Sunday, January 06, 2008

The authenticity of hope

So, IMHO the Obama and Huckabee surges come down to this: authenticity. It is a sweeping cultural trend, particularly in the U.S., particularly among young adults, and as such has a huge impact on the electoral campaign. I say "campaign" because I don't hazard a guess as to how strong an impact it will have ultimately, once it passes through the meat grinder of electoral politics and machinery.

With both of these candidates, there is a sense of "what you see is what you get." No artifice, no spin, no obfuscations. Authenticity is very powerful if you have it, because it is a shield against slings and arrows in the form of barbs and attempts to get you to make a gaffe. If you are yourself, there is no such thing as inconsistency.

A client has done a lot of thinking about this and has created a tidy framework within which authenticity operates. One factor is time and place -- yeah, that would be NOW, a demographic moment. Another is story -- yeah, Obama and Huckabee both have strong personal stories rooted in place. Something to say, a strong point of view are others. In other words, what's the moral to your story? Transparency is also an important factor.

People are summations of their stories, and if they have a good one and can communicate it, they tap into the human need to hear them. It goes back to that primitive urge to sit around the campfire which evolution has not deprived us of just yet.

I like this Fast Company article
and this line: the opposite of authenticity isn't "fake"; it is cynicism.


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