The Long Shadows
So, here we are, three years on from the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and on the eve of a Presidential election defined by what we have done in response. Given the record, it is clear that if the election were to be based on a rational decision, Kerry would win in a landslide. Unfortunately, however, the decision will be based largely on emotional responses as well. While liberals are driven to fits of aggravation over this, this is the aspect of the election that Bush understands the best and where he has the advantage.
Paul Krugman had an excellent column
this week on the mythic reality underlying this election. This is an area that Kerry and the Democrats have neglected to their peril. In this campaign, the mythic terms and Jungian archetypes are almost as important as the policy proposals. Presidents Clinton was a master of speaking to the American myths. Senator Hillary Clinton is smart enough to recognize the need to speak to citizens on such mythic terms even though it is not her usual approach. She is not a master, but she makes the effort.
I am concerned that Kerry doesn’t get this. Recently, the chief question that I have gotten from likely Democratic voters is that they do not have a sense of who Kerry is. They have not heard enough about what he has done in the Senate and about what is offering for the four years ahead. These concerns go to the emotional heart and to the American myths of progress and of our place in the world. Those concerns will be the focal points of this election. Back in December and January when Dean was looking like the runaway favorite and Kerry’s campaign was in disarray, Kerry stepped up, spoke to the voters’ concerns, and turned his campaign around. Let us all hope that Kerry gets to the emotional heart of this election in time.