Sunday, October 19, 2008

The middle

"[T]hat is FDR's lesson for Obama. Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle."

--Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft

This is what I mean when I talk about language and naming in politics. This is why I follow politics as closely as I do (other than because I'm a junkie)--because I want to see not just what people are saying but how they are saying it. Because how they say it reveals how they think about these problems, how problems and their potential solutions are positioned in people's minds.

Probably my single greatest disappointment with Obama so far (though he may yet come through) is that he is uniquely well positioned to redefine the terms of American politics and has not done so. He is a candidate premised on "change" and a fresh perspective, coming at the end of a political and ideological era, with outstanding command of language. That he has not done more to obliterate Republican framing of politics, problems, and people and replace it with a more progressive lens makes me put my head down on my desk.

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