Mario Cuomo provided us with one of the truisms of politics that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. In her two presidential campaigns, Hillary Clinton has been the ultimate prose candidate, extolling her qualifications and experience but not inspiring those that are not true believers. The feeling of her campaign is that her resume should make her the logical choice for the presidency. However, in campaigns logic usually places second to emotion when people go to vote.
In 2008, Barack Obama offered people the hope of a better future. What that Hope meant was never well-defined but it gave people something to believe in. The true genius of the Hope message was that it allowed be people a chance to fill it in with their own hopes. People felt that Obama was going to give a chance for their dreams to be realized. As the prose of governing led to some people's hopes and dreams not coming true, some of those who believed in the poetry of the campaign have expressed disillusion and disappointment in the President.
However if they had heard the specifics of his message that hope involved bringing people together in Washington to get things done, then maybe they would have had more realistic expectations. However to those that lifted Obama to victory, specifics meant less than inspiration.
Bernie Sanders is now bringing the poetry of a populist revolution. The people will rise up against the big banks and corporations to take back America. This strikes a chord in many people who feels little control over their own lives and that the corporate power structure is getting all the privileges while ordinary Americans are left out. This is a message people get emotional about and why you see the outpouring of enthusiasm for Sanders. People want a candidate to realize their dreams and to inspire the country to change in their direction. It is largely a one note campaign but that note is making sweet music for many voters.
Thus far, the Clinton campaign has been running in prose. Hillary touts her experience and has said how much of what Sanders proposes doesn't have a chance of becoming law, particularly with a Republican congress. While this might be true, people on the campaign trail do not want to hear it. While Hillary keeps her strong supporters, her message is not inspiring others to flock to her campaign. At the end of the latest debate however I heard a message of poetry that can resonate with voters. Hillary began to talk about how the rights of all different types of people from the poor, to minorities, to the LGBT community to union members and others needed to be protected and that she did not forget this and would fight for everybody. This delivered with a passion and sincerity that should resonate. It is a theme that can inspire and bring together a strong coalition that can carry her to a convincing victory. It is strains of poetry coming from Hillary Clinton that can be transformative for her and her campaign.