"There's a trick to being strong…"

During my vacation, I found some time to start reading an advance copy of Jeffrey Feldman’s upcoming book, Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections). It is a great book that I hope anyone interested in politics spends some time reading.

We would do well to spend more time reading speeches of former leaders. The first speech analyzed is George Washington’s first inaugural address. He spoke about being called by “the voice of my country”. Feldman talks about the “humble servant” frame, of great leaders responding to a call by the country and a recognition that they it takes much more than just a great leader to solve our country’s problems, it takes the strength of the American people.

When my wife ran for State Representative in 2004, she reflected upon this theme in an address to the local Democratic Committee.

Perhaps I’ve been more involved than many people my age. I have always made it to the voting booth. However, other than voting, I never thought too much about my responsibility in the political process.

Then George W. Bush became president, and suddenly the America I grew up in seemed to be losing itself. A booming economy slowed to a trickle, and environmental legislation seemed to go backwards. September 11th happened, and then it seemed possible, for a brief moment, that we would come together as a nation and rally once more. We had the world’s sympathy and support. But that only lasted for a moment, and then we slipped even further into economic downturn and world isolation.

As I’ve watched the current presidential campaigns, I’ve wondered if anyone will embrace the humble servant frame. For the past forty years, our candidates have seemed to shun this frame. They have been caught up in the hero worship and the idea that if you vote for them, they will solve all our problems.

Fiona on the Beach at Chatham

Fiona on the Beach at Chatham, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Another day of taking it easy and heading off to the beach. Monday we went to Chatham, where this picture of Fiona is from. Tuesday, we went up to Provincetown and today we went to a beach near Falmouth.

This evening we had lobsters. Tomorrow, we wrap things up and head home.

I've posted a little bit to the blogs and thought about a bunch of other things which I hope will show up in future posts.

For other pictures of our trip, check out the pictures tagged Cape Cod.

Note: Miranda took a lot of these pictures.

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Act Different

On March 5, ParkRidge47 posted the video Vote Different on YouTube. The next day, xxxgrimREAPERx posted it as 1984and since then, people have been around the URL in emails and IM messages. Then, on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the video and it crossed over into the traditional mainstream media.

Everyone has to share their comments about how important this video is. It will become, people argue, the iconic video indicating the transition from a broadcast era of politics to a new era of politics. Instead of being a half million dollar advertisement, it is something that anyone could produce. It represents a fundamentally new style of politics.

Well, whenever such grandiose claims come along, someone always needs to present a different view point. Let me take a crack at that. First, using Apple advertisements to communicate a political message online isn’t anything new. Back in 2003, a bunch of grassroots volunteers created the I Switched to Dean online video campaign. People shared the URL, bought the DVD. YouTube wasn’t around at the time, and it didn’t cross over into the traditional mainstream the way Vote Different has, so they haven’t become the icon that people are predicting Vote Different will be.

As to being something that anyone could make, well, I think that might be an overstatement as well. I spend time talking at various conferences encouraging people to start making their own videos. Many people have cellphones that can shoot video. Others have digital cameras that can shoot good video, and others have gotten digital video cameras that can shoot great videos. Yet when I speak at conferences, very few people know how to shoot a video with their cameras and then get it online. Those who do rarely have any idea about how to do more than the most rudimentary video editing, and those who can edit, rarely are well versed in framing a political message. I know very few people that could have pulled off a video like Vote Different.

Will the video encourage others to learn how to shoot video with the devices they already have, learn how to upload, learn how to edit, and learn how to frame a message? I hope so. If that happens, then the video could end up being incredibly important.

On Vacation

Well, there are a lot of interesting and exciting things going on right now, so, we've decided it is a good time to take a vacation. Over the coming week, the posts will be sparse and most likely more about personal, family, and maybe a little bit of nature stuff.

Fiona and the Peace Snowman

Fiona and the Peace Snowman, originally uploaded by Aldon.

At the end of the Peace Rally in Hartford Connecticut this afternoon, Fiona posed with her sign next to the Peace Snowman.

Click here to see the whole set of photos from the rally.

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