Do words make reality?

/ 26 February 2008

Arianna Huffington writes about the magic of words in the Huffington Post.

So let’s look at how Obama uses words. Contrary to Clinton’s charges, Obama never claims his words will somehow magically create change. Instead, he uses his words to ask the American people to demand change. … Which is why Obama’s constant invocation is “Yes we can” — not “Yes I can.” Obama uses words to persuade, to mobilize and to get people to imagine that reality can be changed. And based on how his campaign has been run, on the ground, in state after state, it’s clear that he knows changing reality is not done through magic — it’s done through hard work.

She spends a lot of time dissecting Clinton’s Bushy way of asserting an alternate reality through words, but I don’t care to go there. What I think is most interesting his her recognition that Obama uses words to build a movement, to empower the people around him, to dare to raise expectations.

We spend so much time lowering expectations so we can plus them later without jumping through as high a bar. I’m guilty of that all the time! Isn’t it remarkable that Obama calls out for the best in us and hits a resonant note, one that vibrates in our hearts and makes us want to be the force for that best vision? This is a pretty risky thing to do as a politician. He will have to govern down the middle somewhere, we will feel betrayed, but he is asking us to hold not only today’s Washington accountable, but tomorrow’s. He is asking us to be tomorrow’s Washington.

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