Empowerment …

By now the  pair YouTube videos in support of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton respectively have  been viewed by  3.8 million (Yes we can) and hundreds of thousands at least (Hillary4U&Me).  As the saying goes, they have “gone viral.”

The Will.i.am “Yes we can” effort came first.  View it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fZHou18Cdk

And now we have “Hillary4U&Me” by a Clinton supporter.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FvyGydc8no

There has been some derisive commentary about the amateurish quality of the Hillary video, especially in comparison with the professional slickness that is the hallmark of the  “yes we can ” piece.

However I think it might be  more telling to look beyond a comparison of the production values and  use them as a prism to learn something about the fundamental dynamics of the two campaigns.

Let’s take a look at them chronologically .. meaning we analyze the “yes we can” video first, created in support of Barack Obama.

First we see Will.i.am …  and then we see and hear Barack Obama.  We hear cadences of the candidate’s oratory throughout the video.  Obama’s words are also heard in unison with the various artists — and echoed without the image of the Illinois senator.  It is a growing rhythmic chorus of musicians using the candidate’s words as a affirmation and culminating in the word “hope” that morphs into the word “vote.”

Will.i.am explains his inspiration  this way:

that speech… it inspired me…
it inspired me to look inside myself and outwards towards the world…
it inspired me to want to change myself to better the world…
and take a “leap” towards change…


What the “Yes we can” video reveals about the dynamics of the Obama campaign is the candidate’s vision of building a movement by empowering individuals.  Will.i.am and the other musicians  respond to this vision using the artistic medium that they are most familiar with — the music video.  It has a grassroots dynamism that is contagious and engaging because it is all about what the collective “we” can accomplish together.

In contrast the “Hillary4U&Me” video ‘s  message is a”support Hillary” and is all about what candidate Clinton will accomplish if folks just come out to vote for her.  That is the total level of involvement that seems to be expected of  Hillary Clinton’s supporters  — not that ordinary folks will take action to help end the war, stop global warming, fix the economy, etc. — but that Hillary Clinton has the solutions at the tips of her well-manicured fingers and citizens should just fall in line behind her so she can  make them happen.  Not that the collective “we” will take action to change things beyond electing Hillary Clinton.

This is a top-down style of leadership that permeates the Clinton campaign with lots of followership expected of everyone outside the inner circle

In contrast, the Obama campaign is all about action from the bottom up — based on Obama’s experience as a neighborhood organizer in Chicago.  Obama’s success is caucus states is a tribute to this grassroots style of organizing a campaign.  It empowers everyone to step up and have a role in shaping the  country’s destiny.

In a recent debate, Obama mentioned that he would like to see decision-making about health care reform take place on C-Span where the process would be out in the open — rather than bargained for with industry lobbyists behind closed doors.  This is a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated effort in the early 90’s, where all discussions took place in deepest secrecy behind those proverbial closed doors.

The two videos are but two more illustrations of the different decision making styles of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The one by Will.i.am is a perfect reflection of the grassroots empowerment that the Obama campaign inspires.   In contrast, the “Hillary4U&Me” captures the top down approach of the Clinton campaign.

Explore posts in the same categories: Democrats, Obama, politics, Will.i.am

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