Why HOPE Rings True

By Alicia Long

It seems HOPE is the keyword this election.  In a year where the economy is in a downward spiral, America is looked down upon within the international community, people are losing not only their pensions and 401Ks but their homes, HOPE is the only thing that some have left.

Obama’s campaign slogan, “Change we can believe in” gets right to what Americans want.  This tagline encompasses the feelings of frustration people have with the current administration, yet encourages HOPE with the ability to BELIEVE.  Having lasted through eight years of fear-mongering and the dumbing-down of the American public, people are desperately looking for some light at the end of the tunnel.  They are looking for something to get excited about.  Obama didn’t have to portray himself as a rock star – people were LOOKING for a rock star.

McCain has had a little more trouble gaining traction in this election, and I think it has a lot to do with HOPE.  His first big campaign tagline was “A leader we can believe in.”  This instills HOPE in the same way that Obama’s tagline does, with HOPE being a necessary part in BELIEVING.  However, what we find ourselves hoping for with McCain is a “leader.”  I think the country saw a “leader” in Bush.  We voted for a strong-willed compassionate conservative who wasn’t afraid to make “tough decisions” – but look what we got. Yes, the country is looking for a strong leader in the 2008 election, but this is not what inspires us.

“Country First” was McCain’s next and current slogan.  The success of this tagline frames the belief that the current administration and/or Obama put their interests over the interests of the country.  In other words, country comes second or last.  McCain wants to put the country first.  This makes sense in every logical sense, because who would want a president that didn’t put the “country first?”  Again, however, he doesn’t inspire HOPE with this message.  Candidate after candidate has promised to do what is in the best interest of the country.  It’s a tired message and the last thing McCain wants voters to do is to associate him with old, tried messaging.

A relatively new tagline McCain has used at the end of his television commercials spikes more interest in me.  At the end of his latest ads he uses his familiar McCain-Palin symbol, but instead of their names he puts “Change is coming.”  This is what I believe he should have been framing his campaign on from the beginning.  This tagline instills HOPE in the voter by subtly suggesting that Obama is not the change he claims to be, and that McCain is marching valiantly towards the Whitehouse to save the country from itself.  He’s coming… he’ll be here any minute.  He’s coming… he’s the one to lift our country out of its sad state.  He’s coming to rescue us.

This entire election is about HOPE.  Obama didn’t invent this – he simply recognized it faster than McCain or any of the other Democratic candidates.  McCain finally figured this out, but sadly Obama already branded himself as the “HOPE” candidate.  Through his taglines and his framing of the campaign, Obama (intentionally or by accident) has successfully unlocked what America wants.  2008 was all about the correct message, and that message is HOPE.

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2 Comments

Filed under McCain, Obama

2 responses to “Why HOPE Rings True

  1. Matthew Wolf

    I certainly HOPE you are right…

    I heard a southern man interviewed on public radio yesterday. He was undecided, and said that while Obama “seems like a Harvard lawyer that talks over my head, McCain goes around in circles and seems to get nowhere.”

    For such voters, I think it may boil down to trust more than hope, and so many appear suspicious of intellect. Another man interviewed, who had always voted Democrat, was voting for McCain because “Obama never served in the military”!!

  2. Stephen Noriega

    I actually agree. Usually I am much more jaded but HOPE might truly work this time! Of course, I reserve the right to become instantly bitter after a possible Bradley Effect ruins any HOPE out there.

    But seriously, I do think that people want some with an optimistic, steady look. Obama has played this role better than McCain and that might help tip the scales in his favor.

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