Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To Change the Future, Change the Conversation

It's too soon to know how it will work out, but you've got to admire President Obama's williingness to change the conversation. His willingness to go talk face-to-face and on TV with the Republican caucus, with the Democratic caucus, with both caucuses at the same time--to put his ideas out there and let the people watch and judge for themselves--may or may not "work." That is, there's no way of predicting how it will turn out.
But it's safe to recognize that doing more of the same isn't working, won't work, and can't work.
The whole political process is constipated. Each side is locked in its own predictable role. The media covers every political conversation as a pre-scripted exchange. The victory by Brown in Massachusetts is heralded as a "Republican" win--but friends of mine in the Bay State say that's very narrow thinking. They say it had more to do with voter anger at big money, big bail outs, big interests getting taken care of by the politicians in Our Nation's Capitol, and not a partisan vote.
Still, the "narrative" as Jon Stewart remarked to Bill O on his show, has already been laid out. The parts have been assigned and the lines already written.
So why not do what the President is doing: demonstrate your willingness to change the game, to re-frame the narrative, to re-write the script, to change the conversation.
The pundits in our nation's newspapers have been signaling the need for America to find a new basis for solving problems. We can't have one recalcitrant, narcissistic senator putting a wide-spread hold on the nation's business! We can't have rules in the Senate that grind the public's business to a halt! We can't continue to neglect jobs creation, infrastructure investment, public education reform--not and hope to have a sustainable future!
The pundits who say those things aren't wrong--they're just giving us the same old same old.
They need to change the conversation--they need to insist on a regular spot on the front pages of their papers to elevate the urgency of the moment.
Or begin a YouTube series with pundits joining together to produce an "urgent video series."
Or do what President Obama is doing: challenge those who are supposed to be in power to a straightforward discussion of the issues--and put it on TV. How about a "pundits versus the powerbrokers" as a regular once-a-week TV program--replacing some of the tired, worn out shows that are stuck in the same old same old?
If we really want to change the future, we need to change the conversation.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb