. . . Thursday January 31, 2008

Hill and Barack: What’s the Difference?

George Lakoff takes a crack at distinguishing some very glaring differences between the two Democratic frontrunners, who seem to have a ton of overlap when it comes to policy positions:

First, triangulation: moving to the right — adopting right-wing positions — to get more votes. Bill Clinton did it and Hillary believes in it. It is what she means by “bipartisanship.” Obama means the opposite by “bipartisanship.” To Obama, it is a recognition that central progressive moral principles are fundamental American principles. For him, bipartisanship means finding people who call themselves “conservatives” or “independents,” but who share those central American values with progressives. Obama thus doesn’t have to surrender or dilute his principles for the sake of “bipartisanship.”

The second is incrementalism: Hillary believes in getting lots of small carefully crafted policies through, one at a time, step by small step, real but almost unnoticed. Obama believes in bold moves and the building of a movement in which the bold moves are demanded by the people and celebrated when they happen. This is the reason why Hillary talks about “I,” I,” “I” (the crafter of the policy) and Obama talks about “you” and “we” (the people who demand it and who jointly carry it out).

The third is interest group politics: Hillary looks at politics through interests and interest groups, seeking policies that satisfy the interests of such groups. Obama’s thinking emphasizes empathy over interest groups. He also sees empathy as central to the very idea of America. The result is a positive politics grounded in empathy and caring that is also patriotic and uplifting.

I think there is another even more important reason why Hillary says. “I, I, I.” Because when she says “We” we are are not thinking of us and her, we are thinking of her and Bill.

Concentration is important!