A Narrative of Hope

I was thinking about headlines and book titles the other the other day, and it spawned a thought which I thought I'd follow up on. To what extent can the winners of politics be predicted using their slogans?

Well, here's some of the most successful political campaign slogans for the past fifty or so years. See if you can spot the commonality...

A time for greatness - JFK 1960

The time has come for America to be great again

Labour isn't working - Thatcher 1979

We'll get Britain working again.

It's morning again in America - Reagan 1984

A new dawn, a new day, a new light. The new day will be better.

Kinder, gentler nation/thousand points of light - Bush 1988

A nation where you'll be taken care of, and looked after.

For people, for a change - Clinton 1992

We're changing the world to care about you and your tribe.

BUilding a bridge to the 21st century - Clinton 1996

A brighter future awaits on the horizon and we're going to get you there.

Things can only get better

The worst is over, we'll help make the world better again

A safer world and a more hopeful America - Bush 2004

Looking towards a better, brighter future, where you'll feel safe again.

Change we can believe in - Obama 2008

An America changed by honest, trustworthy people, to help you

Forward - Obama 2012

Marching towards progress every day

Take back control - Brexit

You'll have power over your own destiny again

Make America great again - Trump 2016

The time has come for America to be great again

Hope Always Wins

The common theme? No matter how bad you feel the world is now, we're offering you hope for a better tomorrow.

Contrast all these with the messages that lost, and they're either not hopeful, bland, confusing, long or nuanced.

Nuance and detail doesn't tell a story of a brighter future. Facts don't feed the imagination. Truth doesn't stir the soul. Winning simply requires telling a better story of tomorrow than the other guy.

There's something in this for writing too - the idea that it's not nuance or plotting perfection that makes for a great read. A story isn't great because of internal consistency - look at the Harry Potter books.

What engages people, what makes them care is the emotional content. Making them feel something. In storyland, the best story wins.

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