Say out loud, “Yes we can!” Then say out loud, “Ready on day
one!” What do you notice?
When you say, “Yes we can!” your mouth smiles at the end of
that statement and the smile lasts beyond the words, partially because when
you’re smiling your lips want to hold that happy position and because you mind
wants to hold onto the hopeful experience that such a statement triggers. When you say, “Ready on day one!” your lips
slightly purse, you nod in agreement and then quickly stop doing it after you
say the words, partially because it is a strain on your lip muscles and because
the dictatorial tone is something you want to get away from.
The difference in semantics is highly characteristic in the
differences between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in terms of how they make
us feel, how it makes us feel about them and apparently how people vote. The
reason it plays well to the North and South and East and West is that the ache
for hope and to smile about someone and something (Obama) is so deep that it
overtakes (both emotionally and in delegates) the fleeting power of
authoritative directness in authoritarian’s clothing (Clinton).
There is a historic irony about this race that has not been
lost on most political observers. Dwight
D. Eisenhower put a smile on our face compared to Adlai Stevenson as did JFK
compared to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan compared to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton
compared to George H. Bush, George W. Bush compared to Al Gore, George W. Bush
compared to John Kerry.
So if history is any teacher of who and what wins
presidential contests, it seems clear that it’s not a case that the “ayes have
it”, but that the “smiles have it.”