These days, and for the better part of the past decade, political communication and pressure campaigns have become increasingly partisan. It’s rare to see an approach that’s both lighthearted and direct, but also – dare I say – fun?
I give you exhibit A.
Sure, there’s a sarcastic undertone to this clip, but there’s also plenty of room for a Paul Ryan supporter to watch this video and find both a way and a reason to support it.
There are other recent non-partisan attempts to raise the profile of issues (see gun control), but most have been far from lighthearted. In fact, I would argue that congressional pressure campaigns are now nearly exclusively polarizing in their approach. That, or they’re depressing, drawing on our shared frustration and disgust at the level of inaction.
This video takes a different approach. It doesn’t take a shot at Paul Ryan or Congress, two extremely easy targets, and opts instead for playfulness – despite talking about an extremely serious issue.
Now, the question immediately becomes whether this approach will be successful – or more successful – than a direct campaign challenging the interagency of Congress in dealing with the issue of mass incarceration.
Given the growing consensus that we have at least 5 more years of a Republican controlled House (and possibly Senate), I would argue that we need to find more campaign avenues where a hand is extended across the aisle instead of a fist.
There’s certainly a need for progressive campaigning that doesn’t compromise, but there’s also a need for hardline moderate campaigning that finds ways to bring people together – because a strategy based on executive action can only go so far. At some point we need to, as activists and campaigners, face the fact that the half of the country who will undoubtably vote for the Republican presidential nominee needs to be engaged. It’s going to take some creativity – and there are unlikely to be any short term victories – but the longterm dividends will be hugely important.
We need to take this country back from the political brink and find ways to heal the massive partisan fault line currently threatening our ability to get much of anything done at the congressional level.
Thanks Alicia Keys, for taking a more creative, lighthearted, but no less serious approach to engaging Congress.