01 September 2008

The Power of a Postive Message

I've got to leave in a few minutes to do a little Labor Day canvassing, but I wanted to interrupt the flow of non-stop Palin posts to reflect on the Democratic convention.

The overwhelming takeaway, for me, is that my politics must no longer be an exercise in rhetoric but a starting point for action. I've said before that if the last two presidential elections have taught Dems anything, it's that voting alone is no longer enough. Democracy is more than simply exercising the vote. It's taking advantage of our freedoms to perform good works in our communities and in our world. This is the simple genius that Obama taps into: common purpose = common good.

We all want a better health care system. We all want better schools in the U.S. We all want the U.S. out of Iraq. We all want greater senses of freedom and security nationwide. We all want tax relief, or at least a sense that our tax dollars are being well spent. We all want government to listen and to show good faith.

If we can agree that we all hope for positive change in these areas, then we must be able to find ways to work toward equity and a little bit of the improvement we so desperately seek. It seems preposterous to say, but there was genuine goodwill in Denver last week. Not because the Democrats were in town, and not because Denver was the spotlight of so much attention, but because people on the streets were excited and hopeful. Denver's not short on positivity to begin with, but last week evidenced a surplus of it. That good will, that combination of excitement plus hope, delivers new fuel to tired political discourse. It also motivates political effort and community involvement, which I only hope we'll see become more and more linked in the years to come.

This is the enthusiasm gap so often referenced between the two parties. Democrats this year are genuinely high on positive messages. It helps that the candidate is thoughtful, charismatic, and charming. It helps even more that the message is one we can practice ourselves.