The Success of Hope

Campaigns are all about emotions.

Campaigns are all about emotions. They are not rationale or logical and voters, despite their best protestations, don’t make their choice based on the “issues.” People vote based on how they “feel.” You hear it in focus groups all the time: “I just like him” or “She is just like me” or “He scares me.” You rarely hear “I disagree with his vote on the bankruptcy bill.” People vote on emotion because they are consumers and consumers make every purchase based on emotion – does this product make me feel better, smarter, prettier and/or richer? This is why negative political ads work. They prey on the easiest emotions to illicit in people – fear and anger. But the most powerful emotion is hope. Hope brings people together while fear and anger tear them apart. But hope is very tough in politics because it takes trust. And Americans tend to not trust politicians of any party. Barack Obama, though, made us trust him. And what we saw last night both in the amazing results nationwide and in the incredibly diverse crowd cheering in Chicago was hope. What made older white voters overcome their own history was hope. What made new voters choose to finally participate was hope. What made the ever-illusive college kids not only vote but spend weeks and months working for him was hope. It's hope that America’s best days are ahead of us, not behind us. Hope that all we dream is possible. It is an incredibly tall order and I pray that Barack Obama is truly the man he has convinced us he is and that he takes America to the place he has promised he will. But today I am just going to bask in the warm glow of an emotion that has been gone from politics for too long. I hope you join me.Liz Chadderdon is president of the Chadderdon Group, a Democratic direct mail firm.

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