Hope and ‘Message Discipline’

pardon all property crime! from optikal.s flickr

pardon all property crime! from optikal.'s flickr

My greatest concern coming out of the election is how Obama and his supports will respond to criticisms from the left. This was a well-run campaign with a strong unifying central message of hope, that prided itself on ‘message discipline,’ even going so far as to ask that independent left-leaning organizations stay out of the race, and not try any 527-style swiftboatings.

In doing this, Obama effectively eliminated any organized capacity for criticism of his campaign. He shut down independent organizations and funneled all of their energy into his campaign-machine, one of his great success stories. He left very little in his wake that might be able to hold him accountable.

Remember FISA? The losing battle to keep Obama from endorsing the new wiretapping bill worked through My.BarackObama.com, not through a group with an independent voice or support. They failed to leverage any real pressure, because all of their organizing energy funneled into the incredible force of the Obama organizing machine.

Also: Hope. I mentioned before how ‘hope’ and ‘positivity’ can become a straightjacket, and that’s a genuine concern. I’ve already been chastised for trying to introduce criticisms of the police and prisons into discussions about what the election means, largely on the grounds of wanting to remain ‘positive.’ I don’t believe ‘hope’ or ‘change’ is the exclusive domain of someone who ultimately represents the lesser of two evils, and I’m really worried that these words will become the new “Support our troops” of the left. And that’s bullshit.


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