Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Donald Miller thinks Barack Obama will be the next president

Ok, he didn't say that at all. In fact, he never even got close to that, but after hearing him at Fusion and reading his book lately, I'm convinced he believes Obama will be the next president.

Donald Miller spoke at Fusion about 'story' and how 'story' is more compelling than logic or reason. He talked about how 'story' existed a long time before the Age of the Enlightenment and Modernity. Donald Miller asserts that 'story' is more compelling than any list of pros and cons. He believes that people make decisions based upon the 'story' rather than on the logical choices.

It certainly appears to be true. Modern advertising is a 30 second story. Watch any car commercial. There is little or no discussion of the technical merits of the car. Instead, it is usually a family doing something fun like picnicking at the beach. Who doesn't buy that story?

If you apply Miller's thesis to the political process, it certainly seems to bear out since 1980 (before that, I don't have any personal experience). Time and time again, Democrats stare at polls and wonder what happened on election night. The majority of Americans support the majority of the Democratic policy ideas, but they keep losing the White House. This disconnect was the basis for the very popular "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

Yet, the Republicans have captured the White House 5 of the last 7 elections.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan told a good story. He sold himself to America as the man that could bring the American dream home to them. His story of coming from nothing to being something was compelling. He WAS the American Dream many felt they were losing.

The 1984 story for his re-election was the famous "morning in America" commercial and it was better than anything Walter Mondale could craft.

In 1988, President Bush Sr. was able to create a stronger story than Michael Dukakis by showing that it was Dukakis who was out of touch with America and didn't share America's same 'story'.

In 1992, a boy from Hope captivated us all and in 1996, he was able to do it again.

In 2000, the guy with a story just like ours was elected. President Bush crafted his story like an average guy, even though he was anything but. However, we liked his story over that stiff, wonky Al Gore character. Well, the electors did, anyway.

In 2004, the story was that Kerry wasn't who he said he was. We might have liked Kerry's stpry, but we weren't sure that his story would stay the same from day to day. "At least we knew where President Bush stood." How many times did you hear that?

In 2008, the candidate with the most compelling story is Barack Obama's. He is mixed-race, he comes from little, he's a smart guy who has worked extremely hard to get where he is. He has a squeeky clean image and no major character flaws. The only known flaws are the ones we can forgive, like sneaking the occasional cigarette. He believes in a better tomorrow. Who cares that he has minimal experience? He IS the guy we want to be.

Who can compete? Mitt "What moves more: my hair or my place of residence?" Romney? Rudoloph "On my 3rd wife" Giuliani? John "All War All the Time" McCain? Hillary "I'm the President's wife" Clinton? John "Which America do I belong to?" Edwards? Bill "What's my story?" Richardson?

Assuming that nothing shatters Obama's story, he can start measuring the Oval Office for drapes.