The Difference Between Obama & Clinton: “We” vs. “I”

It’s history now, the South Carolina primary, that is. Barack Obama trounced “Mrs. Inevitable”  Clinton and “Home State Johnny” Edwards in that southern state on Saturday, reigniting his campaign and making his chance at winning the Democratic nomination even better than before. And while the Obama campaign celebrated their victory, the Clinton campaign could only wonder what went wrong.

I’ve got an idea though, and it’s something that I’ve said before. There is a fundamental difference between the campaign of Clinton and Obama, but you have to listen carefully to really hear it. It’s not so much in their policy ideas- both want to help average Americans with health care and the economy; they both talk about developing energy independence and protecting the environment; they both talk about schools and jobs and retirement concerns. And with some minor detail differences, it’s tough to distinguish one message from the other. But there is an overriding difference, and that difference could make all the difference in the world.

The difference is simple- in speech after speech, Clinton’s main focus is what she will do for you. Take a look at her pre-State of the Union remarks today and you will find a whole lot of “I believe this” and “I will do that.” Clinton is so ensconced in the politics of one doing it all for the many that she is missing the driving force behind the Obama candidacy, and the force that is energizing voters in ways not seen in decades. That force is the simple inclusion of us all.

Obama, after his win in South Carollina took some time to thank supporters and stump for the next big contest. Take a peek- notice the almost near absense of the word “I”? Instead, Obama talks about what WE can do, things WE can fix, change WE can make. Obama knows that America is tired of the special interests that tie politicians to corporations, leaving out the American people. We are tired of politics that make the politician and their sinuous ties to corporate money the most important piece of the puzzle. We are finished with the pay to play mentality that all of DC is immersed in. We are ready for a real change, and Obama alone is talking the talk that puts average Americans at the front of that change.

Look, I’m no fool. I know that the kind of change Obama presents won’t magically occur when Obama take the oath of office. That would be but the start. Once elected, he would still face the same intransigent system he is railing against. But is he used his office effectively, and the bully pulpit as well, he could ask the American people to continue the change they began and turn out all the politicians who won’t evolve. He could energize the voters to put new people in place who would feel the need to change the corruption so endemic to our national politics. And to do that, he needs all of us- the “we” he speaks of so much.

Change will not come to American politics unless American voters fight for it and toss the bums out who insist on keeping things as they are. Hillary Clinton’s campaign focus on herself and her abilities is just more of the same- big brother politics that say Americans can’t handle the tasks of government without the “pro’s” running the show. Well Hillary- we’ve seen how badly the “pro’s” have screwed things up. It’s time for a change. And Obama is the only one offering the kind of change we really want and need. The difference between old politics and new politics is easy to spot when you know what to look for. See if you can tell the difference yourself…

From Hillary:

 ”If you will stand with me, if you here in Connecticut will support me on February 5th, I promise you that I will get up every single day and wage a winning campaign against whomever the Republicans nominate.I’ve been up against Republicans for a very long time now. I was thinking the other day, wouldn’t it be nice if they just announced that they were embarrassed about what happened to the country and they weren’t going to run for the White House again? Somehow I don’t think that is going to happen. I think we will have to wage a vigorous and winning campaign. Since I have been on the receiving end of their incoming fire for all of these years and much to their dismay, I am still standing here, I think I know how to take us to victory in November.”

From Obama:

“Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can seize our future. And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs, and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many we are one, that while we breathe we will hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words: Yes, we can. “

Now ask yourself this question: Do you want a government that views you as a partner or one that views you as a dependent. Because that is the real difference between these two candidates. And that is what you need to think about.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

12 Responses to “The Difference Between Obama & Clinton: “We” vs. “I””

  1. rube cretin Says:

    I got to vote tomorrow and find your missive interesting. found your sum up statement interesting. “Do you want a government that views you as a partner or one that views you as a dependent. ”

    this statement is apparently based on the candidates rhetoric, which i am sorry just don’t get it for me. This shit is focus group tested to the last degree. this time i want competence. the whole thing reminds me of a university near me who during the 70’s and 80’s elected minorities and gays to all kinds of offices ,home coming queen and student body president because they wanted to send a message that they were either hip, or just didn’t care anymore about this stuff. obama is a very impressive person and i will vote for him in nov. if he is the nominee. but for now i am going to go with what i think is most competence. Listen to Ted’s speech today. pure pandering and i have heard it all before. The MSM is going for obama all over the news tonight and that makes me nervous. Sure billary is playing loose but look what they are up against. how do you combat hope? but then some of us know that hope is deep down inside a desire and reality frequently deals harshly with emotional responses to real problems. i’m going to vote for edwards tomorrow if he’s on the ballot. i believe he is the most feared candidate of those who currently run this government and country.

  2. Ken Grandlund Says:


    i hear what you are saying vis-a-vis the vetting of campaign messaging. but that doesn’t change the fundamental differences between the messages- one focuses on the self while the other focuses on the group. could it be just populist bs? sure, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.

    absent Obama, Edwards would be my man- I liked him in ‘04 after all. But in the world of politics as it is now, I don’t think he’d make much traction towards his stated goals (hell- all of their stated goals sound similar)-and the face of the game isn’t gonna change if the leadership doesn’t really want and/or prod the voters into helping bring change.

    Sure- hope floats eternal. but that is no reason to totally discount it’s effect and appeal. And every now and then it actually grows into tangible actions.

    I know we need serious change. I don’t see anyone on either side who is pushing an agenda of change like Obama is doing. Not just some tweaks here and there, but a revolutionary kind of change that delivers government back into the hands of the citizens and away from the corruption and monied corporations.

    As I note, rhetoric and desire aren’t enough- the people have to give the man what he needs- an honest Congress committed to ending play for pay politics-and he’ll need both the White House and the courage to ask for more help from voters to get it.

    This would need to be a different kind of politician too- not like when Bush had a compliant Congress and gave him everything he needled them for. I don’t care what party these poeple could come from-so long as they are committed to working for the American people and not the special interests, their future as lobbyists, or their own bank account.

    This seems to me to be what Obama is talking about-and I don’t heaer it from anyone else.

  3. rube cretin Says:

    please excuse my incoherent comments. i, an old man, have been to the doctor today and they have stuck everything but the kitchen sink up my a… thankfully they gave me some stuff to make the intrusions tolerable. but it ain’t worn off yet.

    however, if you can convince me that obama though retoric, can convince and lead the american public to take the measures required to face the reality we are now facing, i will vote for him. i want someone who actually sees the problem and is willing to square with us. hope is a good thing, but dammit hope is emotional shit, and reality is something else.

    watching Ted et. al. and the others today , primarily in the MSM, makes me nervous. fuck the rhetoric. I want some real action and some honest solutions. Peak oil has happened and life styles are going to change. I’ve got children and grand children. who is going to speak truth to them? hope for growth and continued consumerism is not reality. Tell me how rhetoric is going to lead us through the next decade. Bush and cheney know the truth,believe it or not.. well cheney does at least. . they have made their move. i don’t agree with them, and despise their approach. i’m frugal and was raised that way. we need someone in office that will square with the american public. so far i am disappointed with the lot of them.

  4. Diane Says:

    It makes me so sad to see that so many people in America have cast aside aside hope and dreams.

    America was built on hope and dreams. Immigrants came to America hoping for a better life. Their reality was pretty crappy, so they put it behind them, not really knowing that America would be better, but hoping and making it so.

    I think that if you focus on reality for too long, it makes you bitter and empty. That’s how I see Mrs Clinton - someone who has lost any ability to see a better future, someone who is all consumed in the hardships she’s faced in the past, someone who is going to make sure that her opponent is faced with those same hardships. She’s the person who says, “well, if I went through all this, you darned well will, too”. The last thing in the world that I want is a ‘reality check’ from Mrs Clinton.

    Now, I agree with Rube in that we need someone in office who will square with the American public. I want someone who will tell me the unvarnished truth about where they and where America stands (and Mrs Clinton isn’t that person!).

    But I also want someone who can see a better tomorrow, and who can share that vision with me and excite me by it. If you don’t have that trust and that hope, how do you get anyone to move forward??

  5. rube cretin Says:

    Diane… please forgive my rant above, which upon review and reflection, is admittedly a bit of a downer. i suppose i am a bit of an alarmist. however, in my retirement years, almost 15 years, i have spent considerable time following certain subjects and am very concerned about the situation in our country. the primary problem lies with energy and Americas access to it. I will not bore you with the my understanding of the details because it does require some effort to understand the subject. if you are interested in the subject i can recommend numerous sites for an overview of the subject. one of the main concerns i have about the subject is the message being sent to the american public by our politicians and private corporate organizations.

    Few recognize the critical influence of persons like Freud’s nephew Edward Bernaise and the fantasy they have created in America. Bernaise was famous in the field of public relations and his use of Freud’s findings manipulated the American public into being the greatest frivolous consumers in the history of the world. These same techniques are being used today to influence the American public. They are being used in this election. The techniques are almost flawless in manipulating the public to as you say, “see a better tomorrow, and who can share that vision with me and excite me.” Trust me these folks are very good at their job. i wish a phychologist who frequently posts on this site would provide an overview of the power of this manipulation technique. (DR are you following this)

    The point i am trying to make is that the energy thing is very serious IMHO and the transition to a lower energy future is going to take time, care and major adjustments, if it is going to be done without major disruptions. We must not waste valuable time and resources by continually providing hope that the future will be like the past. It ain’t going to happen. I will tell you i believe a better and more authentic life awaits us if we don’t run off the cliff believing in an unrealistic future.

  6. Ken Grandlund Says:


    i hear what you are saying and do not disagree with your premise that the way we live will have to change, and furthermore, will change whether we embrace it or not. but i think you may be missing the point i am trying to make regarding the message of hope and change from Obama.

    i don’t think that he is trying to say that with hope we can change the politics and culture of this country into what they used to be-whatever era you choose to refer to. indeed, what i think he means is just that we can’t continue to do things as they have been done, and that change will bring about new dynamics in both politics and daily life-and hope that we can change the current path of humanity.

    big ideas to be sure, but not something to discard as so much psychobabble either.

    change in energy and consumption will be a must, and so far no one is telling us about that reality. Obama at least hints at it though when he talks about change and hope.

    i hope we can learn to reel in our wanton consumption, but we need someone at the helm to steer us that way- current pols don’t and won’t.

    i hope we can learn to work for each other and all of our best interests, not become more and more divisive, both culturally and politically- but we need a leader who is willing to change the way business is done in DC.

    these are the kinds of changes and hopes that i find in the messages of Obama- not some kind of feel good mantras that ultimately disappear like so much sand in a wind tunnel.

    i find myself liking Obama more and more because of the way he includes the average person in his vision- how he seems to understand that we can’t continue as we are-and how he offers us a glimpse of hope that with a changed dynamic in politics, we can actually solve some of these problems and make our world a better, if different, kind of place.

    i hope this helps understand what it is i am trying to convey here.

  7. rube cretin Says:

    ken…thanks for your patients with me. i have been watching obama very carefully for the last few days and he is indeed a natural. his greatest strength is his ability to connect with the real folk and i suppose that’s where the real change will have to take place. the powerful, such as those calling the shots now, are never going to listen to anyone.

    inspiring a shared vision is an important characteristic of a great leader. when thinking about what we are facing, its already happening you know, by the time our next president takes office someone with obamas skills just might be what we need to lead us to a more realistic future. perhaps its destiny and not fate that will make him the next president.

  8. Diana Rowe Pauls Says:

    I agree that everything that comes out of their mouths is pre-written by professionals and market-tested for impact and every little “if” “and” “but” is examined for semantics, emotional impact and so on and so on…

    However, the “we” vs “I” point is a very good one, showing us the differences in Obama and Clinton and how they see us in their big plan…

    And it leads me to wonder also… if the “we” is so designed to impact the listener, for pysch reasonings, etc., then why isn’t Clinton doing it also? Can she not hire the right experts? Are they suggesting it and she doesn’t listen? She disagrees with the concept?

    For whatever reason Obama is “we” and Clinton is “I”… it does cause me to pause and wonder…

  9. Bring It On! Election 2008 » And Then There Were Four- Edwards, Giuliani To End Presidential Bids Says:

    […] Diana Rowe Pauls: I agree that everything that comes out of their mouths is pre-written by professionals and… […]

  10. rube cretin Says:

    sounds like most of ya’ll don’t know who Edward Bernaise was and the marketing technique he developed. if you got emotions and desires the guy owns you. he had me too until i thought about it a little bit and decided to go for the drugs, alcohol, and other vices which are more fundamental and in the final analysis less harmless to the future to the world.. suggest you learn about him and make the appropriate adjustment to your life.

  11. rube cretin Says:

    last message should have included the word harmful, not harmless. (wonder if i took my nervous pill today?) damn dementia.

  12. Bring It On! National News » Who Best To Beat McCain? Says:

    […] consider looking outside the box (so to speak) for new, innovative ways of solving problems. And as I’ve said before, Hillary’s still stuck in the “I” of politics, as opposed to the “We” […]

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