Obama's 'fill-in-the-blank' campaign strategy an epic failure

Deborah Phillips
Leading up to the 2008 election, Barack Obama employed a remarkable campaign strategy, one that ensured that he and many other Democrats would win big in that election but at the same time also ensured that the Democrats would lose big in the 2010 election. This incredibly powerful strategy, one that is as potent in causing a major triumph in one election as it is in causing a major defeat in a subsequent election, is the fill-in-the-blank strategy. 

Picture all those starry-eyed Obamatons of 2008 chanting to their Grecian column-flanked deity, "Yes, we can...Yes, we can...Yes, we can." This chant caused more rational observers to question, "Yes, we can what?" However, the chanters had no need to ask the what question inasmuch as each of them was filling in his or her own personal dream: yes, we can end the wars; yes, we can end racism; yes, we can live in harmony with the rest of the world; yes, we can allow gays to marry or to serve openly in the military; yes, we can close Guantanamo; yes, we can improve the economy; yes, we can provide jobs for all; yes, we can provide healthcare for all; yes, we can provide homeownership for all; yes, we can redistribute wealth.

The same was true of the hope 'n change mantra; while rational observers were asking, "Hope for what?...Change what?," the chanters had no need to question the meaning because they each had a personalized vision of the coming Obamerica. This strategy by the Obama campaign in 2008 was near perfection as so many devotees projected their personal dreams onto the blank slate that was their chosen one.

These supporters filled in the blanks following, "Yes, we can ___," and "Hope _____," and "Change _____," and the Obama campaign allowed each of them to fill in the blanks in their own way even as campaign staff had to know with certainty that Obama had very specific answers for those blanks but that it was best politically not to specify his precise responses until after the election.

 

Now, almost two years later, the fill-in-the-blank strategy employed so successfully by the Obama campaign in 2008 has backfired; it has led to the inevitable downfall of the Obama presidency and to an equally inevitable loss in the 2010 election by those who most rigorously supported the Obamagenda with their votes in Congress. Many of the starry-eyed fans of 2008 have turned into the bleary-eyed walking wounded as they have grown to realize that they have been duped. The myriad fill-in-the-blank responses that they had been allowed to believe were shared by their messiah prior to the 2008 election were mere projections of their personal hopes and dreams and were not at all in synch with the far-left to-do list of the very ungod-like, very human, and very inexperienced person they had propelled into the Oval Office.

 

As we approach the 2010 elections, conservatives must take heed. It is comparatively easy to win an election by overpromising, but promising what cannot possibly be delivered will lead to almost certain defeat in subsequent elections. The best path for conservative candidates in 2010 is to set out thoughtful and rational goals that can be accomplished over the next two years and then, once elected, to work directly and earnestly toward the accomplishment of the goals they have specified. This, rather than overpromising in the hope of garnering additional votes, is the path to longstanding success over the years to come.

 


Leading up to the 2008 election, Barack Obama employed a remarkable campaign strategy, one that ensured that he and many other Democrats would win big in that election but at the same time also ensured that the Democrats would lose big in the 2010 election. This incredibly powerful strategy, one that is as potent in causing a major triumph in one election as it is in causing a major defeat in a subsequent election, is the fill-in-the-blank strategy.

 

Picture all those starry-eyed Obamatons of 2008 chanting to their Grecian column-flanked deity, "Yes, we can...Yes, we can...Yes, we can." This chant caused more rational observers to question, "Yes, we can what?" However, the chanters had no need to ask the what question inasmuch as each of them was filling in his or her own personal dream: yes, we can end the wars; yes, we can end racism; yes, we can live in harmony with the rest of the world; yes, we can allow gays to marry or to serve openly in the military; yes, we can close Guantanamo; yes, we can improve the economy; yes, we can provide jobs for all; yes, we can provide healthcare for all; yes, we can provide homeownership for all; yes, we can redistribute wealth.

The same was true of the hope 'n change mantra; while rational observers were asking, "Hope for what?...Change what?," the chanters had no need to question the meaning because they each had a personalized vision of the coming Obamerica. This strategy by the Obama campaign in 2008 was near perfection as so many devotees projected their personal dreams onto the blank slate that was their chosen one.

These supporters filled in the blanks following, "Yes, we can ___," and "Hope _____," and "Change _____," and the Obama campaign allowed each of them to fill in the blanks in their own way even as campaign staff had to know with certainty that Obama had very specific answers for those blanks but that it was best politically not to specify his precise responses until after the election.

 

Now, almost two years later, the fill-in-the-blank strategy employed so successfully by the Obama campaign in 2008 has backfired; it has led to the inevitable downfall of the Obama presidency and to an equally inevitable loss in the 2010 election by those who most rigorously supported the Obamagenda with their votes in Congress. Many of the starry-eyed fans of 2008 have turned into the bleary-eyed walking wounded as they have grown to realize that they have been duped. The myriad fill-in-the-blank responses that they had been allowed to believe were shared by their messiah prior to the 2008 election were mere projections of their personal hopes and dreams and were not at all in synch with the far-left to-do list of the very ungod-like, very human, and very inexperienced person they had propelled into the Oval Office.

 

As we approach the 2010 elections, conservatives must take heed. It is comparatively easy to win an election by overpromising, but promising what cannot possibly be delivered will lead to almost certain defeat in subsequent elections. The best path for conservative candidates in 2010 is to set out thoughtful and rational goals that can be accomplished over the next two years and then, once elected, to work directly and earnestly toward the accomplishment of the goals they have specified. This, rather than overpromising in the hope of garnering additional votes, is the path to longstanding success over the years to come.