Friday, January 11, 2008

Joe Trippi, John Edwards and the Politics of "We"

In December of 2006, Joe Trippi wrote an insightful piece on MyDD about the difference between the transformational politics of "we" versus the transactional politics of "me." Here's a portion:
All modern campaigns and transactional campaigns are built around a candidate who proclaims to the nation "Look at me -- aren't I amazing?". The Dean campaign (and any transformational campaign successful or not) was built around a candidate who proclaimed "Look at you -- aren't you amazing?"This strikes me as essential. More than ideology, or any other factor -- true transformational leadership can only come from a candidate who fundamentally gets that it isn't about him/her -- its about us. So in terms of 2008 is Hillary capable or realizing that she is not the center of the universe -- that the political world and even her own campaign does not revolve around her? Obama? Edwards? Who? Anyone?

Trippi was dead on the money in this analysis, and in the early stages of the his campaign, it was clear that John Edwards "got it." Last April, just days before Trippi joined the Edwards campaign,, I heard it in Edwards' powerful speech in Macon. Edwards spoke eloquently about how no one can do it alone, about how change does not happen in the Oval office so much as it happens in living rooms like the one we were standing in. "Together we can change this country" was his challenge to us, and at that point if John Edwards had asked me to pick up a shovel or pen a check, it would've been my pleasure to do either. The powerful "we"was evident in the structure of the campaign, particularly in the strong embrace of Web 2.0 and the One Corps program. I have no doubt that Edwards still "gets it," but sometime during the summer, even though he has continued to say "it's not about us [referring to the candidates] the message got muddy and Edwards-and all the other candidates both Democrats and Republicans-ceded the "we" message to Obama.

It is beyond ironic that Joe Trippi, who clearly understands the power of "we," allowed his candidate to move to "I will fight for you."

When the analysis of this primary season is done, I suspect that this change will stand out as one of the critical turning points. Ultimately, the candidate who wins the Presidency, will convince the American people that "we" are in this together, and that "we" need a leader who will help "us" fight to take our country back. John Edwards can take back the "we" message-it is authentically a part of who he is, but he needs to do it right now.


Tina said...

I hope he comes out strongly on the economy. Now's the time to really stress the specifics of what Americans are enduring in this faltering economy. As a retiree with TWO forms of insurance --Medicare Part D and State Health Benefit Play -- my out of pocket drug expense in 2007 was $1352. I am P.O.A. for an uncle who is in a nursing home. He has managed his resources and investments wisely, but he lost $8000 (stock market) on the last report we received. GAS for commuting, shopping, and getting the kids to/from school and activities is a major expense for my daughter and son-in-law. And, if he gets transferred, will they be able to sell their house? The time for generalities is over. I want to hear specifics from candidates.
"Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?"
And how are we going to get turned around again and headed in a better direction?

Open+Transparent said...

Interesting exchange on John Edwards on the last Bill Maher. Young guy from Rolling Stone mentioned how the MSM ignores him and is scared of him, but Tony Snow and Mark Cuban of all people jumped all over the young guy. Mhaer backed up Edwards.

Third Rail said...

Check out this article, it outlines a strategy on how the Edwards campaign could defeat Hillary Clinton. Check it out at