Martin Luther King, Jr. has returned to the news. A Christian Minister who actively used his ministry to engage social issues and the government – he dreamed about a future of peace and prosperity. His resonating dream was inspirational and people followed. Was that a fluke of history, or is that a standard that has perrenial appeal?
Different candidates frame the issues in different contexts. Some are optimistic, some realistic, some down right negative about the future. Either we have hit a bump in the road of progress or the world is coming to an end. Some of the candidates are trying to be honest, some of them are playing to the crowd to win votes. It is left to the voters to decide who is most in tune with reality. The decision of the voters will tell us something about the mental and emotional health of the populace.
Barack Obama hit the stage last year with the ‘audacity of hope.’ Whew, who doesn’t want to have hope? Hillary reminded us of the 1990’s when the there was world peace and the economy was booming – who doesn’t want that? Mitt Romney has gone into Michigan and virtually promised the voters there that he will restore the automobile industry – If you live in Michigan that message sure sounds like the right ticket. Rudy Giuliani is the man if your concern is fighting terrorism – he is a crime fighter from way back. Huckabee reports that God is personally supporting his candidacy and will be his Vice President.
John McCain has taken an approach that life is tough but together we can make it better. Joe Biden spoke to the truth of the dangers in Pakistan. Ron Paul would have us believe that everything government is everything bad. The Iraq war is disastrous vs. The Iraq war will lead to peace and democracy in the middle east.
My question is simple. What is the message that American voters want to hear? And what does that say about the state of the countries emotional health? And is the truth as important as the image the candidates present? Does the support of any particular candidate tell us something about ourselves?
My notion is that the results so far suggest that this country has a healthy balance of optimists, realists, and cynics. The voting distribution across the spectrum of candidate messages says that hope sells. Optimism, tempered with recognizing real problems, is the ticket to the White House.
Hope is healthy. Optimism is healthy. When I see voters stacking up behind candidates who speak of the hope of the future I am gratified.