in the third person, he might have said, “Let Bob Dole be your bridge to the past.” I can’t remember.)
Anyway, I knew at that moment that Bob Dole was lost. The very next day, I believe, the Clinton campaign rolled out the slogan A bridge to the 21st century.
Which is why the static and flat Hillary Clinton campaign is so inexplicable, and so is its slogan:
Hillary for America
Parenthetically, the other candidate running on the family entitlement ticket has one that is even worse:
Both of these slogan are flaccid, seem self-absorbed, and they obviously refer to the past. Hillary, at least, is doing better than Jeb Bush.
You can’t just run on who you are or what you did. George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole had a better resume that Bill Clinton. Hillary will say that hers is better than Bernie’s, but it really doesn’t matter as much as the current Clinton campaign thinks.
Here’s Bernie’s campaign slogan, by the way:
A Future to Believe In
Gee, that’s even — dare I say it? — inspiring. Sanders’ campaign is about what he proposes to do; the Clinton campaign is about who she is.
Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.