The power of story

If you’re interested in the future of the progressive movement, I would urge you to check out this article from Paul Waldman over at the “American Prospect”.

He analyzes the success of Barack Obama so far and finds the key in Obama’s ability craft a compelling story about why he should be the next president of the United States. He also analyzes Hillary Clinton’s failure to do the same thing.

Story is critical. Story works. A good story cuts through the clutter, clarifies, and compels people to action.

And liberals have been sorely lacking for story for a long time.

You might or might not agree with Barack Obama’s story. That’s fine. But coming up with a story – a narrative – is a critical project for the progressive movement.

The conservative movement has its own basic story (“The nation was nearly destroyed by the decadent, permissive, radical 1960’s and 70’s, until Ronald Reagan led us to a new greatness, etc., etc.), and it’s ridden that story to great success for a long time. And it’s widely accepted. Scratch a conservative, and you’ll quickly get some version of this story awfully quickly.

What would a liberal or progressive say his or her story is?

I’m not quite sure yet. I recently finished Paul Krugman’s “Conscience of a Liberal”, and he presents one version. I’ll get to that in a separate post.

I’ll says this, though, whatever story the progressive movement comes up with, it’s got to tie into some basic values. It has to reflect the moral outlook of the progressive movement, too. I’ve done some writing about that on this blog, and I’m still looking into other sources. Right now, I’m reading “Framing the Future” by Bernie Horn. More on that in a different post.

By the way, if you want to read more by Paul Waldman, I highly recommend his book “Being Right Is Not Enough.”

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