Thursday, March 06, 2008

"They just began SINGING AT ME, and they were singing 'YES WE CAN'!"

A few weeks ago, covered in Hillary badges, I approached a young couple in California and, as I was about to offer up my pearls of electoral wisdom, they just began singing at me. And they were singing Yes We Can, the song by Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am, whose video has become a phenomenon on YouTube. [...]

[T]his week, the musician has put out another singalong. The new video captures a different side to supporting Obama: its fanaticism, its breathless, quasi-religious excitement, and its inherent problems. Instead of the text of a speech, the refrain has simply become "Obama", and its message: "We are the ones."

The Obama campaign uses a religious calling as its central rhetorical trope: "I'm asking you to believe," reads the banner across the top of His appeal to voters is an archetype of religious conversion: instead of being asked for support, Americans are exhorted to "join the movement".

In Georgia, he directly equated his supporters with God's people: "God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city… and when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down."

Later in the speech, he asked the congregation to "walk with me, march with me… and if enough of our voices join together, we can bring those walls tumbling down."

Obama supporters listen to his speech in San Antonio, Texas. REUTERS/Jim Young

Obama has created the impression that Clinton supporters, like the Pharisees in the temple, are obstacles to change: "I want to speak directly to all those Americans who have yet to join this movement but still hunger for change. They know it in their gut... But they're afraid. They've been taught to be cynical."

It's not an argument for better government; it's an exhortation to see the light. It's not a plan for the Presidency, but a leap of faith.

This idea came to a head in Obama's Super Tuesday speech, with those much talked about phrases: "We are the change that we seek… We are the ones we've been waiting for."

'We Are The Chosen Ones': A new hymn to Obama Telegraph [UK] March 6, 2008.