A Divided Electorate Needs A Unified Message

At my annual advocacy presentation to my friend David Eng’s New School class on nonprofit management, I asked the students, “what are some good messages you have heard recently?” Someone said “let’s make America great again,” to a chorus of nodding heads, repeating Donald Trump’s message, a presidential choice they all disavowed.

Then someone said “feel the Bern.” But when I asked what Hillary Clinton’s message was, no one could say. Realizing that, oops, I couldn’t say it either (and this is something I pay a lot of attention to), I decided to go to Hillary’s official website, where after a few tries I was able to finally get past the donate threshold for entry. There is no message. Rather there is a list of 112 Reasons to Vote for Hillary Clinton. A veritable legal brief making her case. But no message. While her husband was able to reduce his re-election message to three words: “community, opportunity, responsibility,” and Barack Obama down to two: “hope and change,” Hillary is running on 112 reasons.

Maybe she feels that she is the message, because for a while we saw “I’m With Her” (although it is not on her website either). If that is the case, she is in real trouble given her high unfavorable ratings. She needs a powerful, emotive, memorable and unifying theme to galvanize a divided electorate and mobilize them to vote. Now would be the time to get one because the court of public opinion just doesn’t read legal briefs.

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