On Monday, the Obama-Biden 2012 campaign team released a new video that contained the President and Vice President's much speculated about and anticipated campaign slogan. Slogans can be a powerful thing, crystallizing a whole campaign and encapsulating a host of emotions in just a few words.
Think about the President's 2008 campaign. What comes to mind?
"Yes We Can"
If you were an Obama supporter in 2008, those three words probably still cause your heart to flutter a little bit. They anchored the story that got Obama elected and inspired literally millions of people across the world.
The newest video released by the President's re-election campaign also tells a story. But it is a story that continues to be short some key elements, as I noted by quoting Drew Westen in my recent piece on hope and politics.
The video starts off with an account of the months and years leading up to Obama's election where America slid into the most substantial economic meltdown since The Great Depression. This is a story with which we're all familiar, but it's good to set the prologue up and get everyone on the same page.
The video then turns into a laundry list of the things that Obama has done while in office. That list is relatively substantial, if not somewhat repetitive. And then we get to the crux of the matter: we still have work to do. And the message here is that voting for Obama-Biden is voting to move America forward.
Great. But forward to where?
More recovery. More jobs. A better America. Okay, but a recovering America with more jobs and better lives for its citizens could look a lot of different ways. In what way does Obama see it?
The video never really tells us.
And, you know, maybe "better" is enough for this election. If you asked a random sampling of Americans whether they would like, "The next four years to be better than the last four years were?" I think we all know what the resounding answer would be.
But here's the thing, for all its faults and foibles one of the things I most admire about America is its capacity to think big. In 2008, when the scale of challenge that the country faced was truly being realized, the electorate demonstrated that it was still willing to think big. Even in the face of what was becoming a terrifying reality for a great many Americans, voters embraced an idea that if they were courageous and willing to put themselves on the line, those challenges could be met, overcome, and the country would be better off for its efforts.
That was the 2008 Obama campaign. It was the change about which Obama spoke and with which he inspired so many people. And while it didn't work out as some might have imagined, one gets the sense that people would be willing to give it another go if the chance presented itself.
But we really haven't heard much about that change since Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009. And this video doesn't seem to provide much in the way of an update either.
Forward, says Obama. But to where? Another round of politics as usual, it would seem.
The question that lurks in my mind: is Obama still figuring out what the change on which he campaigned looks like or did he never intend to figure it out in the first place?